Fertiliser Fundamentals and More!

Matt, Matt who? Matt Charrette is back!

A few posts ago I gave you all a sneak peak at our adventurous T.R.E.E.S owner and director who has been away for a few months. Now is the time you get to know the truth!!

Matt has been travelling and experiencing the world, networking for T.R.E.E.S and enjoying life as everyone should be doing.

He is currently gaining new bird banding skills at the Long Point Bird Observatory in Ontario. Banding birds and watching out for rare vagrants during migration monitoring at the tip of Long Point in Lake Erie. It’s only been a few days but he’s very excited about all the new techniques he’s learning and having his first experience banding a yellow-billed cuckoo in Ontario!

We are still hoping fingers crossed to go through with our animal study internships in October, including continuing our resident and migratory bird banding on T.R.E.E.S property so all the good knowledge learned by Matt now will be transferred to us when we reunite next month.
So while we’ve been away from T.R.E.E.S it is still full of busy bee workers, with a team of local and international helpers who stayed behind to keep things running smoothly.

So what’s going on at T.R.E.E.S??

We are still working on expanding our organic farming and have begun growing beans and legumes as well as increasing our crop of leafy greens such as Bok choy and spinach, but also cassava and sweet potatoes. Putting new compost and fertiliser practises into action we’ve been combining dried palm fronds with chicken manure from our lovely ladies and natural fungi.

As borders remain closed in Belize and Covid 19 infection cases which were once very low, have now started to rise, people in Belize are still struggling to find ways of income and livelihood to feed and care for their families. Over the last few months we have been working on a solution and are now starting to put our plan into action but we need your help!

In our community and in widespread areas of Belize slash and burn agriculture which involves destroying and burning of huge ancient land areas is the primary method of farming used by subsistence farmers resulting in habitat being lost from agricultural expansion.

Over the years we have invited farmers to our center to partake in various workshops on sustainable agriculture and we have found them to be very receptive and interested in new techniques. However, due to limited funding and personnel we are limited in how many workshops can be offered and what tools can be provided to local farmers.

Due to the effects of Covid 19 pandemic this method of farming has readily increased as the country has remained on lock down, restricting travel and tourism, which was the country’s main revenue and source of employment for its residents.

Our new plan aims to support and teach these families alternative ways of income and farming through more sustainable and environmentally friendly methods, expanding on previous work done with these communities in the past.

Money raised will go towards:

·         Belize Farming Co-operative, organisation facilitated by T.R.E.E.S and partnered with village leaders and commercial farmers to educate and support them in sustainable farming practices.

·         A Community Backyard Gardens Initiative teaching families how to grow and maintain gardens for their own personal use

·         Farm to Table Production Scheme inviting people through workshops to experiment and learn food processing techniques and recipes as a source of income.

·         T.R.E.E.S Permaculture and Agroforestry Plan to work with the Belize Forestry Department to monitor and increase protection of land areas

·       Community Food Donation Scheme, we have successfully provided food donations to 22 families in 2 villages. We hope to continue these donations to families through increasing our own onsite organic farming, providing employment for locals through working on our site and increasing cultivation for donations

We are asking our loyal student visitors, researchers and guests who have loved and enjoyed their stay with us over the many years, please help us to continue in our good work. Help us put this plan into action as fast as possible for the people and wildlife in Belize.

Click here to read more about our aims and help make a difference.

As always my fellow Eco-warriors,

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Stay Tuned!

Oh Canada, Oh Canada!

It’s been several weeks since my last post and with the restrictions starting to come to an end and the world slowly attempting to go back to normal some of us here at T.R.E.E.S decided to make the leap from Belize back to our retrospective homes for few months.
I have flown back to sunny old England- which is actually sunny for once and am currently melting in a heatwave of highs of 38 °C! Wow I know- who knew the land of grey drizzle and fish n’chips could get so hot!
Vanessa has flown to Canada and is a busy bee working on a turtle tracking project and spending time with family. With Belize borders still closed but planning to open soon we took the journey back together through Mexico before parting ways, and guess who felt like travelling with us??

Is that a sassafras!?

Oh yea it is! Little Sassy made the journey with us to Mexico where she boarded (as hand luggage- I know! how dare they call her hand luggage) bound for Canada with Vanessa.

She has been a willing helper while away and is clearly loving the Canadian boat life, though I’m told she still barks at the turtles confused as to why they’re supersized, not like the small compact white lipped mud turtles she’s used to seeing in Belize. But she’s been sensible enough not to take on a any beavers.

Now being a girl from the refined city of London, I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing a beaver in the wild (or ever really!- I think I saw one in a zoo once but shh! that doesn’t count). And I was super jealous that Sassy saw beavers before me!

But its not just all about cute Sassy- who are we kidding? yes it is.

The project Vanessa has been working on aims at protecting one of the most endangered species of turtle found in Canada. There are 3 species of painted turtles found in Southern Canada, with the one found on the pacific coast of British Colombia, the Western Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) being endangered due to human encroachment of its wetland land areas for urban development. Activities such as water pollution, erosion, fragmentation and infilling mean female painted turtles lack adequate nesting sites. As if they don’t have enough to deal with from us, natural nest predation by raccoons, skunks and coyotes has taken a land-slide increase in the last 20 years as populations are artificially inflated by access to easy human food sources like garbage and crops.

This amazing little species is struggling to make a come back but with conservation efforts improving as more people become aware of the desperation to make a change populations are slowly rising, though they’re far from being out of the danger zone yet.

And lastly I feel like its only justified to end this post with another picture of Sassafras, but does anyone recognize that handsome devil in the forefront?!

It’s Matt! Oh you can bet our little puppy was happy to see him, Mathieu Charette, the founder and director of this organisation that is T.R.E.E.S. He’s been away for a while but its great to have his face make an appearance on the blog and you can expect to be seeing more of him soon with his arrival back to Belize this fall for our bird banding sessions.

We are hoping to run a small mammal and bat mist netting workshop along with our twice-annual bird banding workshop in October 2020. If your interested in Bats or Birds visit our main website and send us an email.

And that’s all for ‘Oh Canada’ but keep an eye out for my next post ‘Keep Calm and Stay British’ which will be coming soon, telling you about my adventures on the European island.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Stay Tuned!

– T.R.E.E.S Survival Team