Nurturing trees in tough conditions on Mexico's Lake Texcoco
Lake Texcoco, México State, Mexico
About the project:
The extremely dry and salty soil in the basin of Mexico's drained Lake Texcoco is a menace to the surrounding communities and nearby Mexico City. Decades of mismanagement after the lake entirely disappeared have severely degraded the land, leaving it largely an unproductive dust bowl.
During the rainy season, flash floods rush across the basin, putting lives in danger. And in the dry season, dirt and dust blows across the basin. On top of that, temperatures widely fluctuate because of the lack of tree cover.
Trees are the perfect solution to these problems: They hold soil in place, keep water in the soil, provide a home to unique plants and animals, and regulate the climate. But because of the challenging environment, all reforestation efforts at the site have failed. Over the past fifty years, millions of trees have been planted in Lake Texcoco, but only 2% have survived.
Initiative 20x20 partner Land Life Company (LLC) was offered the chance to collaborate with Mexico's National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) to try out an innovative solution to plant and help trees survive for decades. Across 160 hectares, the company's cocoons, which protect saplings by surrounding them with a biodegradable shell, went into the ground in September 2015. The cocoons provide just enough enough water and nutrients to keep the tree alive, but not so much that that tree becomes dependent on the inputs.
Only 16 months after planting, the trees were growing well, and 85-90% survived, without any irrigation. The trees had all reached two meters high with deep root systems, despite the poor soil, thanks to the cocoons.
Three years into the project, 80% of the Cupressus, Casuarina and Tamarix trees that LLC has planted have survived, and as of April 2019, some are already over eight meters tall. The young forest is beginning to develop a vibrant ecosystem of animals and plants, creating clean air and a healthy, green future for generations to come.