La Reserva Forest Foundation

La Reserva Forest Foundation is a Costa Rican non-profit, tax exempt foundation working to restore and preserve native tropical forests, dedicated to creating "tree bridges" linking isolated forest islands using volunteers and the local school communities, and fighting global warming through various carbon neutral projects.
Jul 30, 2014

SUCCESSFUL EDUCATIONAL REFORESTATION PROJECT

Passing out trees to be planted
Passing out trees to be planted

Since our last report we haven’t been sitting around. LRFF has planted over 6000 trees and many of those trees have been collected and planted by local school children in the communities we serve. These are our “stakeholders”, the Guardians of the Future Forests.

The entire student body at the local Jardin de Niños learned why tropical forests are important and how to implement a native reforestation project step by step. First we gave an entertaining presentation about tropical forests and the next week the students came to the La Reserve forest preserve to experience the rich biodiversity of a virgin forest and learn how to collect tree seedlings from the forest floor. They planted these in the nursery we helped them create from recycled containers at the school. Six months from that day (we figure November 2014) we will plant the 200 trees in the side yard of the school to increase the tree species diversity and provide a “living” classroom for future students.

Then on July 17th we planted the last of the 6000 trees in the “For The Monkeys” project. This is the last of the three-project combo that Strack Premier Transportation has been sponsoring in their Give Back With Strack” Initiative to offset all of the limousine company’s 2013 GHG emissions. 

It was a great day, all planned. Gretchen, Jimmy and I arrived at the little elementary school in the center of the village of Delicias. The student body followed us, single file, to the entrance of Elias Cruz’s farm where the final area was waiting to be planted. Even the local police chief came to help out. When we got to the entrance that was the end of single file, the boys took off running to the horror of their teachers who were accompanying us.

The holes were dug and I passed out baby trees to the kids to distribute at each hole. When that was accomplished we all planted the 150 final trees in less than 20 minutes. We walked over to a small area reserved for planting 16 trees purchased for the Commune Utopia in the virtual world of Second Life. Watch the video, we planted 16 trees in just 1 minute.  

The happy ending to all of this…the neighbor adjacent to the corridor we just planted on Elias’s property is now waiting for us to fund his own little project of 1½ hectare (4 acres). It will connect and increase the habitat for the monkeys even more. The property is also right across the street in front of the school and Fabio, the owner of the property, is a director of schools working for the Ministry of Education in San Jose.

Another snowball effect of our work…the police chief took us to an even smaller village nearby on the Nicaraguan border where the school wants to reforest the schoolyard of 1 hectare (2 ½ acres) and create a 15 meter biological on the San Ramon river passing through the community of the same name. The environmental destruction in this area has been hidden from view and something must happen soon to save the river and the small lake that’s drying up at nearby Camilla Reserve.

You see, we’ve been busy and this Liberia project is the same story. When it is funded we will get started restoring the University of Liberia’s research forest and then the snowball effect will enable us all to restore all of the beautiful forests that have been destroyed there causing so much sickness, suffering and lack of ecological diversity in this war torn country. Come on everyone…

LET’S GET PLANTING!

Heading out to plant some trees
Heading out to plant some trees
Police chief and the boys, been planting
Police chief and the boys, been planting
Selfie with the kids
Selfie with the kids

Links:

Jul 30, 2014

Planting With The Kids

Angel planting with care and joy
Angel planting with care and joy

Surrounded by nearly 50 giggling elementary school children, I set out with LRFF’s Roberta Ward Smiley and Jimmy Acosta through a flooded cow pasture near Upala, Costa Rica to plant trees as a part of our foundation’s “For the Monkeys” project. Titled as such because of the importance of the area for Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, and White-Faced Monkeys, the project includes expanding a forested river corridor by roughly 6,000 trees of over 100 different varieties. However, I quickly discovered that planting with the school children that day was more an exercise in planting ideas in the minds of Costa Rican kids than planting seedlings in Costa Rican soil. 

Just a few weeks earlier, when preparing for the planting, we learned from local workers that many of the people surrounding the project viewed the local monkeys as more of a nuisance than a valuable (and increasingly threatened) population. Without the support of the local community, new or recovering forests and their many animal inhabitants are unlikely to prosper. Because of this reality, community outreach is an important part of many of our projects, including “For the Monkeys.” Thus, to help educate and enthuse the local community, we met with the director of the local elementary school – a quick, five-minute walk away from the planting site. She agreed that a field trip to the planting site would be an educational, hands-on experience for the local children, and a fun way for them to learn about LRFF’s work and the importance of tropical forests.

…And so we found ourselves leading a group of neatly uniformed children through waist-high grass and muddy puddles, their laughs, screams and chatter complementing the calls of the insects, birds and monkeys. Although we at LRFF rarely meet a group as excited as we are about planting trees, on this day we were undoubtedly outshined by the tiny hands eagerly reaching for trees and lovingly patting down handfuls of dirt around the freshly planted seedlings. In less than 40 minutes, our petite but powerful posse planted over 150 trees.

While the children learned about the local flora, fauna and planting process, I received a lesson in the unbridled enthusiasm of Costa Rica’s littlest environmentalists. As the policy-makers, farmers, landowners, entrepreneurs and scientists of tomorrow, these children are truly the key to conservation. If we can continue to nurture their natural passion for the environment, I think our forests have a very bright future.

On the way to plant some trees!
On the way to plant some trees!
Handing out the trees
Handing out the trees
Jimmy, the police, Roberta and students
Jimmy, the police, Roberta and students

Links:

Jul 21, 2014

Onward and Upward

An anteater came to see what
An anteater came to see what's the fuss about

Thank you, muchas gracias, mercí and afepakian…those are the only first words appropriate for this final progress report for the “Rio Sol Bio Corridor, Maleku Reserve, Costa Rica”. It’s been the most gratifying project for LRFF to date and will remain in our memories as our first really massive planting. It was very challenging making it a  “seat of the pants” accomplishment in a huge way.

Not least the other projects that this project led to. Just last week we finished planting a three-project combo that used to be on Global Giving, a total of 10,000 trees of more than 150 species and ALL of them now in the ground.

The Rio Sol Bio Corridor was partially sponsored by Sole Technology, the makers of etnies© shoes. In March 2011 the CEO and founder, Pierre Andres Senizergues, came to Costa Rica to inaugurate the project with his team of champion surfers and skateboarders. When he returned to the U.S. he took a limousine home from the airport and the young man who drove him heard all about his AMAZING trip to Costa Rica and how he was helping to plant 35,000 trees with LRFF and the Maleku indigenous people. The driver was a young man named Matt Strack he had a new premier transportation company, Strack Premier Transportation, and using a green approach by including some hybrids in his fleet.

Two years later Matt called me…he was in Costa Rica for a visit and wanted to come see if he could do something similar to what etnies© had done now that his business had grown. He calculated the projected GHG emissions of the business for 2013 and discovered he’d be responsible for approximately 366 tons of emissions. To “offset” those emissions planting trees he’d need to plant almost 10,000. I got to thinking…we had three projects on GlobalGiving earning a few donations to date and by combining the there would be a total of 10,000 trees.

Matt agreed to completely fund the project (10,000 trees) via monthly installments. He planned to pay for the trees planting by asking his clients to voluntarily pay an extra $1.50/ride. He figured he could probably raise around $1000/month, depending on how much his clientele supported the initiative. They loved it and were happy to support it. Strack Transportation hasn’t missed a monthly installment and now all three projects are now planted and in maintenance mode.

I say onward and upward because whilst planting the last 6000 trees in Las Delicias de Upala last week (see photos in this report), @ the For The Monkeys project a neighbor and the local police approached because they have other projects they want us to develop and implement in the surrounding communities and with the local school kids. Onward, upward…

LET’S KEEP PLANTING!

The nursery team in full swing, sans shoes :)
The nursery team in full swing, sans shoes :)
Boating to plant trees, quiet and peaceful
Boating to plant trees, quiet and peaceful
The school kids and me, a massive selfie
The school kids and me, a massive selfie
Ladies planting! 1500 trees in one day
Ladies planting! 1500 trees in one day

Links:

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