Thursday, January 5, 2012

Starting Fresh

Hello to all of our friends across the globe and welcome to Hacienda Tranquila’s new and improved blog! We’ll be keeping everyone updated on the exciting events happening around the Hacienda and hopefully make some new friends along the way. Every few weeks or so, you can expect an update regarding our various projects and interesting stories from our staff and volunteers. To get things started, we'll take a look at what our project is all about.

Welcome to Hacienda Tranquila!

We’re a small organization located on San Cristobal Island, Galápagos, focused on strengthening both the environment and community. Since our beginnings in 2007, local works and international volunteers have achieved countless conservation projects to improve sustainable development in the island's fragile environment. We accomplish our outreach and environmental activities on the island by restoring endemic forests and protecting farmers from invasive species, and providing the community with improved access to water, therapy, and education. 

Volunteers work on both environmental and social projects.

How it all works is that volunteers come from around the world for one to twelve weeks to live, work, and grow in a 50 hectare area dedicated to preserving the ecological and social systems of the Galápagos. The work can vary: volunteers one day could be battling Mora (invasive blackberry) with a machete, and that same afternoon do English tutoring with children from the local school.

To give you a better idea as to what you can expect when volunteering at the Hacienda, here are the five areas we focus on:

1. Reforestation
Volunteers have planted more than 3,000 trees in five different areas of the island to protect endangered species. Additionally, we developed a nursery with plants to be transplanted and distributed to schools and farmers in the community. 

Volunteers working in the Scalesia area of the Hacienda.

2. Agriculture
Hacienda Tranquila is currently assisting 20 families across the island to recover their abandoned farms. Staff and volunteers help cultivate their farms so they can supply the community with organic products and increase local production. Local production prevents excessive importation of fresh fruit and vegetables and reduce the introduction of invasive species that endanger the endemic ecosystems.

Some days are spent working with farmers throughout the island.

3. Community Water Access
Our staff and volunteers worked for over one year to bury fifteen kilometers of pipe along rough terrains to supply water for the community. Our work provided access to a suitable water source for 200 people.

Volunteers burying the water pipe.

4. Carbon Sequestration
The project has planted 750 trees, specifically two types of species which capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere: Manzanillo and Matarzarno. Of this quantity, 250 are Manzanillo, each tree capturing 470 kilograms per year, and 500 are Martazarno, each tree capturing 148 kilograms per year helping to capture 191 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.

Matazarno, one of the most important carbon sequestration species.

5. Children
We have created a program of hippo-therapy that uses activities on a horse which has a significant positive impact on children in San Cristobal. Over the last four years, 180 disadvantaged and disabled children have been served from numerous organizations, including a local preschool and summer camps, with sometimes as many as 80 children at once. We have also helped furnish the school in the community and materials for English language learning.

The hippo-therapy program is very rewarding for both the children and volunteers.

The staff and volunteers of Hacienda Tranquila represent over eighteen countries worldwide and in the past year alone, have recovered the Manual G. Covos historical site (the first hacienda of El Progreso), spent nine months constructing a home for a local family, cleared close to 6000 square meters in Sendero al Mirador and planted over 250 endemic species, and expanded our organic agriculture initiatives. These are just a few of the amazing accomplishments our staff and volunteers have achieved!

Hopefully that gave you an informative look at Hacienda Tranquila and the transformation we have initiated over the past four years of operation. Check back soon for our next story!

Hacienda Tranquila 

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