Alejandra Rayas Ruíz is forest engineer at our planting area in Mexico. She's from Texcoco, a little town near México City, 33 years old and graduated in environmental studies in Australia.
Hi Alejandra, you are a forest engineer at our reforestation project in Mexico. Tell us about your days, are you working in the office or are you outdoors?
Alejandra: Yes, I am working here for almost five months now. In my first weeks here, I went to the planting areas and walked around for five, six hours per day in order to get to know the project and work on a basic cartography. Now, I spend most of my time in the office near the planting area in the small town Constitución. I work on a certification process for our reforestation project and also give suggestions on how to improve the planting process.
There are many workers who plant trees day by day! How many workers are there and what’s their job?
Alejandra: Around 100 people work with Plant-for-the-Planet México. Some workers take care of the plants that are already planted. They need to cut the weeds so the trees can grow. Before the rainy season begins, they prepare the land. Because during the rainy season, two million trees should be planted so most of the workers will be planting trees. All these workers need to eat enough food every day, so there are 10 cooks who prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for all. Three workers are drivers since water, food for cooking, toilet products and other necessary things are needed in the planting area. Elder de la Cruz is in charge of all these people.
What does the day of such a worker look like?
Alejandra: Persons who plant trees get up at 4:45 a.m., at 5:00 a.m. they are already planting trees, at 7:00 they get back to the camp area to have a breakfast, then they continue working until 3:00 p.m. When they finish their work, the cooks have already prepared lunch, so the workers can eat. After eating most of them get a shower and start playing cards. Around 6:00 p.m. they have dinner and then they go to sleep. We have huts at the planting area, because many workers would need to travel to the planting area for some hours. So they sleep at the site, and always work for 10 days, and then return to their families for some days.
We also have a tree nursery. What does the worker’s day look like there?
Alejandra: The people working in the tree nursery don’t sleep in the camp, because the nursery is near the town where they live (15 minutes by car). They start working in the nursery at 6:00 a.m, usually preparing the soil for the plants because early in the morning there is no wind, so the substrate isn’t blown away. They have a little breakfast around 9:00 a.m. and then they continue working until 3:00 or 4: 00 p.m. There are many women working in the nursery.
Are you planting trees the whole year?
Alejandra: No, trees depend on water to live, so we only plant trees in rainy season (July to November). But during the whole year, we need to take care of the trees that have already been planted. They need to be cleared from weeds, for example.
What kind of trees are planted on our planting area?
Alejandra: All the trees are native species:
- Tabebuia rosea, Mexicans call it "Maculis".
- Swietenia macrophylla, Mexicans call it "Caoba", around the world is known as "Mahogany".
- Cordia dodecandra, Mexicans call it "Siricote".
- Brosimum alicastrum, Mexicans call it "Ramon”.
- Enterolobium Cyclocarpum, Mexicans call it "Pitch, orejón".
- Cedrela Odorata, Mexicans call it "Cedro Colorado", around the world is known as "Red Cedar".
Have you already met special animals on the planting area?
Alejandra: Yes, wonderful animals! There are toucans, howling monkeys and also alligators.
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