Tul Reforestation Project
The Tul plant (Scirpus californicus) grows naturally in the water near the shores of Lake Atilán, where it provides a protective barrier and filter against contaminants, as well as habitat for waterfowl, fish, crustaceans, and migratory birds. Tul in the lake has decreased significantly due to a rapid change in water levels a few years ago.
We are spearheading initiatives with local organizations and volunteers to reforest Tul. It is very good at absorbing nutrients that are contaminating the lake, plus each plant has billions of beneficial microbes living on it, which consume even more nutrients and also filter the water. The Tul plantings also provide habitat for wildlife, and material for handicrafts to help the local economy.
Floating Gardens Project.
Rafts covered with soil and plants are anchored in the lake to create floating garden “wetlands” that clean the water. The plant roots grow through the raft bottom into the lake, where they absorb nitrogen and phosphorous. Bacteria create a biofilm on the raft and roots that consumes nitrogen and phosphorous, converting them to less harmful substances.
Pollutants such as metals and particulates are also filtered out, since suspended solids bond to the biofilm. This makes the water clearer, which lets light penetrate deeper, thereby letting plants grow deeper, bringing oxygen deeper. Organic matter that attaches to the underside of the floating islands provides food for fish, and the islands provide habitat for birds. Planting floating gardens with commercially valuable plants can increase the impact of this project.
Floating Rings Project.
Like big hula hoops, floating rings are placed in the lake, and the interior is filled with water hyacinths, which work to consume contaminants and filter the water. Every couple of weeks, some of the hyacinths are harvested for use in composting operations to improve organic farming in the Lake Atitlán area, thus removing nutrients from the lake and converting those nutrients into high-quality organic compost for local farmers.
San Bartolo Sanitation Project.
Organic Coffee Co-op Project.