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Oasis Reforestation Reserve

By OASIS FORESTS 

2002-2024

Oasis Reforestation Reserve, a now restored rainforest of 11 hectares nestled in the foothills of Costa Rica’s Arenal volcano was the first property acquired by OASIS FORESTS, in 2004 as deforested and highly depleted agricultural and pastureland.  It was decided to transform by attempting an intensive restoration process to return to how it was before in quality and diversity of flora in order to recreate a significant ecosystem and a sustainable income. Although a virgin forest can never be replaced, we believed that it could still be possible to recreate a forest with enough conditions to bring back a significant ecosystem in a reasonable amount of time. 

Land in the beginning of the transformation, 2005

Results of Private Efforts

+12.000

Trees, palms, plants, vines, orchids and bromeliads

+350

Species planted

+100

Flora and Fauna Endangered species UICN Red List

Oasis Reforestation Reserve
The Most Comprehensive Restoration Model:

Over 12.000 trees and palms, and also countless plants, vines, orchids and bromeliads were individually selected and planted to join the original fragments of forest adjacent to the rivers that were not utilized for agriculture.  In total there are now more than 350 species of trees and palms of this zone and about 100 endangered species, both flora and fauna, from the IUCN Red List.  

 

Oasis Reforestation Reserve has been transformed into a vigorous ecosystem that is home for mammals, birds (including visits from Great Green Macaws yearly since 2015), reptiles, amphibians, fish, fungi, invertebrates and is also a living seed bank.  


Oasis Reforestation Reserve is already close enough to Rio Arenal that the 6 types of wildcats of Costa Rica pass through, and we have had 33 visits from white-faced monkeys from the forest fragments connected to Rio Arenal. By restoring this depleted land, it now produces its income from tourism and hosting conservation organization personnel.

Oasis Reforestation Reserve clearly demonstrates that deforested, depleted agricultural and grazing land can be restored in a way that results in a significant ecosystem.  For this specific project, we found that it took about 20 years to begin the project to have a complete ecosystem.  Note that this project was done as time, knowledge and money permitted, and so results could have been significantly faster with dedicated, full-time resources and foreknowledge of the process.  Projects like this could be replicated all over the world, creating "islands of stability" on any scale for both flora and fauna.  They could serve also as centers for study, education, relaxation and encourage pride and cooperation in the communities that host them in showcasing their unique local natural attractions.  They can also demonstrate the economic value of natural forest ecosystems via tourism or sustainable logging, and maybe even inspire and contribute to future very large-scale projects.

 

So far, 16 landowners were influenced to plant trees on their properties by the success, beauty and economic factors superior to traditional clear cutting for agriculture and grazing demonstrated by Oasis Reforestation Reserve.

Our Kingdoms

Tree Kingdom

Tree Kingdom

 

Valuable tropical woods commonly known in the world grow here:

  •  Almond (Almendro Amarillo)

  •  Bocote (Laurel)

  •  Brazilian Cherry (Guapinol)

  •  Cristobal 

  •  Mahogany (Caoba)

  •  Purpleheart (Nazareno)

  •  Ron-Ron (Jobillo)

  •  Rosewood (Cocobolo)

  •  Spanish Cedar (Cedro Amargo)

  •  Teak 

  •  Tempisque (Danto Amarillo)

  •  Zapote

 

Some other additional exceptional quality tropical wood species, lesser known:

  •  Bala de Cañon

  •  Balsamo

  •  Caobilla (Cedro Macho)

  •  Cedro Maria

  •  Cenizaro

  •  Espavel

  •  Jicaro (Olla de Mono)

  •  Manu

  •  Pilon

  •  Roble Coral

  •  Roble Sabana

  •  Sura (Guayabon)

Rainbow colors: 

The colors of the woods that grow here are like a rainbow:  reddish, orange, pink, yellow, olive, purple and black.  

 

We grow trees with among the hardest and softest woods known on the planet.  The wood of Guayacan Real is so hard and dense that it sinks in water, while the wood of the well-known Balsa Wood tree is so light that it is used in real and model airplanes.

 

The tree known locally as Sura, or Guayabon, has a very smooth, tan-colored trunk and periodically sheds its thin bark just like a snake sheds its skin. This method is extremely efficient to shed all climbing vines which might otherwise hinder growth or kill the tree.  As a result, trees of this type have a high survival rate and grow quickly to an enormous size.

 

Few of a kind: 

Unfortunately even types of trees have become rare or in danger of extinction,  Oasis Reforestation Reserve has about 24 species of this type, and we hope they can serve in the future to preserve the species:

  •  Areno

  •  Bala de cañon

  •  Balsamo (small leaves)

  •  Balsamo (larger leaves)

  •  Camíbar

  •  Cativo

  •  Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa)

  •  Cocobolo de San Carlos (Vatairea erythrorcarpa)

  •  Cola de Pavo

  •  Cristobal

  •  Guapinol

  •  Guayacan Real

  •  Jícaro de Danta del Volcan Tenorio

  •  Manu

  •  Manu platano

  •  Nazareno

  •  Ojoche (B. Alicastrum)

  •  Olla de Mono

  •  Pilon

  •  Pinillo

  •  Tabacón

  •  Tamarindo (Dialium guianense)

  •  Tempisque (Danto Amarillo)

  •  Tostado

One of the biggest and main plantations of Ojoche tree:

The "Ojoche" tree (Brosimum alicastrum) is also nick-named the "Maya breadnut tree" because it bears a nut so high in nutrients that the Mayan Indians used it to survive on when their crop of corn failed. The nut can be eaten as-is, or boiled or roasted or even made into flour.  Also it can be roasted and used just like coffee! The taste is very similar to coffee with a hint of chocolate.  Planted anew in the forest, this tree supposedly takes 18-25 years to bear fruit, so it is lucky that there were already giant trees on the land. In fact, we have identified 8 species of Ojoche (Brosimum spp.), all of which produce edible seeds here.  In total we planted 108 seedlings of B. Alicastrum beginning in 2006 and of those about half are still alive are strong… but none of the planted ones have yet produced seeds.

 

Breadfruit tree:

The Breadfruit tree was the reason for treason in the well-known story "Mutiny on the Bounty".  Captain Bligh used the fresh water to sustain the thousand saplings rather than his crew!  Our original breadfruit tree was killed by a lightning strike and we had to replant. This type of tree is difficult to “take”, and it took several tries but now we have five. This tree species produces an enormous supply of delicious and nutritious food for humans and animals - about 100-200 fruits per year, up to 6 kg each - yet they require no maintenance.

Chanel No. 5 as natural perfume in the forest: 

The Ylang-Ylang tree, one of the few non-native trees here, yields an oil that is used to make Chanel No. 5 perfume.  In the early years of this project, some evenings when the wind was blowing right the forest smelled like this perfume!  Now most are gone because they have been naturally reduced greatly in numbers because they are not native to this type of forest.

One of a kind:  

A handful of tree species are unique here.  Only some are in danger of extinction but all are difficult to obtain. As there are other rare species which we do not have at all, we feel lucky to have one of each of the following types. With luck each will eventually produce seeds and reproduce:

  •  Alma Negra

  •  Balsamo (small leaves)

  •  Balsamo (larger leaves)

  •  Cafe de Palo

  •  Jamaica

  •  Cucaracho

  •  Jorco (Monkey fruit)

  •  Kinocola

  •  Macadamia

  •  Mangosteen

  •  Vaco/Lechoso (Brosimum utile)

  •  Yema de huevo

  •  Nuez moscada (nutmeg)

 

Tallest tree species in the world are in Oasis Reforestation Reserve:

A tree species among the tallest in the world is native to this area.  The Ceiba tree can exceed 80 meters in height and three meters in diameter. The largest Ceiba tree here is relatively young at just over 2 meters in diameter.  Its seeds have spread and there are younger ones that are already sizable.

 

One species of fish in the stream is vegetarian and their favorite food is figs!  It was with excitement that new strangler fig trees were noticed growing on top of trees near the river in 2013.

The 8 national trees of the 7 Central American countries grow on Oasis Reforestation Reserve:

  •  Mahogany (Belize)

  •  Ceiba (Guatemala)

  •  Roble Sabana and Balsamo (El Salvador)

  •  Pine tree (Honduras)

  •  Madroño (Nicaragua)

  •  Guanacaste (Costa Rica)

  •  Panama (Panama)

 

Almendro and Great Green Macaws:

One species of tree, Almendro (Almond) de Lapa, bears fruits that are associated with at least 60 species of birds, mammals and insects!  The wood of Almendro is so hard to cut that it requires a diamond-tipped saw.  It is currently prohibited to cut this tree in Costa Rica because it is the home and major food source for the endangered Great Green Macaw and Red Macaw.

Time traveler! 

To serve as a home for the Green or Red Macaw, a tree of Almendro de Lapa (Almendro Amarillo and Almendro Rojo) must be hundreds of years old - old enough for large branches to fall off and create caverns inside the tree.  This species can live for over 600 years, and there are trees estimated to be about this age on the sister property of Oasis Reforestation Reserve (Oasis Virgin Reserve). They would have been seedlings in the 1400's.  The Almendro trees we planted on Oasis Reforestation Reserve have the potential to live into the 2600's. And since these planted trees are already heavily producing fruits which are sprouting, their existence here has the potential to be perpetual once again as it was from the beginning of their existence until about 1966.

Fruit trees from A to Z!  

Tropical climate is a favorite for well-known and lesser-known varieties, with the following list being only a sample of what types grow here:

  • Anona (custard apple) three types

  • Avocado

  • Banana (5 types)

  • Caimito

  • Carambola (star fruit)

  • Coconut (yellow and green types)

  • Grapefruit

  • Guanabana

  • Guava

  • Guayaba araza

  • Lemon (several types)

  • Mangosteen

  • Marañon (cashew)

  • Manzana de agua

  • Manzana rosa

  • Orange

  • Papaya

  • Platano

  • Sonzapote

  • Surinam cherry (Pitanga)

  • Zapote

 

Fun tree names!  

As opposed to the serious tree names of North America, Costa Rica has entertaining, descriptive and in some case baffling local names:

  • Alma Negra - Black soul

  • Ardilla - Squirrel

  • Bala de cañon - Cannonball

  • Cola de Pavo -Turkey tail

  • Espavel -In order to see

  • Indio Desnudo - Naked indian

  • Lagarto Amarillo - Yellow lizard

  • Matapulgas - Flea killer

  • Matrimonio -  Matrimony

  • Olla de Mono - Monkey pot

  • Peine de Mico - Monkey's comb

  • Tostado - Toasted

  • Vaco, Lechoso - Cow, milky

  • Zapatero -Hoemaker

 

Two tree types that are naturally among the most abundant on Oasis Reforestation Reserve  are Cedro Amargo (Spanish Cedar, or literally "bitter cedar") and Laurel.  It is fortunate that both are excellent quality building material, because the construction on Oasis is Reforestation Reserve of these two types of wood that were harvested carefully from the forest.

Milky sap!

There are several tree species on Oasis Reforestation Reserve which produce lots of milky sap.  One is called "the cow tree" because it produces so much.  Another species was the very first type of tree to be used to make natural rubber.  Indigenous people used to let this sap dry in sheets to use for a raincoat.  Yet another is used to make natural rubber and also chewing gum!

Genetic diversity is fundamental!

Whenever possible, when introducing a new tree species to Oasis Reforestation Reserve, we obtained specimens from different locations so that there was a large chance that the trees were not related. We feel this genetic diversity will make future generations stronger.

Bloody Tree?

The tree locally called Targua has sap that is the color and consistency of blood!  The sap of the "Dragon's Blood" tree is used medicinally for its wound-healing and antiviral properties.  I happened to have cut my finger badly while being a long way from help but in the vicinity of this tree, and the sap did help to stem the bleeding significantly.

 

Living fence posts?  What a surprise it was to learn of the approximately half-dozen tree types and many cane types that can grow by simply planting a thick branch.  Utilizing these, all the fencing around Oasis Reforestation Reserve is alive!  Not only are the fence posts free, they also contribute to the overall natural diversity.  

 

Bala de cañón:

The "Cannonball Tree" (bala de cañon) bears hundreds of large and showy pink flowers that grow on stalks surrounding its trunk, which turn into fruits the size and weight of cannonballs and smell like chocolate cake!  This type of tree is frequently planted near Bhuddist temples in Asia.  This is one of the types of tree from which a branch can be planted and used as a living fencepost, and the wood is of excellent quality too.

Armored trees! 

The trunks of 7 type of trees and palms here - the Ceiba, Pochote, Javillo, Lagarto, 2 species of Pejibaye and the Coyol palm- are covered with thousands upon thousands of very sharp thorns, probably having evolved this way as a deterrent to climbing animals who would otherwise cause damage to the trees. If you are hiking through a rainforest,  it is advisable to look before using a tree to steady yourself.

 

Chocolate!

Here, in our forest, are four types of cacao native to this zone: the typical cacao widely grown for chocolate, but also three little-known and endangered “wild” types.  All four serve as an important food source for the fauna, and due to this we planted a lot of them and now all four types are regenerating naturally.  The types, for now, are:

  •  “Normal” cacao - Theobroma cacao

  •  Cacao Pataste - Theobroma bicolor

  •  Cacao blanco - Theobroma grandiflorum

  •  Cacao de mono - Herrania purpurea

 

More info of our Cacao project