Realizing the Value of Forests
We aim to protect trees and plant seeds to sustain the environmental, economic and social services warranted by forests. Your generous support of La Reserva Forest Foundation is helping us store planet-warming carbon dioxide, increase biodiversity, regulate climate, runoff, and other natural processes, and safeguard cultural heritage sites.
Store Planet-Warming Carbon Dioxide
Forests cover over 4 billion hectares of the Earth’s land area, less than the 6 billion hectares of forest that existed before the Industrial Revolution (FAO 2012, p. 21). Forest area loss, estimated to be 5.2 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2010 (FAO 2012, p. 28), decreases the sequestration rate of atmospheric carbon, which has been released in unprecedented quantities by humans during the last three centuries (Paquette and Messier 2010). Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas that increases the potency of the greenhouse effect, a process that occurs when thermal radiation from Earth’s surface is absorbed by atmospheric gases and maintained in the atmosphere instead of being lost as heat to space (Claussen et al. 2001, p. 373). Wood provides net storage, as distinct from net emissions, of CO2 and thus has a negative association with global warming. In the last 20 years alone, the world’s forests have sinked nearly 30% of the global annual CO2 emissions, about the same sinking capacity as all the oceans (Bellassen and Luyssaert 2014).
Costa Rica is the size of West Virginia, but contains over 5% of the Earth’s biodiversity (Hickman 2007). Today, vast ribbons of the country’s tropical ecosystems have been destroyed or are on the verge of permanent collapse. This environment contains a great diversity of undiscovered organisms (World Animal Foundation 2000) and a significant percentage of carbon sequestered from the atmosphere; however, unsustainable agricultural practices have scarred these precious landscapes with reckless deforestation and aberrant biodiversity loss during the 1980s (FAO 2012, p. 34). La Reserva Forest Foundation is committed to restoring these vulnerable ecosystems and reviving habitats in the wild woods of northern Costa Rica.
Regulate climate, runoff, and other natural processes
Forests offer many regulating services to the natural environment. In addition to providing valuable human commodities (e.g., paper goods, timber, and fuel), trees have highly complex and fibrous root architecture (West et al. 1999) that extends vertically and laterally deep into the soil strata. These root systems support and anchor plants in their substrate, but also absorb and retain water and minerals, and mitigate natural processes such as soil erosion and nutrient loss due to runoff (Chiaradia et al. 2012). Healthy, diverse forested ecosystems also moderate and dampen the harmful effects of desertification, the increase in soil aridity over time, and salinization, the increase in soil salt content over time (ILRI 1989).
Safeguard Cultural Heritage Sites
La Reserva Forest Foundation envisions a planet where people are capable and willing to live in affinity with the land. At the heart of our approach to reforestation work is the abiding principle that the wellbeing of Costa Rica’s forests is closely linked to the health and vitality of those who depend on them most. The Maleku community, an indigenous, forest-dwelling community in northern Costa Rica, lives in sync with the natural rhythms of the Earth. Their forest-based economy (Vinding et al. 1998) is directly imperiled by deforestation. We strive to sustain their livelihood and disseminate, like seeds, their core environmental values of simplicity, preservation, and wise-use management to ensure the long-term health of the Costa Rican forests. Our reforestation efforts will also preserve the aesthetic and recreational value of these landscapes, which will be cherished by communities, both native and visiting, for generations to come.
2021 Carbon Neutrality
The Republic of Costa Rica is setting precedence among the world leaders in conservation and environmental policy (e.g., Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland), confronting the modern planetary emergencies in droves and with dignity. In 2007, the Latin American country’s forward-thinking government set some ambitious goals to address 21st century climate challenges, including a nationwide 2021 carbon neutrality deadline that falls on the country’s 200th birthday (Harvard University 2008). If their landmark goal is met, Costa Rica will be the first zero-carbon nation in the world. La Reserva Forest Foundation is inspired by the country’s global leadership in sustainability and committed to strengthening its carbon-sinking ability by restoring its most reliable ally: the forests.