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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Reforestation to help Mexico restore watersheds, reduce floods and other benefits

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Coke and Pepsi, gardening together in Mexican mountains to preserve urban water

April 26 2017  PRI

The semiarid Mexican city of Monterrey has two major challenges with water: either there is not enough of it, or there’s far too much. Improving and fixing the area’s infrastructure could cost billions. But a US environmental organization [The Nature Conservancy] has a far cheaper solution, and it’s getting rival corporations — like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo — to come together to pay for it….

….The government has a few choices. It could do nothing, take its chances. It could erect a bunch more barriers — that’s expensive. Or, it could try the cheaper approach that the Nature Conservancy is helping to develop: replant trees.

Dams still play a vital role, but …with more trees, you don’t need so many barriers. Trees retain water in the soil, and in their roots and branches. And unlike a dam, a healthy forest serves other functions, too. “It will also be improving air quality, and capturing, sequestering carbon as well,” Herron says. That helps to fight climate change, which is contributing to more intense storms.

Trees also help filter water and replenish the aquafers in a dry area with a growing population… The Nature Conservancy has raised a few million dollars from corporate sponsors in Monterrey. Ultimately, they need close to $50 million to plant perhaps 100 million trees in deforested areas, spanning more than 500 square miles.

corporate seed money is allowing them to fund pilot projects to show the government that this is a wise investment.

The Nature Conservancy is setting up similar “water funds” for troubled watersheds in 25 locations throughout Latin America and the US. It’s ultimately offering local governments this: a bargain. They’re using nature, and not huge infrastructure projects, to replenish groundwater, minimize flood risks, and fight climate change — for a fraction of the cost.

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