Photo: UNDP.

The first birds awaken the winter morning fog that covers the coast of Punta del Diablo, a small coastal town in eastern Uruguay, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Black Lagoon. The ocean breeze shapes the dunes where the sand friends live; trees, shrubs, and herbs of the threatened "psamófilo forest" (from the Greek psammos, sand, and filo, friend).

This forest resists the human activities that pressure its development years after year, such as unplanned urban growth and unsustainable tourism. Despite the winter's cold, a community committed to the environment meets in its public park to initiate the restoration. They start clearing the land of remains of black acacias and maritime pines, invasive exotic species that displace native species and reborn after each fire. Under this mantle of invasive branches, some small native plants appear, resisting the pressure limiting their development. A sign that it is possible to recover our natural diversity if we generate better conditions.

How could we manage to mobilize more people, groups, and organizations for the restoration of ecosystems? What if we could plant 1000 trees to restore the native forest in Punta del Diablo, fostering the alternative finance for development? Is it possible through crowdfunding and citizen participation to contribute to the green recovery? That's how we began this process at the UNDP's Accelerator Lab, together with Plantatón Uruguay. We were also inspired by experiences from other countries such as Uzbekistan (Green Aral Sea) and Costa Rica (Huella de Futuro). Therefore, we embarked on this pathway hitherto unexplored in Uruguay, to promote individual commitment and collective financing through digital means (crowdfunding) to promote a sustainable present and future.

Rebuild the future of our ecosystem

Native forests are more than a collection of trees. For example, they are home to 9 out of 10 indigenous reptiles, birds, and mammals, including threatened species. They are essential to protect biodiversity, the environment, and the quality of our water. In the midst of a planetary crisis, we must rebuild the future of our ecosystem. Rethink our connection with nature and with ourselves.

The Coronavirus reminded us of the importance of living in harmony with nature since there are no healthy populations without healthy ecosystems. Through the co-creation and co-production of the “1000 native trees for the Uruguay of the future” campaign, we seek to plant 1,000 trees, guardians of Uruguay's future. By planting a native tree, the people and organizations that join this cause will contribute to repopulating the coastal native forest of Punta del Diablo with native species and the control of invasive alien species in community management and care system.

Each tree represents a person committed to our ecosystem and a footprint of hope. It also depict the effort and dedication of small nurseries of native species, a local community seeking to live in harmony with the environment, and volunteers committed to native forests. This scenario fosters new partnerships for development towards the green recovery, working together for a sustainable future: local, departmental and national government, organized civil society, local groups, private sector, and the UNDP.

We invite you to access our website, plantatonuruguay.org and learn more about this experience and find out how to contribute with a tree to rebuild the Uruguay of the future.

 

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