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Oasis Reforestation Reserve, a Vision of Hope in Costa Rica

Updated: Feb 18

From highly degraded land to a new tropical forest ecosystem

● More than 350 native species of trees and palms inhabit Oasis Reforestation Reserve, and 33 species of mammals

● 14 mammal species with reduced or endangered populations visit and/or inhabit the new forest

● An estimated 100+ species on the IUCN Red List, including mammals, birds, plants, reptiles and amphibians

October, 2023. Deforestation, species extinction, increasing droughts and forest fires, and our overdemand of natural resources at almost 2 planets per person per year (NatGeo, 2022) by the more than 8 billion people who inhabit the planet, is how we commemorate International Day against Climate Change. The Earth has the capacity to produce necessary natural resources and to absorb the waste that is generated, such as carbon emissions, yet we are exceeding their capacity and thereby consuming our future and that of others. And we do not have a Planet B!

Forests are the historical memory of the generations that have preceded us. In Costa Rica,

between 1940 and 1950, forest cover was between 72 and 75%, however, human action

caused this figure to drop to only 21% in 1987 (FONAFIFO, 2010). According to the latest

existing records we have 52.38% and we aspire to reach 60% -according to the goals of the

National Decarbonization Plan-. But who is behind this story of forest recovery?

Finca Oasis Reforestation, an example of ecosystem restoration in Costa Rica

Mr. Reuland is an engineer by profession and ecosystem

restorer by vocation, and says that since childhood he has deeply enjoyed his time and

connection with nature.

After observing the impact caused by deforestation globally and specifically in Costa Rica,

he began to look for a new way to live, fundamentally different, in balance with nature and with the goal of preserving, protecting and inspiring others to take action not only to reforest but to demonstrate a way that is financially superior than traditional agriculture or cattle farming.

In 2002, when he was 36 years old, he made a working visit to Costa Rica and it was then that

he decided to move from vision to action, after observing and studying the significant impact of deforestation on the flora and fauna on the ecosystem. He dreamed of the possibility of restoring a highly degraded land into a functional ecosystem and took action. His career allowed him to financially start his project, and so began one of the greatest adventures of his life.

He has proven that a deeply deforested and degraded land can be restored and transformed into a significant ecosystem within a reasonable number of years, with a bank of native flora and fauna for our and future generations and be home to an extraordinary number of species that inhabit and visit there. The project has also inspired and influenced a significant number of the surrounding people to plant trees and even change their production systems towards more sustainables ones.

Located in the foothills of the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica, Finca Oasis Reforestation is the

result of an idea conceived in 2002 to determine if small, severely deforested and depleted

agricultural and grazing lands surrounded by other mostly deforested areas could be reforested in a way that would recreate a meaningful ecosystem. This is not a simple reforestation, but an extremely intensive process led and financed by a single person. In the design of this forest restoration, more than 12.000 trees and palms, and also plants, vines, bromeliads and orchids have been selected and planted by hand to join the original fragments of semi-primary forest that remained along the rivers and on the hills that were not used for agriculture.

Today the forest contains some 350 species of native trees and palms, among them a

significant number are in danger of extinction, and this Oasis is home and biological corridor for 33 species of mammals, 14 of them in reduced populations or endangered, including the 6 species of Costa Rican felines. Even more remarkable is that overall Finca Oasis Reforestation is home to approximately 100 species that are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, to include mammals, birds, plants, reptiles and amphibians. This is an astounding change in an area that was devoid of safe spaces for wildlife to inhabit, transit and feed safely. Today this "Island of stability" has recovered its natural balance and is a living oasis, with all its food chain. David's vision, put into action in 2002, has now been transformed into a lush ecosystem, home to mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, fungi, invertebrates and is also a living seed bank.

Along the way, Mr. Reuland has become a specialist in the flora and fauna of the rainforest. He knows the species thoroughly, cares for them and observes their appearance, growth, flowering and has documented with extreme precision the entire restoration process, in this home for the species, to which he has given the name: Finca Oasis Reforestation. With a clear vision, he has led and financed the restoration project since he conceived the idea in March of 2002.

Since I was a child I always dreamed of a way to live sustainably with nature. In 2002 I had the idea to restore highly degraded property from scratch, to its genesis, to its life. And now this new forest is an island of stability, a great source of joy" - Mr. Reuland

Mr. Reuland, restorer of Finca Oasis Reforestation mentions: "I first researched extensively - as I started with no knowledge about the forests in the area - and searched for the right land. Although virgin forest, once destroyed, can never be the same, I theorized that replacing the quantity and diversity of flora -as it was- could bring back a reasonable ecosystem in a reasonable number of years. It has also become financially superior to traditional agriculture or cattle farming. The only way people will follow this example, or save existing forest, is if they can realize that it can be financially beneficial”.

He and the collaborators of the project have planted more than twelve thousand trees and palms, and also countless quantities of plants and vines, an average of about 600 per year for the 21 years since the idea was conceived, which have been carefully selected and planted by hand. Today this Oasis is home to more than 350 species of trees and palms, a number of which are endangered. Among the species, palm trees play a fundamental role in the production of large quantities of food. Finca Oasis Reforestation currently has about 36 species of native or naturalized palms, of the approximately 40 of the zone, and there is a palm nursery to produce more palms of the existing types and to cultivate the missing native species.

In the process of restoring the balance of the forest, the natural elements like birds, bats,

animals, insects, wind and water continually enhanced it by dispersing seeds, now from Finca

Oasis Reforestation and also Finca Oasis Virgen, the other project, to the surrounding

areas. This process dramatically increases with each passing year, benefiting nearby forest


In Oasis today inhabit the impressive Hercules the beetle (Dynastes hercules), also the Ojoche or Ramón (B. Alicastrum) that has few records in the country, and that after 18 years David longs to observe its fruits. Here also has a particular perfume, from the Guayaba de Mono tree (Posoqueria latifolia), which spreads throughout the place.

If the trees could speak, the one which could tell the story of this transformation is a Corteza

Amarillo (Tabebuia ochracea) that has witnessed the restoration of its own ecosystem since

2005. Once alone, it once again lives accompanied by a large number and diversity of trees

and other species and every March it fills the grounds with its flowering.

 Information on the restored ecosystem:

Location: Foothills of Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica

Deforested in: Estimated 1966, for extensive agriculture and grazing

Vision for restoration project began: 2002

 First 1,000 trees planted: 2005

 Size: 11 hectares

 Trees and palms planted: over 12,000

Species diversity: 350 species of trees (24 endangered) and palms, 33 mammals (14

species of which have reduced or endangered populations)

● An estimated 100+ species on the IUCN Red List, including mammals, birds,

plants, reptiles and amphibians

 Animals in danger of extinction or with reduced populations that visit the farm: 14

species as Jaguar, Puma, Jaguarundi, Ocelot, Tigrillo and Oncilla, small Anteater, Congo

Monkey, White-faced Monkey, Otter, Two-toed Sloth, Tepezcuintles, and Taltuzas, Olingo

What happens in the natural system when a species is missing?

Due to the impact of humans on nature, species are threatened, even to the point of local

extinction. When a species is missing in the ecosystem, it degrades and invasive species

prevent the growth of seeds, and this then affects the entire ecosystem. This is where the

human hand and footprint can make a positive contribution to restore the natural balance.

"Finca Oasis Reforestation is an example of landscape restoration and protection at a national level. That is why it will be part of the BIOTA program, a platform that allows forest owners to create digital assets of the ecosystem services generated on their farms," says Mario A. Piedra, Executive Director of FUNDECOR, a leading Costa Rican NGO with more than 30 years of experience in sustainable forest management and conservation in Costa Rica.

Everything is interconnected! Humans are just another species in the ecological system!

What changes can be observed today at Finca Oasis Reforestation after the intensive restoration process?

Species have returned: It is home and food for a large number of mammals including

the six types of Costa Rican wildcats, birds, bats, insects, snakes and other reptiles, and

insects which help with the seed dispersal and pollination in the forest

There is a living seed bank: It is a living nursery with a significant number of tree

species that are endangered

The temperature has been regulated, since shade has replaced the sun on the land

Air quality has been transformed through carbon sequestration

Fertile soils and erosion control

The water cycle and its availability has been regulated: The two streams that cross the

farm are protected and there is more quantity and quality of water for the system

● It is an oasis for scientific knowledge and of great educational value

Include everything your reader needs to make this recipe perfectly, with measurements, optional additions, or alternatives. For example:

What has the landowner learned?

That to make a vision come true you have to take action today, and that new, more sustainable ways of living are possible. Projects like Finca Oasis Reforestation can be replicated in other parts of Costa Rica and the world, creating "islands of stability" of different scales.

These places, in turn, can be centers of study or research, education, recreation and foster pride and cooperation among communities by showcasing unique local natural attractions. At the same time they demonstrate the economic value of natural ecosystems through tourism or sustainable management, and most importantly they can become spaces of hope and inspiration and contribute to future large-scale projects. Part of sustainability is that the farm, restored with its new forest and model, is financially sustainable over time. How is this generated? Through the Payment for Environmental Services granted by the State to landowners in Costa Rica, the visitation of tourists and also the products that nature itself generates for human consumption that can also be marketed.

Most of the time, mainly in urban and semi-urban areas - where consumption has become a rule of life - we do not remember the source of everything we consume, nor do we know who

protects these resources. Human beings can leave a large positive footprint by returning to their source and, by restoring a space, generate multiple benefits, goods and services, called

ecosystem or environmental services (defined in the Millennium Assessment), thus returning to the genesis, and reaffirming the importance of living in a symbiotic relationship on our planet.

What do you feel when you are in the forest and what inspires you to act?

A forest is not a tree, but it starts with a tree and a vision. David’s vision and living case study

from 2002 has become a reality, and today it is a lush ecological system and an example on a

national and international level. Finca Oasis Reforestation demonstrates the power of positive human action to recreate a tropical forest ecosystem on a small scale, with great potential to be replicable and scalable and thus generate multiple benefits for all species.

The time to act is today. The trees, plants, palms and other species that provide us with

wellbeing have been planted and protected, they are the historical memory of the use and

management that our ancestors gave to nature. It is our responsibility to take action and make a difference today. Find out about the history of the forests around you and define what is the legacy you are leaving or that you want to leave and what is the next action you will take? David today invites us to be the protagonists of the story that will be told in a few years and start creating now the next Oasis.

Do you want to know more about Finca Oasis Reforestation and OASIS FORESTS? Contact us: /

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