Things can change and getting that positive message across is one of the things that most motivates us here in Mirlo Positive Nature: if we all do our bit, then not only is there still enough time for us to slow down the deterioration of nature, but we can also turn things around and transform it into a spiral of abundance. That’s why we want to talk today about Jesús León Santos, a peasant in Oaxaca (Mexico) with the soul of a Mirlo.
Thirty years ago, the land in the region of Mixteca (Oaxaca, Mexico), which is where Jesús León Santos hails from, was all dried up and seriously eroded. León decided to get to work and started planting trees in an attempt to transform the land into fertile, arable land – as it once was. He set up the Centre for the Integral Rural Development of Mixteca (CEDICAM, to use its Spanish initials), a democratic, ecological organisation which managed to unite all the farmers in the region.
Between all of them, using traditional, sustainable farming techniques, they have managed to plant two million trees of different native species, and they’ve restored the area’s biodiversity; they’ve dug hundreds of kilometres of ditches with which they hold back the water and thus protect the soil from erosion; and they’ve used traditional Mixteca techniques to restore the region’s ecosystem. One of their decisions was to stop using corn seeds brought in from elsewhere which require an intensive use of chemical products that damage the soil. Instead they went back to using native corn seeds that adapt perfectly to the local climate and are at the same time a symbol of Mixtecan cultural identity.
The results are plain to see: the once barren slopes are now covered in greenery, the water tables are full to the brim and what had become a mass emigration of local peasants has come to an end, thanks to the fact that they now have a new means of sustenance. Can there be any better example of a positive footprint?
Thanks to this commendable initiative Jesús León Santos received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2008. Created in 1989 by American philanthropists Richard N. Goldman and his wife Rhoda H. Goldman, this award seeks to give recognition to ordinary citizens who make an effort to defend and improve the environment. The prize is valued at 150,000 dollars.
We’ll leave you with a really interesting video which contains more information about Jesús Santos León, his project and the CEDICAM.