Ecuador: Eucalyptus production zapping water supply from indigenous farmers

Posted on August 31, 2017 • Filed under: Ecuador, Ecuador Trivia

If you have spent any time in the Sierra, there is one smell that is unmistakable, that is of the Eucalyptus tree. A very strong poignant smell, the tree graces large tracks of the Sierra. They are not native to Ecuador and were originally imported back in the 1800′s at the bequest of former President García Moreno. Much of the original ground cover had been harvested by locals for fuel and erosion was a serious problem. Solution, groves and groves of Eucalyptus. However, as with many things a solution often creates another problem which you will see in the story below. The tree loves water and much of the current Eucalyptus farming is causing water table problems and causing a negative impact on Indegenous farmers areas.

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mongabay.co/Johnny Magdaleno – In Ecuador’s central Cotopaxi province, massive industrial eucalyptus production is presenting problems for Cotopaxi’s rural economy, which traditionally thrived on flower and broccoli production.
Throughout the Nagsiche River water basin, exotic species like eucalyptus and pine have wreaked havoc on the soil by sucking out tremendous amounts of water.
Frustrated with a lack of assistance from the local government to curb the eucalyptus, 400 community members pooled together funds to purchase these 99 acres and turn them into an unofficial nature reserve.
Over the past 15 years, some stretches of the Nagsiche River have seen their water flow decrease by 40 percent.

SALCEDO, Ecuador – The southeastern wedge of Ecuador’s Cotopaxi province is filled with rich agricultural land. It sprawls in small divided plots of greens and ambers across the region’s hills, ravines, and mountainsides.

But the indigenous farmers that call this area home are facing perennial water shortages that are crippling crop diversity. The shortages spurred an investigation due to start this year by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries and the Secretariat of Water into possible causes.

A clear culprit is nearby tree plantations that cover hundreds of acres throughout the Nagsiche River water basin. Because they’re made up of exotic species like eucalyptus and pine, they wreak havoc on the soil, with each tree sucking about 5-10 gallons (20 to 40 liters) of water out of the ground every day.

This can thwart crop rotations for local farmers like Maria Beatriz Padilla. Read Article

eucalyptus trees

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