From dreams to reality!
From dreaming to doing!
December is also for Adopt Rainforest a great time to look back and forward. I would like to start with expressing my great gratitude to all volunteers and donors for their commitment and contribution last year! All that support is what drives the foundation. We look back on a year with fantastic developments. Several dreams of the past have become reality. I would like to share with you the biggest milestones and plans for the future.
First, the best news are from Costa Rica, after all that’s what it’s all about. The first howler monkey family has settled in the reserve! A few years ago, a male came to live there and just roared until a female arrived. So they had a baby in 2022! Read the amazing story about the howler monkey’s return here. In March we did a wonderful project with the local elementary school, where all the children from the village visited the research center for lessons about the rainforest. The oldest classes actually went into the reserve and planted trees. Watch the video of these special days here:
We had started the year by expanding the reserve with a 65-acre plot, the largest single purchase ever. Read the whole story behind this wonderful success here. Because this purchase caused the reserve to border a public road on all sides, we also hired 2 forest rangers to do patrols to further discourage illegal hunting and logging. After the awkward silence during corona, the research project has fortunately been full again for almost the entire year with students and volunteers, including for the first time two students from Costa Rica! Watch volunteer Madelief’s video here to get a good impression of the research project.
In the background we have been working with the help of good lawyers to drastically professionalize the organization. This was necessary because we are growing organically in all respects. After 5 years of building the organization and the research project in Costa Rica step by step, it was time to restructure a number of things with a clear vision of the future to ensure continuity in the long term. It feels good to also be able to take even better responsibility for the contribution of all donors in this way. To top it off, at the end of the year the first steps were taken to cooperate with Utrecht University for the expansion of our research.
The Dutch foundation
With all the developments in Costa Rica, the Dutch organization also needs to grow to provide the right support. Since September we therefore have our first employee. Matthijs Bol, founder of the foundation left the board and now works 3 days a week for the foundation. We can now answer questions from donors much faster and better and we are much better able as an organization to actively work with our volunteers to make the world aware of all the wonderful things we do, also for the benefit of fundraising! Since Matthijs started we have made tremendous progress on all fronts and we see this very clearly in a growth in donations. For example, one of our former dreams has come true: to tell the story of the foundation to Bush visitors with a stall for 3 days at Burger’s Zoo. But we also entered into a great partnership with Trees for All for the reforestation of 25 hectares of pasture land, the largest implementation project to date because no fewer than 27,500 trees have to go into the ground by 2023 plus maintenance in the years after. Read all about it in our article on reforestation. In the summer, after more than two years of online meetings, we fortunately had another very valuable live party in Utrecht where volunteers and donors were present. Matthijs, Maarten and myself gave presentations on the research project, reforestation projects and the development and plans of the foundation. Also back again are the live workshops at elementary school for our Rainforest for the Children project. Volunteers have fortunately risen again to carry out this wonderful mission and teach the children. Last but not least, we have once again managed to receive more donations than in previous years, even though at the time of writing we do not have final figures yet.
When I see the above I realize that “keeping short” has not quite worked out. And then the future plans are yet to come!
A new phase
In recent years we have had the focus of our activities on purchasing rainforest and realizing the research project. Relatively speaking, apart from creating jobs for a number of people, we have done little for or with the local population.
Now that the reserve is well over 200 acres in size we are one of the larger “landowners” in the area and with the research project we have also become a major employer. It has always been our vision that the whole project should be a locally supported project. We are of course continuously expanding the reserve and reforestation where necessary to achieve our ambition of 2,000 ha, but the focus of the next few years will be on increasing local involvement with the aim of making the project much more locally embedded. We will do this by doing many more projects with and for the people of San Miguel and the surrounding villages. In addition, due to the size of the reserve, much more active protection is needed, which we will achieve by deploying rangers. In concrete terms, this means that proportionally more money will go to these activities and slightly less to the purchase of new plots of land. This fits very nicely with the original plan we put on paper when the foundation was established. Active collaborations with local organizations (Barbilla National Park, Sinac, Minae, Punta de Lanza, etc) will also receive much more attention, all with the goal of getting the reserve and its immediate surroundings structurally well protected in the long term. The exact plans will follow in the annual report to be published in the first quarter of 2023.
We hope that you will continue to support us in these very wonderful developments and that you will join us if you are lucky enough to be able to come to Costa Rica one day!
Proud, grateful, satisfied and full of passion and energy, I myself will get back to work for foundation Adopt Rainforest!
Salud and Pura vida!