About the Author: Joshua Buxton serves as Vice Consul at the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey, Mexico.
The morning of August 30, 2009, found a group of over 200 excited volunteers gathered in a valley among the mountains of Santiago, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Equipped with picks, shovels and 3,000 pine saplings, these volunteers came together to reforest an area that had been badly burned by a raging fire in March of the previous year.
The event was the fulfillment of the promise of Mexico’s first ever green race, the Inaugural EUA-Mexico 10K, which took place on July 5, 2009, in Parque Fundidora in Monterrey. The race was organized by the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey in cooperation with Pronatura Noreste A.C., a Mexican nongovernmental, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to nature conservation. The race event generated tremendous enthusiasm in the community, and the participant registration space completely sold out with 1,500 runners.
One of the event’s numerous gold sponsors, the U.S. bank GMAC, generously pledged to donate two trees on behalf of every runner. The Comisión Nacional Forestal, Mexico’s government forest organization, was so impressed by the project that they donated an additional 3,000 trees, bringing the total to 6,000. The additional 3,000 trees are to be planted in the reforestation site’s more difficult-to-access areas during the first week of September 2009. The reforestation site was located by Pronatura, working with the Comisión Nacional Forestal and the Cumbres National Park. They found a local landowner desiring to reforest his damaged land. Pronatura worked with the landowner and Cumbres National Park to obtain the required guarantees to ensure the trees would be protected for years and years to come.
The day before the reforestation event, Pronatura’s forestry experts arranged for an in-depth training workshop for the 20 team leads responsible for providing the requisite guidance for the more than 200 volunteers. The 20 teams, all named after animals (Crocodiles, Sharks, Rabbits), assembled on the morning of the event to listen to welcoming remarks from the U.S. Consul General, the head of Sustainable Development Projects for GMAC and the executive director for Pronatura Noreste. Then the volunteers enthusiastically got to work digging and planting. Numerous volunteers came along with their children, making the day a festive family event.
This has been the driest summer the area has experienced since 1982, and event organizers glanced optimistically at the overcast skies in the hopes that the young trees would soon receive nourishing rain. One hour into the reforestation effort, the skies opened, unleashing their first heavy rains of the season, much to the delight of the volunteers and organizers. No one will know for quite some time what the actual tree survival rate will be. But, at the time of this posting, the trees are adjusting to their new home, enjoying the rain that has been falling since their installation in the Santiago mountains.
The race and reforestation events have generated a great deal of enthusiasm in the community. Plans to repeat the race again next year are already in the works, and event organizers are looking forward to carrying the momentum of the reforestation project into future green events. The Consulate remains extremely grateful to Pronatura, along with all of the sponsors and volunteers that made both the July 5th race and the August 30th reforestation a reality.
Related Entry: U.S.-Mexico 10K Race Goes Green.