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 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:

Jul 7, 2014

Telling Stories

Maleku Scribes
Maleku Scribes

La Reserva Forest Foundation (LRFF) works closely with local communities to ensure that our projects deliver the best possible social and environmental outcomes. However, we’re always looking for new opportunities to learn more about the communities where we work in order to better serve their needs. This summer, Global Giving provided us with the opportunity to do just that through their newly released program and Storytelling Fund (see an announcement regarding the launch of the fund and related program at http://tools.blog.globalgiving.org/2014/04/17/announcing-the-community-feedback-fund/).

After applying to the fund and receiving a generous $1,300 grant to undertake the project, LRFF reached out to local high schools in two of the communities where we work to recruit student volunteers. Eager to learn more about their communities (and excited to earn a small stipend for their efforts), each volunteer went through a training that introduced them to LRFF, the Storytelling Fund, the importance of social science research and their assignments over the next several weeks. After practicing with each other and gaining some experience in a quick trial run, we sent the volunteers out into their communities to conduct interviews using prepared questionnaires with two main prompts:

(1) Please tell a story about a time when a person or an organization tried to help someone or change something in your community.

(2) Please tell a story about a time when you had to choose between protecting the environment and maintaining a livelihood. Include if/how individuals or organizations were involved in the conflict.

The results? LRFF has already collected over 130 stories addressing topics from volcanic eruptions and earthquakes to arsenic in the groundwater. Some of the stories are optimistic – promising tales of the recovery of iguanas or scarlet macaws – while others sadly document the degradation of tropical forests or long-abandoned community centers. But however different the stories may be, they all remind us of one thing: the undertakings of non-profits, other organizations and individuals do not always align with the interests of local communities, and this misalignment is often to the detriment of the intervening body, the communities themselves, or both. For LRFF, this makes listening to the communities where we work as critical to the realization of our own mission as it is to addressing the concerns of the communities we seek to serve. Now, as we sift through the stories and prepare to organize and analyze the data they contain, we hope to pan out the clues that will lead us to these win-win scenarios for tropical forests and local livelihoods alike.

We hope you continue to follow us in this endeavor to see what secrets the stories reveal!

Maleku scribes writing their first story
Maleku scribes writing their first story
Gretchen shuffling stories
Gretchen shuffling stories
Tronadora student with Gretchen
Tronadora student with Gretchen
Carlos, Tronadora scribe
Carlos, Tronadora scribe
Daniela, Tronadora scribe
Daniela, Tronadora scribe
Tronadora scribe
Tronadora scribe
Luis, Tronadora scribe
Luis, Tronadora scribe

Links:

Jun 23, 2014

And The Work Continues...

Doing inventory at the Chimurria property
Doing inventory at the Chimurria property

This past week we had nine volunteers at La Reserva on Thursday, June 19th, the peak day. John Witter, our most excellent volunteer from Illinois, accompanied me on my last inventory for the Strack Transportation sponsored projects we began planting at the end of September 2013 on the Gonzalez property in La Fortuna. Here’s his report… 

Roberta Ward Smiley with volunteer John Witter and Maleku Jimmy Acosta Elizondo traveled to Chimurria de Upala to inventory Elias Cruz’s nursery. In total there are 1899 trees of 38 different species. More trees will be acquired from Elias other nursery in Delicias de Upala to obtain a wider variety of species. Jimmy suggested we take a look at the planting area once more before planting begins on June 23rd. With Elias’ son we walked and measured the planting site for the project. The site is a strip of land with many banana trees 690+ meters long and a width of less than 10 meters before reaching swamp. After crossing approximately 200 meters of swamp, there is more land to plant trees. Another thin strip of land across the swamp is more than 1200 meters. The entire area of the planting site is about 2 hectares.

John is being very humble because it was a “swamp run”. When Jimmy and I first surveyed the project it was during the dry season in March. We walked along the high ground/strip of land and on the left there was a swampy, slow moving river and the other side was a pasture. Now that it’s rainy season the pasture on the left side is filled with at least 2 feet of water and the strip of land that we’ll plant this month is covered with a type of saw grass. As we walked along the land we dodged old banana plants and got cut on our arms by the grass. After the 690+ meter point we had to ford about 200 meters of swamp, up to our hips in some places. None of us were prepared, we were wearing leather boots, tennis shoes and Crocs. John never complained once, none of us did, but we were glad to get back to Elias house.

Next we traveled to Elias farm in Delicias de Upala to inventory Santiago’s nursery. There are over 4,000 trees among 94 different species. It was touching to see how proud Santiago was of the large variety of species he was able to find. We talked to him early on about how to collect a vast array of species easily and Jimmy went over to help him “see”. All total we will plant over 6000 trees in the next couple of weeks. J

We are waiting to implement the Reforesting the Deforestation project because that would be 42,000 trees (42 has.), 7 times the area and amount of trees in this project. I love the fieldwork and love to share these stories with you to give you a feel for our on the ground work. And the work continues…

LET’S GET PLANTING!!

LRFF Volunteers, June 2014
LRFF Volunteers, June 2014
Walking Elias planting site at Delicias
Walking Elias planting site at Delicias
Santiago and his family
Santiago and his family

Links:

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