Two weeks ago it was time for the quarterly inspection of the Rio Sol Biological Corridor project. You guys remember because you helped us plant 35,000+ trees in a continuous corridor along the Sol River in partnership with different Maleku Tribe landowners. I went on October 3rd and got the most pleasant surprise. I described how I felt to my friend yesterday after he saw the before and after photos posted here. He remarked how awesome it was that I'm able to witness the change up close and personal and I told him that it was so awesome I could scream but people wouldn't understand. He answered that he would. :) And hey, blessed people, I do scream from the hillside up there where it's only the birds, me and Jimmy looking down on this majestic natural ecosystem WE, you, me and everyone who supports LRFF, are responsible for creating.
We planted 14,000+ trees and over 110 species here from nurseries created and tended by 14 different Maleku families in the village of Tonjibe. It's full of birds and evidence everywhere of wildlife living there, in less than two years.
Be sure to watch the short video of this quarterly inspection at this link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDLg6b9JZ8Q
Thank you, because of you we KEEP PLANTING! LOOK AT THE RESULTS!
The Rio Sol Biological Corridor Project has been near and dear to my heart for the past two years. I started donating a portion of my very small college student budget to the project to help off-set my carbon footprint and to support LRFF. In the last two years, I also saved up more money to come down to Costa Rica and physically volunteer at La Reserva for half of my summer. Financial sacrifices were involved, yes, but the satisfaction that I've gained from reading Roberta's updates, and now having the opportunity to see the progress that I've contributed to first hand, makes any and all sacrifices worthwhile.
During my time going to visit the Rio Sol, I saw that even with persistent checkups and maintenance, no project is flawless. At one site along the corridor, a property owner had sprayed Root Out herbicide onto the understory and destroyed any natural baby trees from being able to grow up. At another site, I saw horses in among the growing trees potentially feeding on their new leaves, and signs of cow tracks in the dark, muddy soil. I was so thrilled and energized to see Roberta respond immediately to the breaches in contact by calling the person in charge of management to straighten everything out. Roberta and Dan’s passion for the foundation is unmatched to anything else that I’ve seen.
And who am I? I am Courtney Caldwell, a proud La Reserva Forest Foundation volunteer. I am concluding my five weeks in the beautiful rainforest with a satisfied heart and new found motivation to continue pursuing environmental science. Thank you so much to all those out there like me who have donated. I hope more of you can come visit this gorgeous country.
This project has run into a problem and I think it’s very important to tell you about it.
LRFF has one employee and that’s only part time work, one or two days a week, his name is Jimmy Acosta Elizondo, LRFF’s field director. All other work is temporary for planting or maintenance.
Oh, what a team we all made planting together and afterward watching after the trees by keeping the other vegetation cleaned around them. Over the past two years we have become close friends with healing our Mother Earth in common, the love of restoring her natural environment. Last September, when the intensive maintenance was finished Deibys Villalobos Sibaja and Argelio Garcia Talavera, our last temporary employees, felt that they had been working full time with indefinite employment on the project. Consequently when there was no more need of their services until the next project starts they reported LRFF to the Ministry of Work.
Ever since last December we have attended court processes at the Ministry and this month at the courthouse in Guatuso. They are reporting that they worked full time for LRFF more than one year and demanding more money in back pay than they every earned. It’s not over with more court dates to come.
This is very common in Costa Rica and so many times I’ve thought about how I should’ve been a worker in Costa Rica and an employer in the United States. In the US, as an employee, we were lucky to get a dead turkey for Christmas. Bottom line, in Costa Rica an employer must pay each full time employee three months pay in bonuses, severance, vacation and holidays each YEAR. Hmm.
Good news! The trees are a forest now on all sides. Up in Viento Fresco at Marvin Castro’s farm, down to Franklin Mojica’s in Tonjibe and on down the Rio Sol to Lillian and Julio’s where the corridor began two years ago. Thirty-five hectares of newly forested land that otherwise would’ve sloughed off into the Rio Sol. Please don’t forget we still need funding for this project. The maintenance continues and inspections for the next five years. We have done this project under funded and have a lot to make up for, especially if we must pay Deibys and Argelio.
Many thanks to you all for your continued support.
We are almost finished with the maintenance of the Rio Sol Biological Corridor project. The second week of January we did another walk of the corridor with Jimmy Acosta, our field director, walking under the shade of all the trees planted in 2011 – 2012.
Jimmy is now doing the maintenance on his own and does a weekly inspection to make sure cattle haven’t gotten in and if so fixes fences. Two months ago we went up to Viento Fresco, the 14 hectares we planted in this project December 2011, and found it full of cows. They’d eaten all of the grass, a good thing, but also began nibbling on the fresh leaves of the young trees. We found the owner of the cattle and he will be reimbursing LRFF for one months’ use of the area and any damages that were incurred. He repaired the fences and felt very badly about the misunderstanding.
We still need your help to finish the maintenance of the corridor, the biggest accomplishment for LRFF since it’s founding in 2005. Many other landowners are anxious to participate, even other indigenous tribes in Costa Rica, and we will be adding some of these projects for your support in the future.
From all of us at LRFF, a humongous thank you for all of your support on this project. It couldn’t have been done without you. We love you, One Love.
LET’S GET PLANTING!
This is exciting news! We have edited the budget and project description on this project to reflect only three more months of tree maintenance. Have a look at the project page again and see what I mean.
We have made it our star project for end of year funding. It will take very little to finish the funding because the trees have grown so quickly in the Guatuso area. Jimmy Acosta Elizondo, LRFF field director, will be able to continue the maintenance on his own through April, only 1 year and 10 months after the first stage planting in June 2011.
Check out the photos included in this progress report to see the progress the trees have made and you’ll see what I mean. Some of the trees are still small and need a little more maintenance before they are above the grasses and vines that threaten them, but the vast majority are far above the surrounding vegetation. Once they are this tall they shade out the vines and grasses and a true tropical forest floor begins to develop.
We want to thank you for the support you have continued to afford this most important project for the Maleku indigenous tribe, the wildlife waiting on the fringes of the Rio Sol for the forest to return and our Mother Earth. In just 4 years this 35 hectares of restored forest will be sequestering and storing a minimum of 700 metric tons of CO2 annually.
Have a great holiday season and an amazing new year.
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