Sunday, 10 August 2008

Conservation Areas

At the end of July I was off in the campo again and thought I would take
this opportunity to write about that trip while sat in the hammock in our
garden, listening to the men in the workshop across the road from us welding
something together.

The point of this trip was to go and work with our team in Ckara Ckara, and
collect data on different areas of conservation that FH has been working on
in the past and at present. There are two types of conservation areas.
Praderas (grasslands) and Bosque (woods, though for us in the UK it is more
low growing shrubs than tall trees). So why are we wanting to protect them.
Well life in the areas where we work is very hard. The land is not very
fertile and so it is easy to damage it. Because of this there is not much
food around for the livestock to eat and the praderas get easily overgrazed,
so FH has been working with the communities to fencing off areas to help the
praderas recover and then make a management plan for these areas as to how
many animals can be put on them at a given time of year, thus helping to
sustain the areas.

With the Bosques there are not that many around, with some of the species
being quite rare and the people using the wood for cooking. The aim for
these is to reforest parts as well as prevent and or reduce the cutting of
wood from these areas so to slow down the rate of their removal, and
realising they need wood to cook.

Conserving these two areas also help in reducing erosion and thus protecting
the soil and helping to keep nutrients there as well. FH is also doing other
work to reduce erosion like working with the people to build terraces, to
retain the soil when the rains come and provide better areas to plant crops
in rather than on very steep slopes. They are also working with the
communities to put in channels that collect the rain helping it to soak into
the ground and prevent it from running straight off the hills taking the
soil with it.

On the whole these seem to work well but there is always the constant
challenge helping the comunities see the benefit of these areas and changing
there mind set so they mantain the fences and manage how many livestock they
put in them.

We were in this area for two days and travelled around a lot to get to the
different areas and then walked a lot. Using the GPS to collect data for the
permeter of the area, collecting information of the different types of
vegetation that is present and drawing a map for the different zones of
vegetation so in the office I could make a map of the area to be put with
the report for how to help manage the area.

This is the highest area where we are working 3500m or more above sea level
so the air is thin with not much oxygen around. This made walking up some of
the hills a challenge but one which I enjoyed. For one of them it was only a
200m asent but it was enough to make my heart and lungs work hard and need
plenty of stops. But from the top of the hill the view was worth it as we
walked around the permeter of a pradera.

This is an area called Canchas Blancas where FH is working. I was standing on a hill 4177 metres above sea level.

It was also very cold and windy up there as it is winter here at present and we passed through a number of frozen or thrawing rivers, one of which I fell into and had a cold wet leg for the rest of the morning.

A herd of Llamas we passed on our way into the campo, with bright colourd wool on their ears!! Not sure why, may be to show ownership of the Llamas

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