Mount Uran covered in cloud. A view from the researcher’s casita.
Tree Planting in a Recovering Cloudforest:
It’s a Saturday morning and we are packing small seedlings into our backpacks and gathering tools for the trek up the mountain. Even though this is our day off from normal reserve activities Tom and I are heading out to plant trees, a pursuit we like to do even in our leisure time. There is something almost sacred and energizing about tree planting; especially planting in the rainforests which ultimately effect weather patterns, carbon dioxide levels, and water quality worldwide. It’s a good feeling to know we are contributing in some way from our little space on earth.
We trudge up the steep mountain trail with the extra weight of root balls and tools. I stop to shift the weight and can’t help but wonder what else we could be doing on a weekend morning. I look up at the view – the waterfall down below in the valley and the blanket of green vegetation across the mountains. Nothing else comes to mind. This is perfect.
We drop down off of the main trail to the river valley below. We have already planted many trees in this area that are at various stages of growth. Now it is just a matter of infilling with some more fruiting varieties to attract wildlife. These particular trees are the Nectandra sp. which we are planting to entice more birds especially the quetzal to the area.
Tom uses his machete to clear invasive grasses and the persistent bracken ferns from each planting site. I dig the holes and place each little seedling in its new home. They look so small and vulnerable. We will need to return many times to clear the invading vegetation from around these newly planted inhabitants of our forest. After every tree is planted I gently firm the soil down to provide stability and remove any air pockets around the root ball. We mark the site with a tall stake and flagging tape. Hopefully this will be enough to catch the attention of anyone who will be checking on them in the future for maintenance purposes until they become established enough to be on their own.
The flitting by of a glass winged butterfly and the constant chorus from a mixed flock of birds reminds me that our efforts are paying off. The return of wildlife is a clear indicator of early success from our yearly tree planting efforts. Scattered about through the new forest giant stumps sit like oversized gravestones, all that remains on this slope from the original primary forest. It will be a long time before these little seedlings mature and become a part of that kind of ecosystem again.
Tom surveying the tree planting
Nectandra sp. in its new home.
Many thanks to Ricardo Lujan and Betsy Barcus for donating their time and funds for the purchase of these Nectandra sp. seedlings for reforestation at Cloudbridge.
Simon, Klaus, and Kevin from Germany have been busy with construction of new benches, building other misc. items, and also planting and maintenance of trees.
New bench installed at Pacifica Waterfall.
The students of York University – Canada, came up to Cloudbridge for a hike and visit. They then invited Tom and Linda to spend a day with them at the York Reserve «Los Nubes» near Santa Elena.
Tree trunk bridge at Los Nubes Reserve near Santa Elena
No these are not spines on a branch….they are insects, Umbonia treehoppers