Analog Forestry in cities: Planting in Los Cipreses, San José
IAFN’s mission statement includes the phrase “a new rural development paradigm”. But is analog forestry only a solution for rural areas? Can the forest never again come to the city? These days, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Our work with the Los Cipreses neighbourhood in San José, Costa Rica, shows that this half of humanity also has a need for more forested area.
San José is a bustling city crisscrossed by rivers, which provide conduits for water and natural areas throughout the urban area. However, many of the local riverbanks have been stripped of their forest cover, and many serve as dumping grounds for the city’s garbage. The municipality of San José has recently begun the Río Torres Interurban Biological Corridor project to begin reforesting these areas in order to bring back the biodiversity of the areas surrounding the city, and to protect the area’s watershed, which is coming under ever-increasing demands.
IAFN and the Comité Pro Bandera Azul Los Cipreses have been contributing to this effort with the reforestation of a stretch of riverbank along the Río Torres, in the Los Cipreses neighbourhood of Barrio México in San José. The trees there were cut down long ago, and the slopes were taken over by elephant grass, a persistent invasive species that can keep anything else from growing in the area.
In July 2014, the first planting took place on the riverbank by Los Cipreses, with the participation of dozens of men, women, and children from the neighbourhood, as well as volunteers from IAFN and the municipality. The planting was also supported by Grupo Pampa, a local win importer, who offered a promotion in May 2014 where they pledged to plant a tree for every bottle of wine sold. Their contribution to this planting was essential to its success.
“We’ve thrown away a lot of garbage and destroyed our environment” says one of the children who planted that day. As these trees grow up, they bring a change in the urban environment, and in the minds of the people who live there.
Photo credit: Kitty Garden