May is the beginning of planting season with the return of the rains.
Difficult growing areas on the reserve such as the ridge lines still need a few trees. We also do enhancement plantings where there are predominantly only pioneer species growing. Introducing some of the canopy species underneath the faster growing trees has proven to be the most successful method. We continue to recycle cardboard and use it around the seedlings as mulch. In this climate it disappears within 3 months and volunteers help to replace it until the trees are tall enough to be on their own among the competitive grasses and bracken ferns.
In the words of the great Richard St. Barbe Baker – “The tasks which confront us are sufficiently great in themselves to need the thoughtful and concerted action of every country on this globe. Erosion must be checked: oncoming deserts must be stopped. Air and water pollution must be stopped. Land must be made fertile again with the help of trees of mixed species, and the earth once again be clothed in a green mantle of trees. The balance of nature must be restored. Paradise must be regained.”
I do think we have regained much of the former paradise here. We hear it all the time from visitors about how beautiful this area has become. Another of our objectives is to go out into the community and encourage planting where ever it is possible. These areas may not become the great forests of the past but they can serve as wildlife corridors as well as contribute to the prevention of erosion.
Those of us who plant trees could be titled “Earth Healers”. A proud title that has much meaning these days if we want to take steps to mitigate climate change and preserve the earth for future generations.
Education for environmental stewardship
Clarice Esch, one of our former researchers returned with her professor Dr. Martin Stone from Western Kentucky University. They put on a workshop for local farmers to introduce a technique of tomato grafting in which the Costa Rican local varieties are grafted onto the rootstock of a Japanese variety. The Japanese variety has a hardy root system that is resistant to soil born diseases. This may enable farmers here to grow tomatoes using less chemicals.
Volunteers and Research
The GVI interns continue to monitor the bird point counts and camera trap photos.
Heath Steward from Australia has a strong interest in the rehabilitation of degraded land and is interested in the progress from pastureland to forest at Cloudbridge. He wants to further his studies in the area of land management and spending time at the reserve will enhance his ability to understand the effects of forest recovery.
Marko Capek from Croatia is an engineer with a passion for the environment. He visited Cloudbridge and was so enamoured by it that he added us to his travel blog. He did a beautiful job of capturing the essence of the forest and what we do here.