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Sustainable Land Use Practices

An Urgent Need for Change

Most Nandamojo landowners use simple strategies to maintain their farms, employing herbicides or fire to clear and maintain spaces for cattle or subsistence agriculture. Little thought is given to the protection of water resources. Why? First, agricultural outreach programs that have trained most of Guanacaste’s farmers put little or no importance on doing so.Second, the stagnant local economy has left most landowners struggling to make ends meet and unable to invest in new strategies for land use.

The situation poses a grave threat to the future of the Nandamojo and its residents. Cleared land absorbs less water than forests, so a larger percentage of rain on cleared areas becomes surface runoff instead of infiltrating the ground to recharge aquifers. The runoff is “lost” instead of “harvested,” and can further damage an ecosystem by carrying away topsoil through erosion.

Some Nandamojo communities are already reporting groundwater shortages during Guanacaste’s dry season, which is a six-month period of absolute drought.

Change is needed, especially considering that climate change models predict that this area of Costa Rica will receive even less rain in future decades.

ROW is working with Nandamojo farmers to change the way they use their land, to harvest more rainwater and prevent erosion.