Pacuare River reforestation

The RAFA – VERTO – CATIE forest is growing and thriving!

Thanks to the loving care of our RAFA team – big shout-out to Diego, Walter, and Juancho – and some good rain in the past months, the 1,000 trees we planted last November are shooting up fast. Some are close to 6 feet tall (2 meters) already!

We are proud to report back to the 142 students and faculty of Verto Education, officials with CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), and our RAFA team of 16 volunteer leaders that we see a 90% success rate with the trees – excellent results!

“It is one of the best reforestations I’ve seen,” reports ICE Forestry Engineer Mario Castillo Chavez during a site inspection we conducted on May 3.

The Nov. 11, 2022, reforestation project was made possible by the U.S. organization Verto Education, which offers study abroad programs to first-year university students. CATIE, where the students are based in Turrialba, donated 700 trees and assisted with event transportation. The Costa Rican electrical company ICE (its Spanish acronym) contributed 250 trees as part of its program to restore areas within biological corridors. The remaining 50 saplings came from RAFA’s nursery.

The new forest on 3.7 acres (1.5 hectares) of former pastureland at Terciopelo Farm will help restore forest connectivity in the Barbilla-Destierro Biological Subcorridor – Jaguar Route in the Pacuare River Basin. The 222-acre (90-hectare) farm lies between the San Martin and Terciopelo tributaries to the Pacuare River. It is part of the Rios Tropicales Rainforest Reserve that Rafael Gallo began over three decades ago. Over 30 acres (12 hectares) have already been reforested, tying in with old-growth already standing. The trees planted in November also helped to offset the carbon footprint of the Verto students’ travel to Costa Rica.

Eleven native forest species were planted, including Mountain Almond trees. This key species is planted in all RAFA reforestations to restore habitat for Great Green Macaws, IUCN Red Listed as Critically Endangered. Since October 2021, we’ve planted 431 Mountain Almond trees, which the Macaws rely on for feeding and nesting.
We thank all who helped us reforest the Pacuare River Basin: the Barbilla-Destierro Biological Subcorridor Committee, the Costa Rican National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), JACANA youth organization, Movimiento Pro Rios Costa Rica, Mariposas del Pacuare, the Cairo community water board, Pacuare Outdoor Center, ICE, and Emergency Care Costa Rica.

We’ll keep everyone updated as the forest continues to grow!

RAFA team at Pacuare reforestation site
The RAFA team with ICE Forestry Engineer Mario Castillo (far right) and SINAC official Eyder Fonseca (2nd to right) inspecting the RAFA-Verto-CATIE forest.

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