Trees, more trees, and friends who help to plant them: Optimism

So you may have noticed from the steady photo stream lately of me crouched on the ground in dorky hats: I’m doing a lot of tree planting.

I’m one of those people who is always a few minutes late, who meets deadlines the day-of (if that), whose calendar often looks like a tetrus game full up with back-to-back travel. I’m eternally, stubbornly optimistic. I know this interpretation provokes annoyance-to-rage reactions by the timely among you, and yes of course it’s fair to expect that by 41, one should learn her lessons and, say, account for the taxi time en route to meetings, or a day to do laundry between Eugene and Cameroon. But I swear that (almost) every time, I truly believe I’m going to get it right.  Even if I can see that the timing is overly ambitious, when I want something to work, it’s a real psychological challenge to admit that it won’t.  The clock and the calendar will bend to my will.

Of course this isn’t true. But guess what? Carlos shares this stubborn optimism. In fact, early this year when even I questioned our tree planting ambitions, he assured me it was totally doable. Since he’s the one who ends up doing the lion’s share of the work, I just chose to believe him.

The other thing is that Carlos ended up with 75 different species of trees in his little nursery, and I obviously needed at least one of each. And way more than one of most of them.

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75 species and they’re all so purty! Why say “i’ll just take one” when you can say “I’ll take 50 and let’s plant a parcel in Sector Caracara”…

So, long story short: now we are planting a whole lot of trees.

First came the pilons from Barca, 650 of them.

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Then the cocobolos and the cedros from Dos Brazos, 211 of them.

Then 520 little teak

Now we’ve moved on to the awesome diversity of trees that have been in Carlos’s nursery. While a few were from seeds that I’ve collected or friends have given me over the last year, most of these he collected and germinated himself, with a few more or less specific requests from me.

For example, I told him I wanted some Inga – commonly called guaba in Costa Rica. That’s a genus in the legume family, Fabaceae, most of whose members are nitrogen fixing and produce edible seed pods with appealing fruits for wildlife and people. We planted one species last year, Inga golfodulcensis, along a fenceline where the squirrel monkeys frequent. This year I wanted to plant several patches with Inga and poró in steeper areas of the finca, as small ‘islands’ to attract birds and speed up seed dispersal processes, a design found to be effective by researchers looking into cost effective forest restoration strategies in southern Costa Rica.

Carlos managed to round up no fewer than 10 species in the Inga genus. (Well, I contributed one, the most common one.) I think it’s half of the Inga species found on the Osa, and now the search is on for the rest of them….

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Carlos with a sample of the 10 Inga species

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Getting ready to plant our demonstration parcel…one example of each

Meanwhile, the trunk of my poor RAV4 has acquired fine new layers of red mud, mildew, and insect bits as I lug load after trunkload of trees up the hill.

 

And now: the race is on to get everything in the ground as soon as possible so that my trees have a few months of rainy season to get going and stand a chance against the fierce dry season. Which is why it’s so awesome to have friends excited to come help plant them! This past Saturday several of Osa’s most awesome ladies came out for a deliciously cool and rainy morning of planting 130 trees on an erosion-prone slope near the spring. (Sadly we took almost no photos in the light rain…thanks Julieta for these.)

I’m so grateful for this: to have friends who are stoked to be involved, who show up. And to have a project that allows me to be optimistic in a historical moment when that sentiment has become increasingly harder to summon.

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One of my favorite days ever

May 31st was one of my favorite days ever. That blithe hyperbole is such an American formulation, but I’m going to use it here with intention, because it is rare and superlative-worthy to have moments when your life feels like it coheres and comes full circle. Planting cedar and cocobolo with Dos Brazos community members and friends was all that.

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Yeah that’s how I felt about things all right! (also, aren’t those removable sleeve thingies awesome? $2 each at the local hardware store.)

First, because one year after Karen and I began the process of raising money for a native species nursery and garden with the community of Dos Brazos, we found ourselves parked at that very nursery, loading 200 baby trees into the trunk of the car before heading out to the finca to plant them, accompanied by the community nursery managers Kembly and Alexis and DB’s inimitable Peace Corps volunteer Jackie.  Yes! We made it happen! (Look at these trees only 3 months ago…. And at the nursery after Hurricane Otto…)

 

Second, because these 200 trees aren’t just any species. They are two of the best timber trees in the New World tropics: Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata) and cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa).  The former is closely related to mahogany, not a “true” cedar, although its scent properties have indeed made it a favorite lining for cigar boxes. Cocobolo, meanwhile, is a gorgeously hued, dense wood, coveted by artisans and furniture makers. Almost all species within the genus Dalbergia – found in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and usually called rosewood in English – share these qualities.

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my lovely little Dalbergia…someday I may sell you for lots of money to Chinese merchants

For my entire career with the Environmental Investigation Agency – six years in DC and now two years based down here – I’ve been working on exposés and policies and enforcement and governance measures to stem the global flow of illegal timber. Under my lead at EIA, we documented million-dollar trade streams of both Spanish cedar (from Peru) and rosewood (from Madagascar). These species are now listed by the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) after having been pillaged across most of their natural range. Between 2008 and 2015, the Chinese demand for period-replica red-brown wooden furniture became so voracious that hong mu beds made from Malagasy rosewood were selling in Beijing malls for over one million dollars.

I worked for years on the illegal logging and trade in Spanish cedar before I ever had a chance to hang out with a living Cedrela tree. Same with Dalbergia. So you can perhaps imagine the simple joy of kneeling out there in the red mud and hot sun with my friends to plant a few hundred on my own finca.

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Planting crew! Carlos, Karen, Kembly, Alexis, Jackie and me

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My planting pattern. Green squares are pilón, orange squares are cocobolo, and yellow are cedro. It’s important to keep the Cedrela well spaced, as this species is plagued by the shoot-boring caterpillar Hypsipila grandella . Only distance, interspersed vegetation and luck can keep it at bay. 

The 2017 tree planting extravaganza begins!

Carlos (El Presidente) wanted me to call this blog “Lost between the lines”, which would have been the perfect title during the first few days of our planting prep, when we ended up feeling more or less like I look in the picture below at the end of multiple sweaty afternoons spent blundering through thick tufts of dull-razor-edged pasture grass on uneven terrain, trying to arrive at the best way to create straight parallel rows of evenly spaced 3-meter holes.

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Good times! I haven’t used my 7th-grade geometry skills this much in years. I still don’t quite understand why my original design didn’t result in 3m spacing between lines, but I’m sure it has something to do with hypotenuses and acute angles.  I dreamt about grass grids for several nights running.

Carlos was even more perplexed by my vision than I was. I thought introducing an old-school compass to the scene would help matters, but soon realized that he is about as comfortable using compass bearings as I am using a machete. We can hack our way through it, but it’s not the most efficient way of doing business.

Finally we got a right angle between two transects of string set up across the parcel area. At that point I decided I just needed to step back and let Carlos roll with whatever system worked best for him. It’s already clear that he and I have different styles of learning, it’s logical that we had different approaches to line-making.

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hacking hopefully straight lines in the broiling sun, yeeha!

Well, we got the lines done. Then we marked them with stakes, at least the first few rows.

Then we got the holes dug. (And by “we” I mean Carlos, since after I dug 65 holes on the first planting day, my hands began to seize up and I had to submit to the reality that I have carpal tunnel and nerve problems and if I want to continue to subsidize my finca habit with consulting work, I need to be able to type. Hold a phone. Things like that.) Lotsa holes. About 800 or so holes …for now.

Then we planted! This first round of 2017 planting is a mixed plantation dominated by pilón (Hieronyma alchornoides), or zapatero, a native species that grows well in nutrient-poor, acidic, iron-heavy soils like mine and is often recommended for restoring degraded areas. I like pilón as a multipurpose tree – it’s got pretty foliage and its seeds are popular with wildlife, which will draw out the birds and mammals from my neighbor’s forest; it grows relatively quickly for a native hardwood, and its wood is lovely and durable, if slightly tough to work with. I like its market prospects down the line.

I bought the pilón seedlings from a commercial forestry company, BARCA, which has large teak holdings in southern Costa Rica and sells/exports its clones throughout the region. The fact that they’re working with pilón suggests that they also think it’s a promising native timber.

Commercial clones are sold real small, in these things called “jiffys” that are basically little bags of sphagnum moss enclosed in gauze. They retain water like nothing else, and are a fantastic environment for seeds to germinate or – in the case of clones – little stems to regenerate and develop roots. They’re far lighter and easier to handle than bagged seedlings, which makes transport and planting simpler (I brought home all 650 in the back of my little RAV4).

The downside is that they are small! Our little guys only had a few leaves on them. Which means a bit more maintenance in the field, and higher possibility for stochastic events like a grazing armadillo to cause mortality. We shall see how it pans out.

It took us 14 days to get all the pilón in the ground, lost-between-the-lines and all. I learned new contours of the finca as we mowed the grass to lay out the terrain. I used a hell of a lot of sunscreen. My arms and hands are nicked to hell, I have dirt deep under my nails and I haven’t felt this exhausted from physical labor in years. It’s such a good kind of tired.

Next up: teak and dozens of native species from both Dos Brazos and Carlos’s nurseries!

 

#Carlosforpresident

Within half an hour of arriving at the finca for the inaugural tree planting on May 18th, 2016, my friends had sussed out who was really in charge. Yeah, Andrea was rocking that red sequined baseball hat and seemed like she knew what she was doing as she demonstrated how to plant Árbol 0…but if you paid even half attention you realized she was just translating for Carlos. And once people spread out to start putting trees in the ground, Andrea was mainly running around like a headless (albeit somehow grinning) chicken while Carlos seemed to be patiently digging holes, directing traffic and showing 19 different people at once how to remove their seedling from the bag without exposing its tap root. The cries soon went up: “Carlos for President!”

In the precisely one year since I first convinced him to work with me, it’s become clear that hiring Carlos was the best decision I’ve made since buying the Finca in the first place.

First, he’s a born naturalist. He’s curious and observant as hell. Carlos’s formal education ended before high school and his spelling reflects it. But he learned early from his father, an indigenous person of the southern Talamanca (the mountains between Panama and Costa Rica), how to be in the forest. He looks closely and remembers well. He sees signs of animals that I would never in a million years perceive – tiny grass tunnels, broken twigs, fading footprints, feather fluff, directional mud splatters. After years spent tracking animals to their favored feeding sites, he has a mental list of dozens of species we should plant whose seeds and fruits will attract tepezquintles (pacas), monkeys or songbirds back into the finca.

The finca literally comes more alive for me when we walk around together.  There are birds’ nests in every bush, that tree is flowering for the first time, oh be careful of that rash-giving vejuco del fuego vine! (too late.) It’s like a private PBS en Español natural history special every time, as he explains which butterfly reproduces on the leaves of what tree, and how to tell whether it was an armadillo or skunk that uprooted your nephew’s dedicated seedling for the third time in a week…. At least once he’s described to me a behavioral observation that is, as far as I’ve investigated, undocumented by ornithologists (scarlet-rumped caciques using pheromones to make wasps temporarily flee their nest and leave the larvae unprotected).

Where I’m all book brain, Carlos is pure experience.  We see a bird: I’m still reaching for my dog-eared guidebook while he tosses out the local name and tells me the best method for catching it with sticky tree sap and twine. I’d be lost without my local-to-scientific-name list of Costa Rican tree species (yay internet!) that allows us a more common language. Last month we discussed how best to prevent erosion on my steep, newly levelled internal road and stabilize the big landslide areas from last November. His top suggestions: tall poró stakes, more sotacaballo trees and transplants of a low, invasive legume called manicillo. That afternoon I read the most relevant articles I could scrape up on the topic and their top suggestions were, basically: poró stakes, sotacaballo and manicillo.   (I will say, thank god, my fancy research skills dredge up something new and worth bringing to the table just often enough that he doesn’t consider me redundant…)

Not only is he a good overall naturalist, but Carlos is particularly obsessed with seeds and trees. I mean to the point where he talks your head off until everyone just nods ‘uh-huh’ and smiles. It’s not just me – his wife Nuria and daughters do that too! Especially, they tell me, when they’re on the back of his motorbike and really would prefer he looked at the road, not the ripening manglillo seed pods. Recently I asked him what kind of books he liked to read, other than the Bible, and he said “books about trees”.

I know, right? I give myself credit for picking up on this obsession during a December 2015 visit to the lovely ecotourism project that his family briefly offered in the Osa village of Rancho Quemado. The tour objective was to show us how to pan for gold, but while other guests ate Nuria’s lunch spread, he showed me around the garden where he had hundreds of seedlings seemingly haphazardly lying around, describing each species with the urgency of someone who needs to get a secret off his chest. I remembered that chat four months later when I realized I desperately needed some trees to plant. Oh and someone to help me plant them!

This roving curiosity about the natural world translates really well into restoration. His front yard is an ad hoc experimental nursery of over 30 species that he’s germinated from seed or collected as sprouts. Some are collected opportunistically, others from patient observation of when attractive, or useful, or unusual species begin to flower and then bear fruits and seeds. He tries different techniques to germinate, uses different substrates, tests whether things grow better from seed or as transplanted sprout…   Seedlings are growing in tires, buckets, in the shade of his plantains. I’ve invested only a tiny fraction of what Dos Brazos has received into his nursery, but will get 10x the species diversity (this year, anyways… I’m still hopeful DB steps it up for 2018).

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The impressively diverse nursery that Carlos has created with minimal investment. Last year I bought hundreds of his trees, and this year I’ll do the same.

I’m pretty sure Carlos enjoys our project so much because he actually gets to apply his brain to it. Possessing a restlessly intelligent mind in the vacuum of educational opportunity that is rural southern Costa Rica has translated, for him, into a churning sequence of short-term jobs either unsatisfying, impermanent or uncomfortably informal. He’s now 44, and has worked at least some time farming cocoa, harvesting bananas, harvesting oil palm, picking coffee, illegal logging, industrial-scale melina plantation logging, driving unregistered taxis, driving trucks, operating heavy machinery, illegal gold mining, illegal hunting, giving ecotourism tours, commercial fishing, grass-cutting, landscaping and now restoration and nursery management.

I know these things because Carlos also excels at talking, fast and furiously and distracted at regular intervals by passing birds or manglillo seed pods such that I have to beg him to refocus on the topic at hand in order to get a decision made. He and I have something of the same impatience for mundane life details (see: our combined record on cell phone breakage).

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Carlos’s current cell phone.

In the end, none of this would matter if I couldn’t trust him. I’ve made some pretty bad hires in my days (sorry, EIA) of folks who seemed perfect on paper. But I think I got this one right. I knew from the start that I couldn’t afford to hire him full time, for now, so my hope was that he become committed, invested, and proud of something that felt like a joint project. I try to pay well and I ask for his opinions. We sit over coffee and make plans. I fronted the money for a new motorbike to remove transport obstacles. I support his nursery efforts, connect him to other land owners who need trees. And in return, I can trust that when I need to leave early, and the bulldozer operator repairing my road offers to charge the gringa an extra hour and split the difference with him, Carlos will turn the offer down and tell me about it later. (That was last month.)

I just really enjoy working with the guy, even when the sun has melted my brain and his running tree phenology patter might as well be in Sumerian.  Things here at Las Tijeretas have advanced so much more rapidly and smoothly than they would have in any scenario that did not involve Carlos being President of the Finca. Our constitution is still being negotiated but no term limits have yet been established.

(I still have better hats though.)

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I bought that beautiful topper at a Mennonite store in Belize 🙂 . I love C’s expression here, as I force him to pose with “Flat Stanley” for a friend’s kid’s pen pal initiative. Thank you for putting up with my ridiculousness, Carlos!

Making baby trees!

In May of last year, when community members from Dos Brazos decided to work with Karen (Osa Birds) and me to establish a native species nursery and garden, none of us really knew what we were doing.  Despite the fact that during the year I worked at Osa Conservation I oversaw programs that were collecting and germinating thousands of trees from over 50 species, I never actually DID any of it myself. I wrote pretty proposals and watched Max give our donors nursery tours. I helped students plant trees and thought I understood things way more than I did.

Much like during the two years I worked for CATIE-FINNFOR2, a project whose mission was basically to help small farmers manage, harvest and sell trees. I designed some real neat indicators for that M&E matrix, but was left feeling like I’d still be lost if confronted with a real live plantation.

So, like most things related to my finca, the vivero (nursery) in Dos Brazos is partly an experiment in “doing it myself”. Ourselves. We’ve all been learning as we go, with the help of a few good books (here & here), advice and training from Osa Conservation staff, the wisdom of experience from my assistant Carlos, and lots of mistakes. (That latter, I was taught decades ago in my Harvard environment seminars, we call “adaptive management”….)

And now: we’ve got thousands of baby trees! It’s very exciting. Here’s a brief recap in photos.

We hatched plans back in April 2016 and began to raise funds for a small project

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hatching plans with Ermer, Seidi and Neftali, leaders in Dos Brazos’ community association (2nd, 4th and last from left), Karen of Osa Birds (3rd), and botanist Reynaldo Aguilar (5th)

My donors – YOU ALL, I have no pretense that strangers read this blog – have been amazingly generous, and there’s a lovingly planted and labelled tree in each of your names (or your kids’ names) growing happily in Sector Astronium on Finca Las Tijeretas. Come see it when you can.

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My goddaughter Maisy gets a nene so she can one day make jewelry with its awesome red-and-black seeds

Nursery construction got underway in October 2016, in what seemed to be the ideal open, flat space behind the ACODOBRARTI community tourism association offices.

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building Germinator 1.0

We held a workshop with Max Villalobos of Osa Conservation to improve planning and organization.

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Talking with Max about how to locate and design a nursery

We began collecting the first seeds and putting our first plants in bolsas (bags).

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Then…disaster struck, as rains on the outer edge of Hurricane Otto deluged the Osa for weeks. The slope behind ACODOBRARTI offices simply let loose, covering the nursery site in several meters of red mud and leaving an altered landscape.

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AFTER the flood: our nursery site 😦

We felt a bit dispirited. But not vanquished. Fundraising for the rebuild commenced. See: my amazing friends.

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That is some impressive damage!

In January, I got serious with the community group: either you get seeds germinating by February, or you don’t have a project because we won’t have anything big enough to plant in 2017. See, tree planting in Osa begins in May, as soon as the rainy season begins, and it ends around August. If we plant later, trees don’t have enough time to take root and thrive before summer hits again in December.  (I made that mistake this year, and don’t intend to repeat it.) Dos Brazos rose to the challenge.  The group identified a new nursery site and began to build.

Community members also began collecting seeds from forest trees. For a few species, I ordered seeds from CATIE’s Forest Seed Bank and the Hojancha Cantonal Agricultural Center (CACH) delivered to Puerto Jimenez. (I did this partly because I wanted high quality genetic material for endangered timber trees such as cocobolo, and partly because I like the idea of using seeds from institutions that I worked with…)

This here is The Germinator, where seeds begin their long journey to becoming trees. Embedded in sterilized, constantly moist river sand under hot greenhouse conditions, most species sprout rapidly.

There is nothing more exciting than seeing the first seeds poke out of the sand and realize that, yes, YOU CAN MAKE BABY TREES!

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I got this photo in Whatsapp in mid-February. We were all thrilled!

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Healthy seeds emerge quite rapidly in a well-build and maintained germinator

As I said – we are learning lessons. Some seeds sprout quite exuberantly! It probably wasn’t necessary to spread all 4000+ seeds of guachipelin (Diphysia americana) into 4 square feet.

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The carpet of guachipelin seedlings after a few weeks…very pretty, but no way in hell DB can sell that many trees. It feels like enough for fencelines halfway to San José!

Likewise, the minimum 100 grams order of Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata) seed contained approximately 5000 seeds. It looks like ALL of them germinated.

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I’m excited to plant Spanish cedar, which is a vulnerable species whose illegal logging I spent years documenting in Perú. But my finca can’t fit thousands!

Other species didn’t do so well. I am keen to plant roble de sabana (Tabebuia rosea) along my fences, but only a single sprout broke the sandy surface. Could be a problem of the seed or who knows. Luckily they’re blooming all over the peninsula now, so I’m hoping Dos Brazos takes the initiative to collect the seeds.

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why so forlorn, Tabebuia rosea?

Two members of the community group are being paid a standard local wage to oversee nursery operations for now. Meet Alexis and Kembly. They’re awesome.

As the seeds – whether from my order or collected from the surrounding landscape – germinate and begin to grow, the work is now to transplant them from germinator to individual bolsa. This is a meditative task that has its technique. Exposing their tiny roots carelessly is bad, as is overpacking the soil around them. I feel it’s important to undertake transplanting with love.

And there we are: well over a thousand trees are now bagged and beginning to grow their root systems with twice-daily watering and moderated sunshine. Monitoring for munching insects, fungal infections or droopy, dying seedlings is a constant effort.

The positive energy in our little Dos Brazos group grows in parallel with the trees. The positive feedback cycle of watching seeds become sprouts become seedlings is empowering in such a primal way. I feel it too. I can’t wait to close the loop come June by planting these trees in the Finca.

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Karen, Alexis, Andrea and Kembly with the miniature forest of guachipelin behind us

And I dearly hope that Dos Brazos is able to build on this year’s beginnings to create a stable business model for next year’s vivero.  They must learn not only to make babies but to market them to an Osa clientele. Anyone need a few thousand guachipelins? Be in touch!

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A Deluge in Dos Brazos

Costa Rica was hit by its first hurricane in recorded history (165 years) this past Thanksgiving Thursday. Otto – whose name, shared with the country’s noxious pseudo-Libertarian politician Otto Guevara, generated a rousing bout of internet memes before everyone got distracted by the business of survival – was a late season unwelcome surprise. He was upgraded from Tropical Storm not long before touching land and violently raking the border with southern Nicaragua, leaving floods, landslides and at least 10 people dead.

Otto was preceded and followed by heavy rains all throughout the region – up here in Belize, where I waited the storm out on a work trip, it’s been drenched – and as is often the case with hurricanes, it was the simple quantity of water that ended up causing most of the damage. Overflowing rivers swept peoples’ homes and belongings away, over-saturated slopes collapsed in muddy swaths of destruction.

In Osa the damage was mostly done in advance: in the week prior to Otto’s arrival, the Peninsula experienced the worst rain in recent memory. I have heard no reports of deaths, thankfully, but infrastructure and people’s livelihoods will be affected for a long time. And one of the villages to suffer the most was Dos Brazos del Rio Tigre, where as you know I’ve been working with the community association and Osa Birds to establish a native species nursery and garden.

Just as we were making progress! In the last few months, Karen and ACODOBRARTI had drawn up a simple budget and contract to allow all your generous donations to Osa Birds be put to use with a modicum of transparency and accountability. The community obtained permission to use what seemed like an ideal space behind their association’s office for a spacious nursery and beautiful germinator. They bought bamboo posts and had finished framing up both buildings as of just last week. We held an initial workshop to talk about species and workplans. We had even started to bag the first seedlings. Then came the deluge.

The community is so named because it’s nestled between two branches (arms) of the Tigre river…so you can imagine what that looked like after three days of incessant downpour in the headwater hills above. Photos and videos started to trickle down my Whatsapp feed: houses flooded; bridges underwater; main entrance road collapsed; potable water out. And then the news that was only one more of many minor tragedies, but one that was partly mine: our fledgling nursery was gone. All of it – the constructions, the materials, the first seedlings. The river had risen more than anyone had imagined possible and simply swept it all away.

(As for my finca: let’s just say there’s less grass to worry about now. Carlos reports that one of the steep slopes collapsed and funneled literally tons of organic matter and topsoil through my waterfallito, a cascading notch that drains into the Rio Barrigones. The landscape has been slightly rearranged, but it spared the areas where this year’s restoration efforts were focused.)

I’ve been watching and listening from afar, helpless and anxious first in San Jose and then western Belize. But it’s been beautiful to see the solidarity in Costa Rica. Literally every Tico I know is pitching in somehow to help the communities left in ruins by Otto, and down in Osa it seems like every other person is member of some Emergency Committee, helping to organize evacuations or get supplies for residents trapped by bulging rivers and broken bridges. So much compassion and spirit.

In Dos Brazos, community members and friends pooled enough money within 24 hours to pay for a bulldozer to repair the road that had washed out and left them isolated. There was no waiting for any agency to dig them out. But so much more will need to be done.

The community nursery, of course, is just one small part of the losses. I estimate that we’re out at least $1000 in materials and labor to get this project back on its feet in time for 2017 planting season. I’m committed to putting up at least $500 of this and am hoping I can raise matching funds to support rebuilding the nursery and repairing damage to the local association’s office. These funds will primarily support wages for community residents and some building materials.

The horizon has turned ominous since 11/9, and I know that for most of the folks reading, this year end’s donations will be rightly focused on expanding support to organizations that must now lead the resistance to Trump and the cynical minions riding his narcissistic coattails into power: defending basic civil rights, reversing voter suppression policies, fighting the ruinous logic of climate change denial, etc.  I don’t want to divert a penny from that giving. Really. But if, when all that’s done, you find yourself inspired by the hopeful work of Dos Brazos, Osa Birds, Carlos and me on Finca Las Tijeretas (I have a name for the finca now!) and can support in some small way, here’s the link. (Tax deductible.) There will be a tree in your name, and great gratitude in my heart.

20160703_101852 for Sahele