In recent years, the rainforest in Argentina’s Misiones province has been exploited and deforested. In September 2021, ACT member Fundación Hora de Obrar, together with 100 volunteers, managed to recover seven hectares of wetland and reforest it with 5.000 native trees. Since the beginning of the project in October 2020, the organisation has planted more than seventy thousand trees.
“These kind of projects are very important because they determine our future,” remarked Ayelén Rieger, one of the volunteers from the Evangelical Church of Río de la Plata who joined the reforestation initiative of the Fundación Hora de Obrar in the Misiones Province on September 18, 2021. The activity was possible thanks to the agreement with the local government and other social organisations, and international as well as local funding.
Consequences of the destruction of a unique ecosystem
The Misiones Rainforest represents one of the most important remnants of the Atlantic Forest and has a unique environmental value for the planet. Since it is a highly biodiverse ecosystem, more and better protection strategies should be provided. In past years, it was affected by agricultural expansion, intensive livestock farming and diversification. Subsistence agriculture, fires, overgrazing, infrastructure development and overexploitation of forest resources led to deforestation in the ecosystem.
As a consequence, the hydrological cycle has changed. One of the most visible effects is the lowest water levels in the Paraná River in almost 80 years. The drinking water supply is affected, and it also influences the nutrient cycle of the soil, decreasing its fertility. With deforestation, the emission of greenhouse gases increases (tropical deforestation contributes about 20% of annual global emissions) and biodiversity is lost.
Preserving the rainwater and maintaining the stream’s flow
“Fundación Hora de Obrar’s program ‘Crece Selva Misionera’ aims to recover 300 hectares of jungle and involve more than 25 municipalities in the province of Misiones. It is a necessary action to filter the rainwater runoff and maintain the stream flow, for the conservation and connectivity of forest areas as well as for carbon fixation,” says the coordinator of Fundación Hora de Obrar’s reforestation program, Romario Dohmann. “Little by little, we are achieving the objectives that we had set for the program.”
Raising awareness for the environment in general
The replanting event coincided with the World Cleanup Day, a date that was established to encourage collecting waste in public spaces all around the world. That is why the reforestation day on 18th September began with garbage cleaning at the Helena River, a tributary of the Paraná that flows through the province of Misiones.
Around one hundred volunteers from churches, environmental organizations and local governments worked together to dig wells, plant and water the five thousand seedlings. Before, Romario Dohmann raised their awareness on the importance of protecting the waterways of the Misiones Forest. He stood next to a tree planted in 2020 which already exceeds two meters in height.
72,000 trees since October 2020
The last massive planting had been carried out in April 2021 in the town of Puerto Rico, in a protected area inhabited by indigenous communities. The forest in that area had been seriously affected by the massive fires of 2020. 2,500 trees were planted.
For more information on the program: https://www.horadeobrar.org.ar/medio-ambiente/
Photos: Fundación Hora de Obrar