By copy+paste the following HTML code on your website, you can link to our site and help us to spread the word and get more people to sponsor trees!!
Select all the text and press CTRL+C to copy the code
What We Do
- What is the CCT project model?
- What types of trees are you planting?
- When are the trees planted?
- How are the trees planted?
- What risks do the trees face?
- Do you guarantee the trees?
- Can I expect to receive a cash return on my investment?
- How am I assured of continued good management of the trees?
- Can I come to Costa Rica and see the trees I am helping to plant?
- Why don’t I just plant trees in my own community?
- Why Costa Rica?
What is the CCT project model?
Community Carbon Trees Costa Rica produces a highly diverse selection of rare native tropical trees in our own nurseries and then carefully transports and plants them in a natural forest matrix. All trees are produced and planted by professionally trained and managed Community Carbon Trees work crews exclusively on degraded farmlands owned by local Costa Ricans (Ticos). Projects are carefully designed based on the topography, elevation and a host of specific permaculture factors associated with each piece of land and its relation to its neighbors. Tree planting areas are fenced off by CCT where necessary to protect the trees from cows and other animals to insure maximum growth rates especially when the trees are young and delicate. The participating local families cooperate in the design and vigilance of the trees throughout the 25 year cycle of the project. The CCT work crews maintain the trees for the first three years which entails at least three supervised maintenance cleanings per year. Once the trees have grown above the surrounding vegetation and are assured of continued strong growth rates, the participating family takes over the continued maintenance and receives instruction for an additional 22 years. The growing trees are carefully managed to generate food and income and are protected in perpetuity through community cooperation.
What types of trees are you planting?
We are especially committed to always plant a broadly diverse selection of trees, including tropical hardwoods, rare indigenous species, fruiting and flowering trees, coupled with medicinal plants with at least 50 different species in each forest expanse. The forests are designed to provide food and homes for animals and birds, protect water sources and river borders, control erosion, enrich soils with nitrogen and other nutrients, and produce medicine and forest products, including rare hardwood and softwood lumber. We collect seeds from surrounding areas, so the trees are acclimatized to the region and suitable for planting based on altitude, soil types, steepness, secondary plant cover and other factors. Native species are adapted to the local environment and are less susceptible to stress, disease, and pest damage. Local people are more familiar with their native plants and have more uses for them. See Species List in our Library for more information.
When are the trees planted?
Our trees are grown from specially selected seeds in our own nursery collected year round based on over 12 years of learning experience under the care and management of our expert team.
We move the trees from the nursery to the field for planting beginning in early June, after the rainy season has been underway for at least a month.
We continue planting until the end of August or September depending on the rains at which time rainy season continues for several more months, giving adequate time for trees to establish good root systems before facing the four-month-long sunny, dry season we have in Costa Rica.
How are the trees planted?
Land preparation and project design are always determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the steepness of the site, quality of soil, the kind of existing vegetative cover, and the species to be planted. In Costa Rica, given steep terrains and hard to reach areas, land preparation is done by hand with a machete. Most importantly, planting trees by hand with well paid and trained local labor provides great employment to local families and preserves cultural ways of life. Moreover, delicate work by actual supervised workers causes minimal damage to soil and surrounding vegetation. Indeed, we try to leave as much of the naturally occurring vegetation as possible as it serves to maintain ground moisture by providing shade in high sun times which protects the tender young trees.
In general, wide pathways or trails (“carriles” in Spanish) are cut on the contour into cattle grasses and regenerating secondary brush to make room for the trees. Otherwise, these grasses and sharp brush and vines will suffocate the young saplings. Foto9 Other times, ruedas or round circles are cut into the grasses and vegetation and the trees are planted in the middle. This cleared space is maintained while surrounding vegetation is allowed to continue growing to maintain ground moisture and protection from equatorial sun in dry season.
The trees are then manually carried onto the trails and planted approximately 5 to 8 meters apart to insure sufficient room to develop, yet create enough competition to achieve straight trees with good growth rates. Unmanaged trees planted here and there without maintenance and thinning do not grow as large as those planted in competition with other trees.
The grasses and surrounding vegetation and shrubs are allowed to remain for the first two to three years, with regular chopping around the base of each and every tree at least three times a year during the rainy season. In the summer months, these grasses and brush provide necessary shade and mulching material to protect the tender saplings from the burning equatorial sun.
After trees have achieved sufficient height above the surrounding brush,around 3 to 4 years old, they can generally withstand the sun, and maintenance decreases to occasional cleaning, removal of vines, and vigilance for pests or disease. Companion crops to enrich soils are also planted, such as beans and yucca and other native crops for short-term income and subsistence for local communities.
What risks do the trees face?
Tree species selection is critical to success and Community Carbon Trees experts select trees appropriate to the varied conditions found within the planting zone. If a tree is grown under unsuitable soil or site conditions, it will be weak and thus become susceptible to environmental stress, attacks from insects or competition from weeds. While soil analysis can be conducted and special applications prepared to improve the quality of degraded soils, more sustainable and organic results can also be attained by planting nitrogen fixing leguminous trees that enrich naturally the soil around them.
While disease can attack the growing trees, they have shown themselves to be remarkably resistant. As the roots of young nursery trees are susceptible to fungal attack, our experts treat all young saplings with a proven effective anti-fungal agent. After the taproot has matured, the risk of fungal infection drops dramatically. Any other species of trees to be planted have similarly been chosen for their resistance to disease.
Insects can attack the trees, like the leaf cutter ants, which must be dealt with rapidly while trees are young and tender. We often use local methods for protecting the trees, like using excrement from the ant’s nest itself to create barriers. When needed we may apply a non phyto-toxic fungus killer which kills the ants’ food supply, so they starve to death.
Larger animals may uproot saplings, feasting on their tender roots. We have witnessed a few instances of wild pigs digging up entire hillsides of freshly planted trees. Escaped cows can also be an occasional hazard. That’s why Community Carbon Trees invests in sturdy fencing before the trees ever get to the forest site. Once the trees have rooted several months after planting, their chance of survival increases. Shared maintenance of these fences by Tico Host families throughout 25-year cycle is part of the reciprocal relationship between Community Carbon Trees and the host farms.
Fortunately, in the area where we work, there is very low incidence of forest fires due to the humid tropical climate and extended rainy season, particularly on the central to southern Pacific coast where our family farms are located. While some Ticos still slash and burn grassy hillsides on deforested farms, these fires are generally controlled. At CCT, we work with the locals to design alternative agricultural practices to the outdated and destructive slash and burn practices.
Hurricanes have historically not been a real problem in Costa Rica. On rare occasions they have hit the Caribbean side of the country. However, there is a 3350 mt (11,000 ft) mountain range that separates the Caribbean from the Pacific side where our farms are located. This range acts as a massive buffer zone sheltering us from the heavy winds associated with such storms. More recently, however, given climate changes, Costa Rica has been touched by several hurricanes which impress upon us even more the need to reforest bare hillsides and riverbanks to soften the devastating effects of any possible hurricane in the future. Indeed, it is worth noting that 2009 marked the first Hurricane to ever form off the coast of Costa Rica, Hurricane Alma which formed just off the coast of Guanacaste. With climate change, we are ever more careful to plant appropriate species in potential floodplains to take advantage in permaculture fashion of any qualities presented by any given stretch of land.
Do you guarantee each tree?
YES, we replace all dead trees in the maintenance periods. Our crews return three weeks after the initial planting, for additional cleaning of the surrounding brush to create enough open space for the trees to prosper. If a tree is going to die, generally it will do so soon after planting or within the first year. When we clean the trees in Year Two , we check again for mortality loss several months after the rainy season has begun. At this time, any dead trees are replaced again and the vigilance continues. Sometimes farm soils or water runoff problems can be adjusted to help trees in zones of higher mortality loss. Our experience will ensure you that each and every tree you pay for will be planted and maintained with the utmost care.
Can I expect to receive a cash return or a tax credit for my investment?
We are not one of those "get green rich" groups offering you cash returns for planting teak trees or other monoculture style plantation set-ups. We have seen and studied the pros and cons of many of these projects, and have chosen intentionally to stay away from these questionable schemes. At ACCT, we focus on planting and maintaining high diversity mixes of trees in order to help resolve planetary and local social and environmental issues.
We have currently been granted status as a non profit Association under Costa Rican law. Our Board of Directors includes some of our original team plus new folks added as we grow our base of supporters and more and more sustainable forests
Thank you for your continued support!
How am I assured of continued good management of my trees?
We have brought together a team of experienced and dedicated workers, local reforestation experts and agroforesters who specialize in growing tropical hardwood trees. Our experts participate in every level of the project from choosing and interviewing host Tico families, designing planting zones with Tico family input, collection of seeds and cultivation of saplings, transport of saplings, building fences, preparation of the land for planting, and supervision and maintenance throughout the 25 year cycle of the project.
Can I come to Costa Rica and see the trees I am helping to plant?
Yes, you may contact us to go on the Real Reforestation Tour ($55 per
person) or inquire as to our Kid’s Nature Day held once a month ( See
Education section under Cool Stuff). We can also design more
extensive volunteer opportunities or educational seminars for
students, groups and interested individuals. Hike and learn about
reforestation in the tropics with diverse species, use of medicinal
plants, and identification of tropical flora and fauna all in a
conservation framework. Jennifer Smith with Community Carbon Trees -
Costa Rica has over 13 years of local experience to enthusiastically
share with you and your family.
Our tours and workshops have something for everyone including playing in gorgeous warm clean rivers and waterfalls plus a wonderful lunch prepared with fresh ingredients by local Tico neighbors to satisfy all appetites and diets. We collect native seeds for our local tree nurseries where you can “hands on” help with tree production. We discuss challenges and processes of tree planting and maintenance, as well as beneficial effects of permaculture principles. Identification and discussion of medicinal trees and plants is included. Birdwatching and animal identification are also fun. Discussion of legal and social challenges for conservation of tropical rainforest and beneficial carbon sequestration. Duration 5 to 6 hours. Participants should wear long pants and hiking boots and bring hats, sunglasses and sunscreen, long sleeve shirts also helpful. Binoculars and notebook if desired. Cameras! Each participant should be an able hiker as we will walk a lot. Horseback riding seed collecting adventures available. Bring swimsuits too!
Why don’t I just plant trees in my own community?
You can plant trees where you live for all the beauty and services they give us. But, if you are looking to make a bigger difference per tree in cleaning the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, planting trees near the Equator gives you greater results. Without a cold dormant period, the trees planted in tropical rainy climes near the Equator far exceed growth rates of trees grown in North America and Europe The abundant undergrowth commonly found in tropical forests adds even more carbon sequestration capacity, not to mention all the other host of environmental services trees provide every minute of every day.
Why Costa Rica?
Throughout the world, intact stretches of rainforest are critical in the crusade to preserve the planet and the biodiverse array of plant and animal species living here, including us humans. In the face of modern day industrialization and runaway capitalism, there are few places in the world where existing stretches of healthy rainforest remain. And the Southern Pacific Zone in Costa Rica is ONE of them!
Costa Rica has been consistently rated as a low risk country for investment by the International Country Risk Investment Guide. Costa Rica is a democracy known for its system of statutory laws. Its Constitution guarantees private property, human rights and equal treatment of all people, including foreigners, before the law. Costa Rica also has a long history of environmental protections for biologically diverse areas. Over 25% of the country’s landmass is currently protected in National Parks and public or private reserves. Given that Costa Rica is the only country on the planet which gives natural features like trees and rivers constitutional protection, Article 50, there are laws to protect trees from indiscriminate cutting. In addition, comprehensive legal conservation easements can be used by landowners to protect private lands from present and future development. The country is free of civil unrest and does not have a standing army. Its people are hardworking and gentle, knowledgeable and respectful of Nature. The Pura Vida spirit is contagious.