The story behind the restoration of the Boruca mountains

Learn the story behind the mountain ecosystems project in Costa Rica for the Restoration Stewards Program.

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Marlon Webb

In 2017, Hurricane Nate severely impacted communities in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica, along with other parts of the country. As an organization, we decided to create a campaign to collect supplies to support the affected people, so we contacted community-led organizations from various communities – such as farms in Palmar Sur and Boruca – to help manage the delivery of supplies.

Through various connections, I contacted Doña Lourdes Frasser, a community leader who founded and became president of the Association of Eco-Cultural Indigenous Women Sóˇ Cagrú de Boruca. She shared with us the problems that affected her community and others we were supporting.

We realize that communities need to restore their forests in order to conserve biodiversity and water resources, to promote food sovereignty for self-sufficiency and to diversify incomes due to the lack of development opportunities. This is necessary to improve their quality of life and the environmental balance, while helping to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

For this reason, we developed the Bosque para Nacer Agua Project, allying ourselves with Sóˇ Cagrú, a project that seeks to restore forests in the Boruca mountains in order to conserve springs and rivers, to increase biodiversity and improve forest cover, to develop community and family agroforestry systems, and to implement sustainable tourism. Sustainable and cultural tourism allows the community to provide income-generating services – such as lodging and food – to volunteers who want to know more about their culture and to help community development, while participating in a process of environmental and cultural education.  

In 2018, after many conversations and team planning, we headed for the Indigenous community of Boruca, in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica. This first tour was possible thanks to funding through our corporate social responsibility program. Its objective was to present the Association of Eco-Cultural Indigenous Women Sóˇ Cagrú with the pilot plan of the Bosque para Nacer Agua project, which would be launched in 2019 and 2020.

Over these past two years, we worked alongside 15 Indigenous families mainly led by women; involved more than 130 national, international and business volunteers; planted, monitored and maintained 1,500 trees; supported Sóˇ Cagrú in the planting of 20,000 trees; consolidated various project processes; and directly helped the families managing the project.

In 2021, we have resumed volunteering with the help of a thorough COVID protocol and hope to relaunch our international volunteer program. We are also implementing a nursery, as well as an ecological restoration plot using nucleation methodology. In addition, we are planning an agroforestry plot, with support from the Restoration Stewards program, and aim to build a structure that functions as a seed sanctuary, with support from the CEMEX-TEC Award.

Our plan as an organization is to replicate our project in other communities in Costa Rica and Latin America, especially focusing on Indigenous communities. But to continue we need support. You can be part of this adventure by following our social networks, participating in our activities and making donations.

Marlon Webb

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Supporting partners

Under the banner of Generation Restoration, the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) launched the Restoration Stewards program in 2020 to support and highlight the work of six young restoration practitioners and their teams, dubbed ‘Restoration Stewards’. The year-long program provides funding, mentorship, and training to deepen the impact of these projects.
In 2021, the Restoration Stewards and their teams will be supported to further develop their project and will become ambassadors at both global and local levels. Globally, the Restoration Stewards will share their journey in a series of vlogs and blogs documenting their stories of inspiration and challenges. Locally, they will spark a restoration movement, creating pathways to connect, share, learn, and act for more sustainable landscapes.