L o a d i n g . . .

23/05/2024

[Climate Solutions Lab Series] A Green Future: The Story of Milady Cornejo and Forest Restoration at the Local Level in Guatemala

Article originally published on the Impulsouth project website

 

Milady Cornejo, a professional in environmental management engineering, has focused her career on seeking practical solutions to climate change. She has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to reforestation and the sustainable management of natural resources in Guatemala. And through the Impulsouth initiative and its Climate Solutions Lab, she hopes to share her story and serve as inspiration for a new generation of environmental leaders.

Growing up in Guatemala, a country rich in biodiversity but marked by the adverse effects of climate change, Milady has witnessed rising temperatures, water scarcity, soil degradation, and forest fires. With a deep love for the outdoors, she uses her background in environmental management engineering to develop initiatives that help mitigate these impacts and build vulnerable communities’ climate change resilience.

Milady works for The Green Development Association of Guatemala (ASOVERDE) as a forest restoration technician. In this role, she is coordinating a landscape restoration project using 5 high-value native species and is installing a rainwater harvesting system in Impala. She is also involved in a food security project in Esquipulas, where she is working to establish family gardens and diversify agricultural production. She aims not only to replant degraded land but also to improve the local communities’ quality of life through sustainable agricultural practices and water conservation.

“It is within our power to choose, and with that choice comes the potential for greatness. We can be the architects of a future full of compassion, understanding, and progress. We hold the keys to a world where kindness reigns supreme, where bridges are built instead of walls, and where empathy guides our actions. We can be the stewards of an environment that flourishes, where nature and humanity coexist.”

Milady’s time in Impulsouth’s Climate Solutions Lab helped her develop her approach to climate action. The guidance she received and the tools she acquired allowed her to think outside the box and hone in on solutions that directly benefit people and communities. This shift in perspective made it possible for her to develop her project in a more professional way.

One of Milady’s favorite quotes is from Dr. Jane Goodall: “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” She is glad to be making a difference in rural communities by successfully replanting forests in degraded areas and installing rainwater harvesting systems to support sustainable agriculture and residential water use. These actions have generated enthusiasm and community support and are contributing to climate change adaptation and sustainable development at the local level.

 

Climate Solution Summary: Local forest restoration model based on climate information in the dry corridor of Guatemala

The proposal is being implemented in the rural area of Ipala, where most families’ main economic activity is the cultivation of basic grains and, to a smaller degree, extensive cattle ranching using natural pastures. The cultivation and grazing areas are lands with high slopes and stony soils, which result in low agricultural yields. Unlined rainwater storage facilities will be created at each site selected for restoration. A basic irrigation system will also be installed, with ring filters, polyduct hoses, and individual drippers, to optimize the use of the available water.

The implementation of the local restoration model is expected to generate employment opportunities for the families in the communities, as they will be carrying out the activities included in the solution. The restoration areas will also be eligible for forestry incentive programs that will increase family incomes and facilitate financing for management after the establishment of the plantations. The methodology that will be used to establish the plantations will substantially improve plant survival and could potentially be replicated in areas surrounding the pilot sites, thus contributing to landscape restoration.