Join us in protecting
acres of vital tropical habitat!
The area where our tree farms are located
was once completely covered with tropical rainforest. But now, like so much of the rest of
the tropics, the area has been largely deforested, with isolated remnants of
Sherry and Steve receiving the
National Arbor Day Foundation's
Good Steward Award
In selecting our tree
farms, in addition to choosing land that would be wonderful for planting our tropical hardwood
trees, we have sought farms that have areas of remaining rainforest that we can preserve
and protect, and our tree owners can explore and enjoy.
One of the magnificent rainforest trees on the farms
We are completely protecting nearly
7,000 acres of
tropical rainforest on our farms. We have designated all 14,000 acres of the farms
as private wildlife sanctuary, completely off-limits to all hunting.
Beautiful and rare orchids and bromeliads
We are also planting tens of thousands of trees that will never be harvested,
in new, permanent corridors of natural habitat connecting the patches or islands
of remaining forest to allow the animals to move freely among the forested areas and
extend their breeding and feeding range.
We are also planting trees along the rivers and
stream banks to preserve the waterways, on steep hillsides to prevent erosion, and
flowering, fruiting and shelter trees to attract and feed the birds and animals.
witnessing a wonderful return of birds, animals and butterflies to our farms, which
are once again home to the endangered and majestic scarlet macaw, as
well as black guans, great curassows, a huge deep-forest bird that
stands 36 inches tall and has been hunted nearly out of existence, and
several species of beautiful parrots and toucans. Many species of
hummingbirds dart through the forests and along the edges.
Beautiful butterflies now thrive on our farms.
encounter troops of the awe-inspiring howler or Congo monkeys, as well
as white-faced or capuchin monkeys, long-limbed spider monkeys, and the
tiny endangered squirrel monkey. Several types of endangered cats also
live in these precious forest - the beautiful ocelot, the smaller and
more rare margay, and the beautiful and elusive jaguarundi, as well as
pumas or mountain lions and now occasionally even the majestic jaguar.
We often feel that the animals are as
interested in us
as we are in them
sometimes see the cat-like jet black tyra or tayra, tiny rainforest or
brocket deer, about the size of a large dog, and pacas, a large rodent
like animal. Both white-lipped and collared peccaries live in our
forests, as well as kinkajou and the smaller, more unusual, olingo, and
two kinds of anteaters. Bands of
coatimundis now roam the forests and two-toed and three-toed sloths can
sometimes be seen slowly moving among the trees.
Close-up of a beautiful three-toed sloth on one of our farms
We have set aside more than 60% of
the area of our farms in complete conservation, areas
which will never be harvested. We are protecting and extending the permanent natural
habitat for the existing birds and animals, and working to encourage the return of the
other birds and animals which once inhabited the area before it was cleared for cattle.
A little more than a week
after we included a special
section in our
Fall 2004 Tree
Owners News about the birds and
animals that are returning
to our farms as we protect their habitat,
we had the opportunity to be on horseback on our Sierpe farm with
Beto and two delightful prospective tree owners from England. As we
were riding along one of the many trails on the farm, Beto suddenly
stopped and stared at the ground beside his horse. We looked down
as he pointed out large tracks in the mud - very clear jaguar
tracks. The large cat had only a few hours earlier walked along the
same trail, going in the opposite direction. From the depth and
width of the prints, Beto estimated that the jaguar was full-grown,
approximately 300 pounds.
He said that our workers
have now seen jaguar tracks on both our Santo Domingo and Sierpe
farms, but that this was the first he had personally seen fresh
tracks on the farms.
We couldn’t have been
more excited. The highest level of tropical conservation is to have
the habitat be sufficiently large and sufficiently natural and
undisturbed that the entire original bird and animal population
returns, all the way up to the top of the food chain. In the
Americas, the endangered jaguar is at the very top, requiring a
large area of natural habitat and abundant natural food.
Seeing those jaguar tracks
confirmed to Beto, and to us, that together we all really are making
a significant difference.
Two days before we saw the
jaguar tracks, we were on the Santo Domingo farm, riding with Ulyses,
a worker who has lived in the area of the farm for more than 40
years, including working with us for the last 11 years on the Santo
Nearly all of our workers
are genuinely excited about the animals that are returning to the
farms and, as we rode, Ulyses was recounting that for his whole
life, there were no rainforest deer (about the size of a large
German Sheppard) in the area, but that his father had told him when
he was a young boy that the little deer used to live in the forest
there. He grew more animated as he told us that now they often see
the diminutive deer in the protected forest on the farm. Then he
stopped and had the warmest, softest look on his face.
His eyes welled up as he
told us that a few days earlier, when he was working at the edge of
the forest, he discovered a tiny baby deer, nestled down in the tall
grass and looking up at him. He said that when he looked into its
precious, innocent eyes, he was so moved that he knelt down, cupped
its little face and kissed the baby deer on its tiny nose. As he
was telling us, Ulyses spontaneously held his hands close together,
a few inches in front of his face, and relived the experience again,
kissing that tiny little nose.
We can’t describe in words the
vision of a grown, humble man, with tears in his eyes and his lips
puckered in a remembered kiss of a baby animal, so moved by the
knowledge that the work he and his fellow workers are doing is truly
helping the world.
You too can be a part of this
effort and make a difference by growing tropical hardwood trees.
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