As little as 60 years ago, the region was heavily forested to make way for pastureland. Only around 5 % of the native dry tropical forest survived. The remaining pastureland is heavily degraded – this can be easily seen from the helter-skelter terraces on the hills all around. As dry tropical forests are now the rarest of the major tropical ecosystems we are very dedicated to restoring this invaluable habitat.
In just 5 years the Eco Venao Project has reforested over 30 hectares of land and we are still going strong. In 2009 we have almost doubled our planted forest – we planted over 20,000 trees. With the impressive natural regeneration that we are seeing, things are going to look quite a bit greener before long!
The Eco Venao project was first assisted by PROREINA, a research, education and outreach program led by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Yale School of Forestry. We have since teamed up with local native species reforestation specialists, Pacific Forestry. We have supported environmental research and education initiatives in the area.
As our plantations have grown there has been a notable increase in forest wildlife. Monkeys appear to be thriving and the blue morph butterfly is back. Today our five year old plantation looks like an established forest and can be seen from the beach and far beyond. This forest is now over 30 feet tall with trunk diameters of up to 12 inches (30 cm). Its very encouraging stuff!