Project update: how are the new forest giants doing in Costa Rica?
02 October 2023
02 October 2023
Hard work is underway on the project in Costa Rica! Thanks to our donors, Trees for All is helping to restore 25 hectares of tropical rainforest here. We visited to see how the project is doing. With the efforts of local people and our partner Adopt Rainforest Foundation, the first trees are in the ground. How are these new forest giants doing?
Large parts of Costa Rica’s tropical rainforest have disappeared. The forest has given way to cattle ranches and vast banana and pineapple plantations. And that is a big problem for biodiversity. Our project area is an example of this: a barren plain previously used as cattle pasture. A big contrast with the surrounding rainforest that is bursting with life.
That has to change, says our partner Foundation Adopt Rainforest. Founders Matthijs Bol and Maarten van der Beek are therefore committed to preserving existing rainforest. They buy land and protect it from logging and poaching, including recently a piece of deforested land. This 25 hectares where rainforest previously stood is now being reforested thanks to donations through Trees for All.
In this project, we work closely with the local population. Nine people from the indigenous Cabecár community are employed to plant the trees together with Adopt Rainforest.
The employees live in the nearby indigenous Cabécar reserve, which is southeast of the project area. Thanks to the reforestation project, they have a steady income for six months. And they are extremely happy about this, they informed us. After all, there is very little employment in the region, apart from temporary jobs on the banana and pineapple plantations.
By involving local people in the project, we also hope to raise awareness about the importance of tropical rainforest in the communities. The more people protect the forest, the better!
Do you also want to contribute to a forested world? Plant a tree in one of our forest projects! That way, together, we will ensure a liveable planet for us all.Plant a tree
Planting was also busy during our project visit. The first 1,000 trees had only been in the ground for a few days. Shortly afterwards, rain fell: a good start! Of course, we also rolled up our sleeves ourselves, because there is work to be done. A total of 27,500 trees will be planted.
The saplings that went into the ground looked very healthy. They are purchased through the nearby Costa Rican university EARTH. This is a forestry university with a tree nursery.
Basically, the project area receives enough rainfall throughout the year for the young plantings. To be on the safe side, hydrogel is added to the planting holes in case a dry period does arrive. These granules ensure that rainwater is better absorbed and then gradually releases it.
After planting, a number of employees will be employed for longer periods for maintenance. Just before and after planting, grasses, weeds, creeping and climbing plants are mowed around the trees. This way, growth is not stunted and they get enough light.
In the first few years, mowing is still done regularly and all creepers and climbers are removed. After three years, the saplings have grown so much that they rise above these plants. In some tree species, this goes like clockwork. For example, a brazilian fern tree (Schizolobium parahyba) planted earlier in the reserve is about 27 metres tall after three years!
Not only is the project good for employment, it also creates more biodiversity in the region. Costa Rica is home to almost five per cent of the world’s species of flora and fauna! But on such a barren grassland, with no trees for food and protection, few species can survive. Thanks to forest restoration, more and more animals will return to the area.
In addition, the planting brings the connection between the Adopt Rainforest reserve and the Barbilla National Park another step closer. That is the ultimate goal: to connect the surrounding nature reserves and create a contiguous habitat for all kinds of plants and animals.
Besides being a habitat for animals, the rainforest is also important for the region’s water supply. Thanks to the trees, water is better retained and filtered. This makes the forest an important source of water for the population.
Maarten and Matthijs took us to one of these water sources in the reserve. They recently opened up this piece of land to the village. “This gives the residents of San Miguel direct access to water for their households. To transport the water to the village, pipelines are currently being laid.”
About 15,000 trees have now been planted. Another 12,500 will be added. Planting the trees is only the beginning, because growing a forest is a long-term job. Fortunately, the maintenance involved provides long-term employment. This will strengthen ties with local people.
Also, our project is part of the reserve of Adopt Rainforest. Thanks to the protection of this foundation, the new forest can develop in peace and will be preserved. By joining forces, the tropical rainforest in Costa Rica will regain hope.