Restoring Forests in Guatuso, Alajuela, Costa Rica

by La Reserva Forest Foundation
Vetted

06/08/2015

Dear La Reserva Supporters and Donors,

                We at LRFF are currently in the process of evaluating and reprioritizing a few of our projects listed on Global Giving’s website. One of these projects, “Restoring the Forests of Guatuso”, is currently funded close to $2000 out of the $36,000 needed to implement the project. In addition, the reforestation efforts for this project are spread out amongst several small landowners as a “bundled” package for optimal conservation, but some have withdrawn their commitment making it a less feasible and effective strategy. It is our opinion that we need to continue to reforest the tropics and provide alternative land use conservation strategies for rural landowners in Costa Rica. For us to be effective and efficient we are directing our efforts to smaller projects that are much easier to fundraise and implement. We also are looking to further work with exisiting landowners who wish to expand their conservation efforts. In order to accomplish this we need to close out larger and more visionary projects that are too expensive, despite they resonate with our mission and ideals of reforesting and protecting large swaths of tropical forests.

                Our process will begin with closing this project out and using the current funds to roll over into another project. The funds from ”Restoring the Forests of Guatuso” will be combined, along with several other projects we have yet to close out, into this new project. This new project, to be posted shortly, is a 1.5 hectare expansion of a property we reforested during the Rio Sol Biological Corridor with Etnies Shoes. The landowner Lilly is grateful to be working with La Reserva again to reforest additional parts of her land and generate some income from the payments for ecosystem services (PESs). The planned expansion will extend the current biological corridor along the river and connect to another existing jungle patch. Keep an eye out on our project page on Global Giving to find out more information. We want the Global Giving community and the fans of La Reserva to know we are thinking long and hard about the best ways to use your dollars to be the most impactful. Your trust is important to us and we want you to know your money is being put towards successful reforestation projects. If you have any questions or concerns with the closing of this project please feel free to contact me further at: matt@lrff.org

You can also check out our website and Facebook page for more information and latest updates.

Thank you all.

Sincerely,

Matthew Lee

President

La Reserva Forest Foundation- US

Jeffrey and me three years ago
Jeffrey and me three years ago

Today a second notice arrived to remind me that a progress report was due and I’m very sorry for leaving you all hanging but I’ve been waiting for some vital information concerning this project so that I could pass it on to you.

I posted this project initially in mid 2012…a lot of time has passed since then and consequently the majority of the six landowners who wanted to participate have changed plans for their land or even passed away. Aware of this, Matt Lee, the president of LRFF, and I met a couple of weeks ago and decided that we could revise the “Reforesting Guatuso” project and include only Jeffrey Lacayo’s property at the Maleku Palenque Sol. I told Matt it was small enough that we might have enough funds to implement it with the donations we have received to day and the roll over of funds from another project we want to deactivate for the same reason.

That’s where we stand currently with this project, waiting for the land measurement to be confirmed by Jeffrey. I talked to him and he wants to go on but things move real slowly in Costa Rica. When I get the land area to be planted I can revise the budget for the area, amount of trees, fencing, labor, etc. You will see the new project and will be the first to know when we can begin the nursery and start planting. 

Jeffrey
Jeffrey's land - will plant around the edge
Young chocolate warrior
Young chocolate warrior

While we wait for the “Reforesting Guatuso” project to receive full funding we are definitely not standing still here in Costa Rica. Want to know what we’ve been up to down here? 

LRFF planted 8000 trees in only two months, July to September 2014 and the Maleku indigenous tribe (our planting partners) held their annual Cultural Festival in early October.

 

Planting 8000 Trees

A project previously posted on GlobalGiving, “For The Monkeys” and funded by Strack Premier Transportation was planted (7000 trees) in July with the help of the local school children in Delicias de Upala.

Another small project of 900 trees was planted the first week of September. We planted Helen Hollenbeck's trees September 8th at Nicida Elizondo's property in Palenque Margarita, Maleku Indigenous Reserve, Guatuso. It was a super hot day, full sun and there were 6 of us planting. YES me too! Shouting out a BIG thanks to Beth Hollenbeck for her generous donation to fully fund this project in honor of her late sister, Helen.

Helen was one of LRFF's first supporters, when I founded the organization in 2005 in Costa Rica. She was instrumental in putting together our first, local fundraiser at the nearby "party house". She continued to support our projects until her death almost two years ago. She now has a one-hectare forest along the Rio Sol adjacent to the 35 hectare Rio Sol Biological Corridor project planted in 2011 - 2012 (35,000 trees) and it holds her spirit. These 900+ trees will sequester and store more than 20 metric tons of GHG emissions each year.

We finished the planting by 3 pm and then went to pay Nicida for the trees she raised in her nursery for the six months prior to planting. We planted over 95 native species. 

 

Maleku Cultural Festival

My family, the Maleku indigenous tribe have their annual cultural festival every October, the first weekend. I haven't attended since 2010 but made it a priority this year.  I didn't get many photos but my friend, Hiqui Maleku posted Ricardo Araya's professional quality photos and I wanted to share them with you...

See photos below of the beautiful artwork and various competitive events…bow and arrow, firewood carrying and the Chicha drinking contest. Chicha is the Maleku version of wine or beer, made of fermented Yuca (Cassava), Corn or even Pineapple. This year the contestants were all women and Daisy won by drinking a large bowl in less than 45 seconds. Click to see the video.

Next year join us the first week of October and see you there! In the meantime…

LET’S GET PLANTING!

Winner of the firewood carrying competition
Winner of the firewood carrying competition
Fish anyone, the traditional way?
Fish anyone, the traditional way?
Bow and arrow competition - Jimmy LRFF
Bow and arrow competition - Jimmy LRFF's field man
Weaving event
Weaving event
Blowing the conch shell
Blowing the conch shell
The Lacayo clan
The Lacayo clan
Area of 900 trees planted September 8th
Area of 900 trees planted September 8th
Yours truly planting! :)
Yours truly planting! :)

Links:

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:

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:

 

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Organization Information

La Reserva Forest Foundation

Location: Tilaran, Guanacaste - Costa Rica
Website: http:/​/​www.lrff.org
Project Leader:
Matthew Lee
Project Leader
Tilaran, Guanacaste Costa Rica

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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