Yucatán Restoration

Protecting and regrowing the forests of the Yucatán Peninsula
Our 118-people strong restoration team on the Yucatán Peninsula works intensively during the rainy season from June to December. Our goal for 2022 is to plant 3 million trees. Thanks to the incredibly dedicated and efficient work of everyone involved, we are able to plant one tree for every euro donated.
Donate Trees
until the end of 2022 Planting Seasons
1,237,025
Trees
planted in the 2022 Planting Season
9,108,401
Trees
planted since 2015
A project by Plant-for-the-Planet Mexico, supported by Plant-for-the-Planet Worldwide.

Yucatán Restoration

Our 118-people strong restoration team on the Yucatan Peninsula is working hard to plant 3 million trees in the rainy season from June to December 2022. Thanks to the incredibly dedicated and efficient work of our team, we are able to plant one tree for every euro donated.
Donate Trees
until the end of 2022 Planting Seasons
1,237,025
Trees
planted in the 2022 Planting Season
9,108,401
Trees
planted since 2015
A project by Plant-for-the-Planet Mexico, supported by Plant-for-the-Planet Worldwide

Replanting Pastures and Restoring Forests

We are working to restore the forest landscapes in and around the San Felipe Bacalar Natural Protected Area, as well as the Balam-Kú and Calakmul Biosphere Reserves. Our work takes place within 20,000 hectares, an area larger than the country of Liechtenstein.

Our sites have suffered different levels of degradation: Some areas are recently abandoned cattle pastures with only a few scattered trees left (like parts of Las Americas 5 & 7).

Other areas were never fully deforested, but either economically valuable trees have been logged or significant proportions of the forest were destroyed by fires (like San Felipe Bacalar A and B), leaving behind relatively species-poor vegetation. In other areas, the forest is still full of many species and we are either conserving it or letting it grow back on its own (like Las Americas 3 & 4).

According to Global Forest Watch estimations, deforestation in the three states of the Yucatán peninsula (Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatán) accounted for 42.3% of all forests lost between 2001 and 2020 across Mexico.

Explore the sites
22,500 Hectares on Yucatán and hundreds of small farmers in Mexico

Where the trees are planted – updated daily

Trees Planted in 2022 Planting Season (June–December)

We plan to plant over 3 million trees in the 2022 planting season. When we plant or pause is dictated by the rain. Our teams usually work 10.5 days straight before an extended weekend. Planting began on the 3rd of June and is expected to continue until mid December.

Trees Planted in 2021 Planting Season (July–December)

In 2021, we planted a total of 1,665,383 trees.
Data from past years
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Report on Restoration 2021

INIFAP is the national institute for forestry, agriculture and livestock research in Mexico. Together with INIFAP, we are implementing the renaturation in the Bacalar project areas.
More about INIFAP

Annual Technical and Financial Report 2021

English (Translation)
Download

Annual Technical and Financial Report 2021

Spanish (Original)
Download

Activities carried out, recommendations and
Experiences from the year 2021

English (Translation)
Download

Activities carried out, recommendations and
Experiences from the year 2021

Spanish (Original)
Download
Continuous Research for Climate Justice
Map of the n-fixer optimisation field experiment in Las Americas 5 with 16,000 seedlings in a randomised block design.

Restoration Ecology Research Station

Our restoration work allows our in-house academic research team and visiting scholars to conduct large-scale field trials to test restoration methods.
Learn More

TreeMapper

A powerful and easy-to-use tool for standardized on-site data collection on forest restoration
Explore our platform
With the Plant-for-the-Planet.org platform, people worldwide can plant trees from the comfort of their sofa. 2021 brings the next revolution that reforestation initiatives around the world have been desperately waiting for: the TreeMapper app - a powerful monitoring and reporting app. It provides donors and partners with maximum transparency on ecosystem restoration. And it provides the planting organizations themselves with the highest level of quality control. To put it bluntly: With the Plant-for-the-Planet.org platform, people all over the world can plant trees from their sofa and, with the TreeMapperApp, watch these trees grow from the same sofa, even though they were planted thousands of kilometers away.

Planting 36 Native Species

We want to restore these forests to capture carbon and to protect the local biodiversity of plant, animal and other species. To protect the biodiversity, we are continually stepping up the number of species we plant. After working with 21 species in 2021, we are working with 36 species in 2022.

This includes many early successional species for our restoration in formerly pasture sites and dense wood species in our enrichment planting work. 

LAS AMERICAS (CONSTITUCIÓN)

  • Chacté viga (Caesalpinia mollis)
  • Pich (Enterolobium cyclocarpum)
  • Caoba (Swietenia macrophylla)
  • Maculis (Tabebuia rosea)
  • Cedro (Cedrela odorata)
  • Kanasin (Lonchocarpus rugosus)
  • Mahahua (Heliocarpus mexicanus)
  • Ya'ax kin ché (Caesalpinia yucatanensis)
  • Káan jabin (Senna racemosa)
  • K'aan kaat (Luehea speciosa)
  • Tatúan (Colubrina arborescens)
  • Laurel (Bourreria mollis)
  • Granadillo (Platymiscium yucatanum)
  • Waaxim (Leucaena leucocephala)
  • Ramón (Brosimum alicastrum)
  • Tzalam (Lysiloma latisiliquum)
  • Chakaj (Bursera simaruba)
  • Jicara (Cresentia cujete)
  • Tinto (Haematoxylum campechianum)
  • Catzín negro (Acacia gaumeri)
  • Fierrillo (Caesalpinia vesicaria)
  • Chukum (Havardia albicans)
  • Katzin blanco (Mimosa bahamensis)
  • Madre cacao (Gliricidia sepium)
  • Pixoy (Guazuma ulmifolia)
  • Pucté (Bucida buceras)
  • Ceiba (Ceiba pentandra)

BACALAR

  • Caoba (Swietenia macrophylla)
  • Ramón (Brosimum alicastrum)
  • Maculis (Tabebuia rosea)
  • Tzalam (Lysiloma latisiliquum)
  • Pich (Enterolobium ciclocarpum)
  • Katalox (Swartzia cubensis)
  • Tinto (Haematoxylum campechianum)
  • Madre cacao (Gliricidia sepium)
  • Ceiba (Ceiba pentandra)
  • Kanasin (Lonchocarpus rugosus)
  • Machiche (Lonchocarpus castilloi)
  • Pasaak (Simaruba glauca)
  • Pucté (Bucida buceras)
  • Silil (Dyospirus tetrasperma)
  • Kitanché (Caesalpinia gaumeri)
  • Algodoncillo (Luehea speciosa)
  • Pixoy (Guazuma ulmifolia)
To grow all these species, we are working with two close local partner tree nurseries and have built our own experimental nursery at our Empowerment & Restoration Research Park in Constitución, Campeche.

Restoration in Yucatán: 7 Steps from Devastation to Biodiversity

Semi-evergreen Tropical Forest

We aim to restore a seasonal semi-evergreen tropical forest. Unlike the wetter forests we imagine when we think of the tropics, these forests have 4–6 month long dry seasons where only little rain falls. Where we work, 25–50% of the trees drop their leaves during that time because they are water stressed.

In the state of Campeche, where our work takes place, 8.1% of the original forest has been lost since 2002. Restoring this ecosystem is not just important for plants, but also the animals. In Campeche, jaguars and tapirs are in danger of extinction because of deforestation, habitat fragmentation and incidental deaths by human encounters.

In our sites, we often wake up to the sound of howler monkeys near the camp and see box turtles while planting. So far, only Nicolas, Juan and Jose have seen Jaguars.

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In a semi-evergreen forest, some trees lose their leaves in the dry season (Picture of forest near our office in the Yucatán)

Forest Conservation

The Balam-Kú and Balam-Kin reserves, together larger than Luxembourg, are two of the most important tropical dry forest reserves (Zones Subject to Ecological Conservation). The reserves' stretch 145km from their northern most to southern most point. They act as a refuge for local biodiversity, especially for animals in the dry season. It is home to jaguars and ocelots. 

In close collaboration with the government of Campeche, we support the reserve authority in protecting this ecosystem, for instance by funding and equipping a small team of rangers.

Donate for Conservation

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Balam-Kú & Balam-Kin Reserves in the State of Campeche
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Our 118 Team Members

Seasonally working staff is to be added to our permanently employed colleagues.
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85 Reforesters

Plant trees in the wet season and help trees grow by cleaning fast-growing grasses with machetes in the dry season (about 1/3 work seasonally)

4 Field Crew Leaders

Manage teams of 20 reforesters in the field.
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13 Nursery technicians

Collect seeds, grow seedlings, and prepare them for planting (not directly employed by Plant-for-the-Planet).

6 Ecologists and forest engineers

Select restoration sites, plan outplanting, maintenance and organise experiments.
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4 Data collectors

Measure trees, look for signs of disease and collect leaf, root and soil samples

3 Cooks

Work in our two kitchens and provide three meals a day to all team members
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2 Construction workers

Build and maintain team housing

1 Mechanic

Maintains our seedling-trucks, buses, tractors and backhoes
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Our Las Americas Restoration Team near our office in Constitucion, Campeche in 2021

Our 124 Team Members

Seasonally working staff is to be added to our permanently employed colleagues
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85 Reforesters

Plant trees in the wet season and help trees grow by cleaning fast-growing grasses with machetes in the fry season (about 1/3 work seasonally)
Image

4 Field Crew Leaders

Manage teams of 20 reforesters in the field.
Image

13 Nursery technicians

Collect seeds, grow seedlings, and prepare them for planting (not directly employed by Plant-for-the-Planet).
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6 Ecologists and forest engineers

Select reforestation sites, plan outplanting, maintenance and organise experiments.
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4 Data collectors

Measure trees, look for signs of disease and collect leaf, root and soil samples
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3 Cooks

Work in our two kitchens and provide three meals a day to all team members
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2 Construction workers

Build and maintain team housing
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1 Mechanic

Maintains our seedling-trucks, buses, tractors and backhoes
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Project Leader

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    Raul Negrete
    President of Plant-for-the-Planet A.C. (Mexico)
  • Raul, a civil engineer, works as an independent property appraiser. He grew up in Chetumal – about two hours away from our restoration sites – and has supported Plant-for-the-Planet since cofounding Plant-for-the-Planet Mexico in 2013. Since then, he has built and led our Mexico team – from the first academies we organised here in 2013, via the first tree planted in the Yucatán Restoration program in 2015 to the begin of our forest conservation work in 2022.

    Advisory Board

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    Minister Dr. Sandra Laffon Leal
    Minister of the Environment
    Campeche
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    Dr. Ruben Dario Gongora
    Director
    INIFAP Quintana Roo
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    Dr. Carlos Tucuch
    Director
    CONAFOR Campeche
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    Arturo Balam Koyoc
    Director
    Balam-Kú and Balam-Kin Ecosystem Reserves
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    Jocelyn Duran
    Director of Biodiversity Conservation and Management
    Environment Ministry of Campeche
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    Miguel Arcos
    Major of Constitución
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    Andres Cruz Zamudio
    Rector
    Universidad Tecnológica de Calakmul

    Restoration Supervision Expert Board

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    Dr. Pilar Angelica Gómez-Ruiz
    Professor, Universidad Autónoma del Carmen
    Mexico
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    Dr. Rakan A. Zahawi
    Professor, University of Hawaii
    Director, Charles Darwin Foundation in the Galapagos
    USA/Ecuador
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    Dr. Joachim Hamberger
    Professor, Technical University Munich
    Germany
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    Joachim Elsässer
    BDI Coordinator for Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile
    Germany/Mexico
    Continuous Research for Climate Justice
    Seedlings in the Experimental Nursery in Constitución, Campeche

    The Three Nurseries

    We work closely with two external partner nurseries (in Chuina, Campeche and José María Morelos, Q. Roo) and built our own Experimental Nursery at our Restoration Research Park in Constitución, Campeche in 2022 with a capacity of 200,000 seedlings. We built the Experimental Nursery to research the germination and growth procedures of rare species.
    Yucatan Restoration and Conversation Sites

    Balam-Kú/Calakmul Biosphere Reserve Region

    • Las Américas 7 (7a, 7b, 7.1, 7.2)
      The western half (7b) of the site is mostly intact forest, with smaller patches of degradation. The eastern half is entirely deforested. During 2021 we mainly restored the forest in Las Américas 7a and partly 7.1. In 2022 we will focus on the deforested and degraded sites in 7a, 7.1 and 7.2.

    • Las Américas 5
      Our research site (90 ha) is located within the Balam-Kú Ecosystem Reserve. It is just one km from our office and is used for our large-scale field trials. In collaboration with Imperial College London and ETH Zurich we are doing research to optimize forest restoration techniques.  

    • Las Américas 3 & 4
      Our two largest project sites are within the Calakmul and Balam-Kú reserves. They are the least degraded of all our project sites. All areas not severely degraded are conserved and allowed to naturally regenerate. Together with the government of Campeche we support the protection of these ecosystems. If sufficient degradation is discovered to merit an intensive restoration intervention, we will apply for a permit and potentially begin work in 2023.

    • Las Américas 1,2 & 6
      These sites experienced varying states of degradation. In the years 2015–2020, we reforested and implemented enrichment planting.

    • Las Américas 10
      This site, close to Las Américas 2, includes 48 deforested hectares. It is a flood prone site. . This low thorny forest will be restored and protected starting in 2022 and 2023.

    • Las Américas 11
      Las Américas 11 has approximately 50 ha of deforested, former cattle pasture. The many limestone rocks and the thin soil in the first horizon makes the restoration of the lowland flooded forest or lowland thorny forest more difficult. Planting began here in 2022.
    Explore the sites
    Yucatan Restoration and Conversation Sites

    San Felipe Bacalar Natural Protected Area

    • San Felipe Bacalar A
      339 hectares of forest burned in 2019. However, many trees survived the blaze. We are conducting enrichment planting in 2021 to restore the lost species.
    • San Felipe Bacalar B
      Another devastating fire in 2020 affected this section (220 ha) of the Natural Protected Area. We will be conducting enrichment planting here in 2022.
    • San Felipe Bacalar C, D & E
      We will be converting what used to be an 87 ha coconut plantation back into a natural forest.
    Explore the sites
    INIFAP’s Restoration Report 2021

    The Las Americas sites are owned by Plant-for-the-Planet. The San Felipe Bacalar sites are owned by our partners, INIFAP. INIFAP is a federal agriculture and forestry research institution. We partnered to restore the San Felipe Bacalar Natural Protected Area. As part of this partnership, Plant-for-the-Planet is conducting the restoration and maintenance work of the trees for the first three years after planting, in close collaboration with INIFAP. INIFAP is then responsible for the long-term protection of the forests.

    We aim to plant 100 million trees in Mexico by 2030. That’s a very ambitious target. Not all of these trees are to be planted on the Yucatan Peninsula, but also in other efforts around the country. Of course, the sites of Plant-for-the-Planet and its partners are not big enough for all these trees. We are continuously looking for additional sites to continue our work.

    In addition to our work on the Yucatán Peninsula, we also work with partners to restore the forest in central Mexico (see below). Depending on where they are needed most, tree-donations to Plant-for-the-Planet are allocated to one of these two projects.

    We are incredibly grateful for every donor and supporter allowing us to restore these ecosystems. Due to the delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and in order to focus on maximising the diversity of species planted and to do our best to restore these ecosystems as well as possible, we are not scaling up our operations as quickly as initially planned. Thus, we expect that trees donated today might not be planted until late 2022 or even the 2023 planting season.

    Download Transparency Report
    Yucatan Restoration and Conversation Sites
    Las Americas 7.1 just after planting in 2021

    Survival Rates

    The survival rates of our planted seedlings vary substantially. Key factors affecting survival rates include the species planted as well as the site’s soil types and level of ecosystem degradation. We could alter species selection to increase survival rate but we choose to prioritise biodiversity over survival rates. When we expect lower survival rates due to poor soil quality or intense degradation, we increase the planting density to ensure that the forest can develop nonetheless.

    Another important factor is the amount of rain in the days preceding and following outplanting. We do have some influence here. We naturally do not plant at all during the dry season and pause planting during the wet season when precipitation drops. 

    The survival rates of 2021 were relatively low, since it was a particularly dry year (CONAGUA, 2022) and we planted a lot of our trees in very challenging conditions with poor soil quality and intense degradation. These latter conditions also apply for many of the sites we work on in 2022. 

    The first year survival rates for the trees planted in 2021 range from 9.13% to 78.56% at the site level. In Las Americas 7a – the site with the most challenging conditions – the average survival rate was 11.3% (measured range: 0.1% – 41.5%). In San Felipe de Bacalar the average survival rate was 36.4% (measured range: 9.2% – 78.56 %). 

    We continuously work on improving our restoration process to increase our survival rates. Some of our research efforts look at how different restoration methods may increase survival rates and growth rates. 

    But fundamentally, we plant trees not to grow trees, but to grow diverse, native forests. So the key long term metrics are not initial survival rates but plant, animal, bacterial and fungal diversity in our forests.

    Note: Las Americas 7a data is based on a complete census of all trees planted and the San Felipe de Bacalar data on a random 20% subsection.

    Daily Reports & Project Records

    To give you a feel for our work we’ve digitised the daily work reports of our planting team and have compiled the delivery notes that accompany the seedlings from the nursery to our planting areas, our staff numbers, some of whom have been with us since the first tree, our buildings and machinery and an overview of further costs.
    Daily Reports & Project Records
    Tour of the Campus

    Project Partners
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    FAQ