The very high patterns of rainfall, matched with local burning practices, have resulted in highly leached tropical soils, with very low organic matter, which severely limits their use for agricultural purposes.
To make matters worse, the burning, over many decades, has also resulted in a hard crust that causes rainfall to pond on the surface and then run off instead of infiltrating the soil. The runoff increases erosion and high-water flows in all the water courses.
We believe our operations can have positive impacts on soil health. First, we are helping reduce burning in the region. Second, when the leaves fall from our trees they decompose and add critical organic matter to the soil. And third, the trees help rainwater infiltrate into the soil, rather than pooling on the surface.
It is still early in this process and research is being conducted to measure these changes over time. But early evidence shows a rapid increase in organic soil matter, which is now measured on an annual basis and is a key aspect in sustainable land management. And without uncontrolled wildfires, soils are beginning to recover from decades of degradation.