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.
Apr 30, 2014

Continuing Care for Our Communities & Forests

Illegally cleared forest in Guatuso, Costa Rica
Illegally cleared forest in Guatuso, Costa Rica

Although trees provide the foundation of many healthy and vibrant tropical ecosystems, even the largest trees that we plant or preserve require ongoing monitoring for the length of their lives. This makes your support critical not just for native tree nurseries and initial plantings, but also for the monitoring and maintenance that inevitably follows in the years to come. This month, the La Reserva Forest Foundation was reminded of just how important continuing observation – and sometimes intervention – is for the forests and communities we work with.

Franklin and his wife envisaged that their once bare land could be returned to lush, native forests. In 2011, their dream came true when La Reserva Forest Foundation helped them plant 4,000 treeson four hectares of their land in the indigenous Maleku Reserve. Though Frank’s wife sadly passed in January of this year, Frankhas continued to cherish and care for their new forests. Now, just 3 years after planting, the formerly degraded land that surrounded their home is a beautiful and valuable habitat.

 However, when we visited Frank this month, we found him distraught after finding that a neighbor had gone into his forests and cut down many of his prized trees. Though the trees are protected by both Frank’s tenure, a 5-year contract with La Reserva Forest Foundation, and arguably international law, property disputes or intentional deforestation for financial gains are ever-present threats here in Costa Rica.

After a visit to the freshly cut trees, we provided counsel to Frank, contacted the police and explained the situation. The police responded and pursued conversations with the neighbor, establishing the legal reality that protects the trees. Although the forest in question will undoubtedly continue to face threats from people seeking to benefit from its land or lumber, we left optimistic that Frank’s trees and his wife’s dream would be protected.

And so we say to our audience and supporters: Thank you for your support, not just for new projects and plantings, but also for your support between projects. You allow us to serve as the eyes, ears, and advocates of the forest when no one else can.

Police in cleared forest in Guatuso, Costa Rica
Police in cleared forest in Guatuso, Costa Rica
Cleared forest in Guatuso, Costa Rica
Cleared forest in Guatuso, Costa Rica

Links:

Apr 22, 2014

Growing, Growing, Growing!

Bienvenido next to an Ylang Ylang, planted in 2011
Bienvenido next to an Ylang Ylang, planted in 2011

I was going through the pics I have stored on my iPhone recently and was astounded at the stages of growth for this project. Have a look for yourself in this report.  

Thank you for being generous in supporting this project. It’s been a work in progress for more than 2 1/2 years and together we have planted over 35,000 native trees in a continuous corridor along the Rio Sol. The river travels, snakelike, through all three Maleku villages or Palenques and the trees are planted along the banks from 10 to 15 meters wide.  

It all began when Sole Technology, the makers of etnies Shoes and other great sports gear, contacted us in 2010 to inform us that the board of directors and CEO of the company had voted unanimously to donate $17,500 to buy the 35,000 trees that would be planted with the Maleku indigenous tribe. Pierre Andres Senizergues, founder and CEO of etnies, is an ex-world champion skateboarder and we have remained friends ever since the first tree was planted. Frequently, when I post updates about LRFF or about the Rio Sol project, he will write to say “keep up the good work”. 

Last month I sent the photos you see here to Pierre after he wrote one of these notes asking if I had any photos of “our” projects development. He was astounded by the before and after photos of the Viento Fresco property and happy to see his old friend Bienvenido, President of the Maleku Tribal Council. In fact he was so impressed he told his art director who contacted me last week asking me to send the photos to him so they can include them in their latest catalog. The donations from etnies was promoted by the company as a campaign called “Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree”. The idea is to let the customers see how great the trees they planted are doing. 

Pierre’s life story is an amazing account of a poor guy finding his passion, skateboarding, dedicating his whole life to it, traveling across the sea to California, becoming the world champion skateboarder and, after retiring, founding Sole Technology. Even his company is solar powered, check out the link to read about Pierre Andrea and his responsible company. 

Thank you all for accompanying us on this great journey, there is still more to come. But until then…

Let’s Get Planting!!

Bienvenido and yours truly
Bienvenido and yours truly
Viento Fresco, 2011 planting time, see the house?
Viento Fresco, 2011 planting time, see the house?
2013 - Same view @ Viento Fresco 2 yrs. later
2013 - Same view @ Viento Fresco 2 yrs. later
Panorama of Viento Fresco 2013
Panorama of Viento Fresco 2013
Rio Sol Bio Corridor, January 2014, 2 1/2 yrs
Rio Sol Bio Corridor, January 2014, 2 1/2 yrs

Links:

Apr 7, 2014

The Maleku Wait

Rio Celeste, the turquoise river
Rio Celeste, the turquoise river

We had a distinguished visitor in March, Ron Jones. Ron learned about La Reserva almost a year ago and contacted us, interested in partnering with us to help plant even more trees. All of our contact was via internet and it wasn't until the end of February that he was able to make the trip to Costa Rica from Florida to meet us face to face. 

I took Ron all over the area showing him the projects we have planted to date and our crowning glory, the one that I am most proud of, the Rio Sol Biological Corridor. This project, "38 Hectares of Valuable Resources for the Maleku", was part of the Rio Sol project because we reforested the remaining 14 hectares of Marvin's farm still in pasture. The other 28 hectares are covered with a majestic, primary forest, are at the headwaters of the Rio Sol and also the "spring" or source of all the potable water flowing down to the three Maleku villages. 

On the day we visited, before meeting with the Maleku Tribal Council in the afternoon, we went out to check on the nurseries for the next project we will plant when the rainy season begins. It's 6000+ trees in a continuous biological corridor on two different farms owned by Elias Cruz. The project was posted on Global Giving, "For The Monkeys" but was fully funded by our corporate sponsor Strack Premium Transportation. You can see in the photos how the nurseries look, lots of trees and lots of work went into creating the shady bower for the baby tree's protection. 

On the way back to meet with the Tribal Council we drove over the Rio Celeste and Ron thought the river was contaminated because of the bright blue color. He was amazed that it was naturally turquoise and shared a photo with us from the bridge.

Speaking with the Tribal Council secretary and treasurer, Emigdio Cruz and Alfredo Acosta, respectively, Ron wanted to know how we can help the tribe, what are their needs and biggest issues. I mentioned that from the very beginning, when we first contacted them, the Maleku have said they want their decreed territory returned to them however possible and when returned they would partner with LRFF to reforest 2/3's of it. The governement of Costa Rica decreed 3000 hectares as Maleku territory in 1976 but to date have not expropriated the lands owned by the non-indigenous landowners. This is still their biggest issue and that's what this project is all about. 

Because LRFF is founded  on only "positive action" the best solution we could come up with is to attempt to buy some of the lands back via donations from people around the world who understand and appreciate the plight of this tribe. Then, hopefully, after buying back a couple of farms the government will be exposed and pressured into doing whatever is necessary to return this small portion of the Maleku's original 60,000 hectares to them. Marvin wants to sell, is begging to sell the property! This is our chance...if we can come up with even part of the full amount needed we can probably bargain with Marvin and get the first farm back to the people who truly own it. 

One of Elias Cruz
One of Elias Cruz's nurseries
Elias second nursery, 5000 trees "For the Monkeys"
Elias second nursery, 5000 trees "For the Monkeys"
Rancho of Alfredo Acosta, Maleku Tribal Council
Rancho of Alfredo Acosta, Maleku Tribal Council
Tribal Council Meeting
Tribal Council Meeting

Links:

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