Monday, 24 August 2009

Planting trees again

We're back at the reforestation project. This will probably be the last planting time this year - next month begins the real rainy season on the pacific coast and it will be too much for the small trees we're planting. So we're finishing up this phase with three days planting around two natural springs.

Today we worked with a mix of forest and fruit trees. The fruit trees are planted along paths down to the main spring and close by the access road. It's really a beautiful piece of land, a hillside looking back towards mountains or out over the Gulf of Nicoya with the Pacific beyond. We're working with a good crew of Nicaraguans, all from the northern zone of Nicaragua. Nicas work in Costa Rica like Mexicans work in California - they do the work the nationals don't want to do. Working here they earn 3 - 5 times as much as they do at home, so they come for the jobs and send money home. I enjoy working with them, they are bright and motivated and easy going at the same time. I expect they like working with us too, we're not so 'normal' for gringos around here, but work just as much as they do, in other words we get our hands dirty and we clearly enjoy it. So the atmosphere is good with whistling or singing and laughing, and the trees get planted and they're happier for being placed by happy workers in beautiful spots.

We're planting for birds and animals too so our trees are chosen for their fruits or habitat potential. The land is hilly with gullies and we're trying to create a good mix of native trees, though there are some non natives thrown in for special reasons: mango, ylang-ylang, neem.

Today we planted Cenizaro, Cipres, Ron-ron, Cedro Amargo, Espavel, Guachipelin, Guanacaste, Aceituna, Carao. For fruit we planted Cas, Caimito, Carambola, Biriba, Agua de Manzana, Calamondin and Mango. It was fun.

There's something special about planting a tree, and something even more delightful about planting a forest. Standing at the edge of a slope looking down with a bag of 10 to 14 trees (the forest trees are small when we plant them) and a clear expanse of sky above and green below, one has to imagine how the land will look in 5, 10, 15, 30 years time. Where to put the smaller cipres, or the fine leafy ron ron or the huge and majestic guanacaste. How will the monkeys come from the forests on the mountain to this part by the spring, what trees will make the best canopy for their path? How will the macaws pass from this already towering espavel to a new cluster of almendros? It's all interesting and joyful work.

the majestic Guanacaste

The process is simple: we lay out each tree, mark it, plant it, stake it and mulch it. Simple, repetitive, logical work. Beautiful. We checked the trees we planted in June and they look great and happy. I would be too planted here: sun, cool mists, nice showers, peace and quiet and fine company (and a great view - d'you think this makes a difference to a tree?).


  1. Wow, Ancel... how exciting! What a great project! The guanacaste really does look majestic. And yes, if you're going to be rooted in one spot for hundreds of years, I would definitely think the view makes a big difference. If they can appreciate being spoken and sung to, they would definitely like a view too, don't you think?

  2. I remember planting trees as a child. I lived in a forest and a lot of it was getting wiped out by beetles. So my mother bought 100 little saplings about 4" tall and we planted them all. I don't remember any singing however. As kids we grumbled a lot. I think as adults we have a better perspective to the work.

  3. Sunita,
    I agree. Trees always seem so calm and peaceful, and somehow even more so with a free and open view all around them. There's something so soothing about a view with a solitary tree.

  4. Daphne,
    how lovely to live in a forest as a child. I'm sure at the time it hfelt like it had its drawbacks, but what a solid and deep foundation it give you as an adult. Lucky.


thanks for sharing!