Last Thursday, October 3, 2013, we performed the latest quarterly inspection of the Rio Sol Biological Corridor project of which “38 Hectares of Valuable Resources for the Maleku” is a part. In case you don’t remember LRFF planted about 17,000 trees of over 110 species on 14 hectares (35 acres) of this property owned by Marvin Castro in Viento Fresco at the Maleku Reserve in Guatuso, Costa Rica.
Here is a link to the video that I made while up at the property last Thursday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDLg6b9JZ8Q&feature=em-upload_owner. I was so inspired by the progress of the reforested area that I documented it almost entirely on video. We show the different types of Cacao we planted here and the sheer lushness of the new forest, filled with life.
As we climbed up the hill where we planted in December 2011 my friend and LRFF’s field director, Jimmy Acosta, mentioned taking a photo from the same exact place during the planting. He searched through his little phone and found it. By looking at it we could situate ourselves almost perfectly in the same exact spot to capture an awesomely, inspirational set of before and after photos. They are included here.
Now we need to help the Maleku purchase back the reforested farm from Marvin Castro who isn’t a Maleku tribe member. This is the plight of the Maleku. The Tribal Council is working to recuperate their legal territory but the Costa Rican government doesn’t help them even though all the reserve lands (3000 hectares or 9000 acres)have been decreed theirs. The only way to move most of the non-indigenous landowners out is to buy back the land. Hopefully this report and the amazing photos showing just how quickly the carbon sequestering forests can be restored will urge you to act today. Share this project with friends and family, give us a leg up, if you can’t personally contribute. The well-being of indigenous people is our future and responsibility.
LET’S GET PLANTING!!
We are at $525! The trees planted at Marvin’s now almost two years ago are thriving. LRFF representatives went to check up on the property in June and early July, and were able to report great progress.
While seeing the property in July, a group of nine of us went up to the Maleku lands to honor all of the landowners who participated in the Rio Sol Biological Corridor project. Andres who works at HP in San Jose with his wife and two young children, volunteers Tom, Tammy, and Courtney, and Roberta and Dan, the back bone of LRFF completed the convoy. Andres and Roberta participated in HP’s Scope-A-Thon which helped identify LRFF’s greatest need. Very cool!
We caravanned from LRFF into the hills behind the other side of Lake Arenal to Guatuso. We drove deep into Maleku land and then hiked even further to three separate places to see how the trees were doing after two years of growth and establishment. We were disheartened to find out that someone had used Root Out herbicide at one of the locations, and to find that cows and horses had been in Marvin’s again. I’m realizing more and more that people are going to do what they’re going to do, and a contract sometimes can’t even keep them tame. Thankfully, on Marvin’s property, the horses weren’t harming any of the trees, and we located where the cows were coming from. Then, we all went to have a Tilapia lunch under an authentic Maleku Rancho, a large hut with a roof made of palm leaves with two open sides. The fish was very boney and we all had fun trying our own techniques of picking them out. Roberta presented the land owners with certificates. Even though I couldn’t understand their Spanish acceptance speeches, I could see in their faces that they were honored and very proud of their contributions. We took photos of everyone together: gringos, Ticos, Maleku, and all. To finish the day, we shot a bow and arrow, and all had a grand time.
Marvin is still crying the blues because of his dire financial situation. He called again about one month ago wondering how his project is doing, how many donations it has received.
This always worries me, especially since he has already been looking into cutting some of the trees in the existing forest to sell as lumber. He knows it is strictly prohibited by the Costa Rican forestry law and the agreement he has signed with LRFF, so I had to think fast to come up with something to save that forest.
I promised Marvin that I would create an existing forest project for his property like the ‘Save San Luis Forest, Save This Family” project. People donate to an existing forest as a way to offset their carbon emissions because the trees in these forests are working 24/7 absorbing and storing the CO2 we humans are emitting at higher and higher levels each year.
The San Luis Forest project reached it’s final funding this past week for the second time in three years. We try to pay the landowner every year but it depends on the amount of donations received how long it will take. Hopefully we can support this beautiful primary forest, save it from being degraded or worse, deforested, and at the same time help Marvin with some of his financial problems.
Thank you all so much for your generous support of this project and watch for the new project that we will be putting up soon. I’ll let you know in the next progress report.
There have been many reports from the Maleku Reserve about Marvin Castro and his farm these past two months.
A Maleku community member and worker on the Rio Sol Biological Corridor project called to report that Marvin was in contact with the Maleku Development Association trying to get a permit to cut the huge trees in the 24 hectares of primary forest on the property. I told this person that a permit couldn’t be allowed for two reasons. First, it is illegal to cut trees larger than a certain diameter in Costa Rica. Second, to remove the big trees from the primary forest the equipment would have to pass over the newly reforested areas and is strictly prohibited. Once an area is reforested it cannot be changed, ever.
A couple of weeks later Daniel went to look at Marvin’s reforested area in Viento Fresco to find it full of cattle. We got the cows out and found the owner who will be reimbursing LRFF for the damage done to the trees. He also fixed the fence and there haven’t been any problems since.
Last week Marvin called me again to ask about this project, if there were any donations. I told him that we had a little over $200 in donations at this time but since he wants $300,000 for the property it looks like it will take quite a while to fund the project. “Oh, Roberta”, said Marvin, “I am in such a bad financial state at this time. I owe the previous owner $28,000 and she wants her money. I’ve sold my business and don’t know what to do.” I didn’t know what to tell him but let him know that I had found out about his wanting to cut those beautiful trees and applying for a permit. His reply was that because of his need for funds he thought they were a very valuable resource and wanted to cash in on it.
This is the continuing problem with privately owned forest properties. Circumstances change and one of the first things people look for is a resource to cash in when times get tough. You see, this is 38 Hectares of Valuable Resources for the Maleku, but for a completely different reason. They don’t see trees as wood but as living beings we share the Earth with and who provide for us in a balanced way.
Marvin Castro, owner of this most beautiful 38 hectares of primary and recently restored forest, called me the other day wondering how the project is going. I told him that we have received a couple hundred dollars in donations toward the total cost of buying his land. Marvin’s land is part of the recuperation of Maleku territory project LRFF and the Maleku Tribal Council put in place two years ago.
Marvin has had a very tough time this past year. He found it necessary to sell his business in the nearby tourist mecca of La Fortuna. He has a small farm where he lives with his wife and son. This is the reason he needs badly to sell the property in Viento Fresco, high up on the mountain of the Maleku Reserve in Guatuso. He doesn’t live there and it’s difficult for him to travel there frequently to keep an eye on it. He really wants to give a “grain of sand” to the Maleku people so it might be theirs for a lot less.
Let’s make him an offer!! Fourteen hectares of the 38 are part of the Rio Sol Biological Corridor project. The maintenance crew just finished cleaning the young trees and they are growing at an incredible rate. The maintenance will be finished before the normal two years.
Here’s another way to support our projects and at the same time offset your GHG emissions. It’s a Win/Win opportunity, check out the link…
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