Trees are our best allies. They absorb carbon emissions, regulate Earth’s temperatures, protect our water, and more. But they can only do their incredible work when we do ours properly. Tree-planting, which takes place in the short-term, does not do the holistic job of tree-growing, which is a long-term commitment that starts with thoughtful analysis well before a tree is planted and lasts indefinitely, even after a solid forest is standing. It involves selecting the right species for a particular location, caring for saplings during their vulnerable infancy, all the while engaging ongoing community support and investment to ensure the forest will not be cut down twenty years down the road.
Finca Cántaros has initiated several “tree-growing” projects that not only aim to provide ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, protect water and enhance biodiversity, but also serve as educational and research spaces for the community, including:
The Children’s Forest of Coto Brus is a collaborative environmental education and forest restoration project between Finca Cántaros Environmental Association and multiple community partners including the San Vito Bird Club, Las Cruces Biological Station and Osa Conservation. It aims to expand the reach of the existing forest of Finca Cántaros, a reforestation project started by Gail Hull in 1994 when she bought the property, and supporting the regional AmistOsa Biological Corridor efforts. The goal of this long-term “tree-growing” as opposed to short-term “tree-planting” project is to engage the participants in learning about and connecting to their forest over the years to come.
To learn more about some of the species planted in the Children’s Forest, please check out these excellent visual guides (in Spanish) created by our partner organization, The Morton Arboretum.
Our “Mujeres Comprometidas con la Tierra” (Women Committed to the Earth) program aims to create spaces for women to connect, learn about their important role in conservation, and engage in hands-on stewardship activities such as forest restoration. It is critical to create spaces for women to develop professional skills like leadership as well self-efficacy, which in turn build self-esteem. Such tools and confidence can help facilitate the flow of all their qualities and commitment (not only to conservation but to other causes), along with the capacity to confront and overcome barriers.
It is our aim to get to know the women in the community and understand their goals, strengths, challenges and lived experiences, in order to collaboratively develop the program activities and curriculum with them. We want to encourage more women to ask themselves: who are my female environmental heroes, both here in Costa Rica and beyond? And we want them to see environmental heroes in themselves.
To participate in the program, please visit our Get Involved page.
Our “Lideresas por la Naturaleza” (Women Leaders for Nature) program evolved out of the Women Committed to the Earth program, and aims to offer women in the community an opportunity to dive even deeper into themes of biodiversity and conservation, through the lens of forest restoration and birds.
Finca Cántaros is collaborating with the Global Experiment Network (GEN) of the Crowther Lab of the Swiss university ETH Zürich (this institution leads programs and research focused on habitat restoration on a global scale). The project is divided into two experiments: one is called the Functional Diversity Experiment, through which 1440 trees were planted, and the other is called Natural Regeneration versus Assisted Restoration, through which 312 trees were planted. It is worth underscoring that all of the trees planted are native to the region. In both experiments, the goal is to gather new information to help promote the success of existing and future ecological restoration projects. Above all, the experiments seek ways to make restoration more efficient, and to move away from just simply planting trees as the “go to” for restoration efforts. Further, we have the opportunity to use an amazing technology kit provided by the online restoration platform “Restor” thanks to funding from Google, and with the drone, applications that allow us to analyze different aspects of the forest, as well as other types of advancing technology that support data collection, we will be able to monitor these experiments in new and innovative ways.
Finca Cántaros has partnered with Osa Conservation to support forest restoration in the AmistOsa Biological Corridor by forming part of their tree nursery network. The Osa Conservation-Finca Cántaros tree nursery is a win-win for both organizations. Finca Cántaros supports Osa Conservation in its mission to propagate thousands of native tree species to be planted out in restoration projects across the corridor by providing the space for the tree nursery and covering a percentage of maintenance costs. It is also an excellent environmental education space, as Osa Conservation staff create wonderful hands-on learning experiences for participants in the Finca Cántaros environmental education programs as well as volunteers working with both of our organizations.
Finca Cántaros has been awarded a Level I Accreditation by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum, for achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens. The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity, and professionalism. Finca Cántaros is also now recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.