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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Costa Rica and the Crystal Waters Project

When hundreds of tribes and thousands of supporters gathered at Standing Rock in the U.S. midwest to protest a pipeline that threatened the local tribes water supply, a simple mantra became their guiding light and principle message, “Water is Life”.

Started in early 2020 the Crystal Waters project, founded by ASANA, the local area conservation in Perez Zeledon, set out to build understanding of two main river basins within Costa Rica’s mid-Pacific coast, the Rio Baru, the oft-visited Nauyauca Falls and Rio Higuerón.

In 2020 to safeguard the health of the headwaters of Rio Baru in Valle Diamante in Perez Zeledon the group invested in costly water testing equipment and with the help of volunteers began taking samples from across the watershed to establish a baseline picture of the health of the watershed.

Fast forward to late 2021 and the project is facing a funding shortfall and its future seeming in question. Calls and emails to the key ASANA representatives who worked on the project were not returned. Stepping into the gap is Community Carbon Trees of Costa Rica led by Jennifer Smith, a veteran reforestation expert and avid conservationist, based in Platanillo de Baru.

Smith takes a big picture view. As she insists on the CCT website, “Growing biodiverse tropical rainforests balances global weather cycles” and she leads by example helping people plant trees, one at a time, and carry for each one until they mature and are a part of a rainforest.

The group recently posted a YouTube video documenting the first step in transforming cow pasture back into rainforest. Smith introduces the Tico family that is being paid to replant their own pastures with rainforest tree species in the first round of 1000 trees to be planted within their small slice of the Baru River watershed.

Amy Shrift, an organic grower in La Florida is an avid supporter. She’s just launched a personal campaign to help find 100 donors of $100 each to raise $10,000. She calls it “Paper for Water.”

Such a fund would allow other Tico families to benefit from this initiative and transform additional hectares of cattle pasture into rainforest and in this way follow on from the original Crystal Waters project. Amy hopes that the equipment bought by ASANA will be available to test the water within the Baru watershed after the reforestation process is complete and in this way help demonstrate the positive impact of such reforestation efforts.

In the latter decades of the 20th Century the economy of Costa Rica grew by cutting down rainforest to make way for cattle and the commercial beef market. Now in the 21st slowly but surely up and down the Pacific Coast the economics of reforestation and the value of eco-tourism is being demonstrated with a variety of projects across a broad scale.

It’s a long term investment of time, labor and money but understanding well that “Water is Life” the calculation is simple and the cause just

If you want to sponsor further tree planting you can contact Jennifer Smith at CCT or follow this link to make a contribution:

For more information about ASANA:

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