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Restoration of A Tropical Rain Forest Ecosystem Successful On


									Restoration of A Tropical Rain
Forest Ecosystem Successful On
ScienceDaily (Apr. 30, 2008) — Half a century
after most of Costa Rica's rain forests were cut
down, researchers from the Boyce Thompson
Institute for Plant Sciences (BTI) on the Cornell
campus are attempting what many thought was
impossible -- restoring a tropical rain forest
When the researchers planted worn-out cattle
pastures in Costa Rica with a sampling of local trees in the early 1990s, native species of
plants began to move in and flourish, raising the hope that destroyed rain forests could
one day be replaced.

Ten years after the tree plantings, Cornell graduate student Jackeline Salazar counted the
species of plants that took up residence in the shade of the new planted areas. She found
remarkably high numbers of species -- more than 100 in each plot. And many of the new
arrivals were also to be found in nearby remnants of the original forests.

"By restoring forests we hope not only to be improving the native forests, but we are
helping to control erosion and helping the quality of life of the local people," said Carl
Leopold, the William H. Crocker Scientist Emeritus at BTI. He pointed out that drinking
water becomes more readily available when forests thrive because tree roots act as a sort
of sponge, favoring rainwater seepage and preventing water running off hills and draining

Please view more details about this project at:

The Cloudbridge Project
Goal 1. Preservation. The principals, Ian and
Genevieve Giddy, identified a 60-hectare cattle
farm that borders the Chirripó National Park at the
northern end of the Talamanca mountain range in
southern Costa Rica. In June 2002 they completed
acquisition of this property, and subsequently the
reserve was extended to Cloudbridge North and
Gavilan and Catedral Verde and Los Quetzales and
El Jilguero Cloudbridge now includes about 700
acres. Currently the team are working to inscribe
the project into the government preservation and forestation programs. The property
includes a significant portion of riparian and high-altitude mountainside virgin forest.
Cattle grazing and its consequent denuding and erosive effects has been halted. In parts
of the reserve, natural regrowth is taking place. Easements and other legal means will be
employed to protect the forest in perpetuum.

Goal 2. Reforestation. With the assistance of experts in Costa Rica, the local
community, and volunteers from abroad, a program of careful multispecies tree planting
has begun. This is being done in such a way as to extend and preserve the diversity of the
surrounding virgin forests. The efforts include:

      Stage 1. Planting saplings. We began by planting about 4200 trees in 2002.
       Subsequent plantings have brought the number to over 10,000.
      Stage 2. Ongoing maintenance to help the trees survive.
      Stage 3. Parallel with the diversity project, a small portion of the reserve has been
       set aside for a demonstration project of sustainable forestry.
      Stage 4. To undertand what we are doing and to help others, we label, measure
       and monitor the trees' progress.

As far as possible, we are attempting to restore the mix of trees and flora that is native to
the surrounding area. With the assistance of specialists, we have compiled a list of trees
and other flora from which selected species have been chosen for the reforestation
project. Those who have helped us include Barry Hammel of INBio, David Knowles,
Arno Finkeldy, Dick Andrus and Carl Leopold of the Tropical Forestry Initiative, Gravin
Villegas of CATIE and the Chirripó National Park office, and local forestry experts
Freddy Rojas and Ken Gallatin. Tim Woodruff of Land Assurance facilitated the initial
property acquisition, and Jennifer Smith supervised the first round of tree planting. You
                  can read a fuller account of the planting process.

                 Goal 3. Research. From its beginnings as a reforestation project,
                 Cloudbridge has evolved into an ongoing series of studies of the cloud
                 forest. Some work is repeated year after year, to gauge the progress of
                 the forest's recovery -- examples include the biomonitoring, plantation
                 and moss recovery studies. Others focus on a particular aspect of the
                 flora or fauna -- one study, for example, sought to measure the diversity
and density of different tree species in the primary forest.

Recreational Access. A further objective is to allow people to see the progress of the
plantation and to hike the Reserve's steep slopes and enjoy the views of the valleys and
waterfalls. Hiking trails have been laid out and are gradually being improved (your help
with this would be welcome). You can view a map of the reserve with a description of the
trails, or an overview of some of the trails. More adventurous hikers have access to the
largely unexplored wilderness of Cloudbridge North .

Please view more details about this project at:
The Firestone Center for Restoration Ecology at Pitzer
was established in March 2005 through
international ecologist Diane Firestone’s
generous gift of her stunningly beautiful
farm, Finca La Isla del Cielo, near the town
of Dominical, Costa Rica. Ms. Firestone
dedicated over a decade of effort to bring the
farm, once an overused and depleted cattle
ranch, to its current state of natural
restoration. She believes that, under Pitzer
College’s stewardship, her vision for the
farm will be realized and will have a wider
educational impact on a broader audience. An ecological easement is being recorded to
preserve the existing biodiversity of the property and limit non-educational development
in the future.

The Firestone Center is home to programs in Pitzer’s
science, language, and international studies curricula,
and provides opportunities for faculty research and
student engagement in an intercultural context. The
program features local collaborative resource
management, especially of its own stand of harvestable
timber bamboo, a focus on human and tropical ecology,
the study of reforestation and sustainable
agriculture/permaculture practices, and community-
based education including intensive language and
culture studies. Carol Brandt, Vice President for
International Programs and External Studies,
coordinates the work of the faculty who have been
responsible for the program’s initial development,
including Ethel Jorge for the Spanish language and
culture components, Environmental Studies professors
Paul Faulstich and Melinda Herold-Menzies for the
human ecology components, and Joint Science
Department members Donald McFarlane and Cheryl Baduini for the tropical ecology
components. Costa Rican native Isabella Arguello is the on-site program director, and the
first student team began working there during Summer 2005. The first full contingent of
students were at the Center during the Fall 2005 semester.

Please view more details about this project at:
“La restauración ecologista del bosque tropical. Una alternativa de reforestación
ambientalmente sana y socialmente justa y participativa”
Check out this great story about people from a little Costa Rican community - a family
and other Ticos - who realize the importance of pre-deforested natural systems and the
benifits they receive from such systems, work together to restore a deforested, industrial
monoculture tree farm area into healthy, productive forests. This outlines how
collabarative efforts of people and organizations is possible and can lead to the
restoration of deforested areas, as well as how this can benifit all the stakeholders

The Association of Ecologist Communities La Ceiba – Friends of the Earth Costa Rica
(Asociación Comunidades Ecologistas La Ceiba- Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica -
COECOCEIBA- AT), which includes members from various social sectors (academics,
professionals, ecologists and peasants), work to develop new models of forest cover
restoration. The models they develop are models that are sounder in environmental terms
and more participative and fair in social terms. COECOCEIBA- Amigos De La Tierra,
Costa Rica, e-mail:,

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