Gateway to analog forestry: EcoEra and La Posada Natura
Athina Koutouleas is a sustainable agriculturalist from Australia. Starting in May 2014, she and her partner embarked on a bike tour across Latin America, visiting sustainable agriculture and analog forestry sites across the continent. Reports from her journey will appear on IAFN’s site periodically. In her first entry from May 2014, she relates a stay with IAFN partner EcoEra, who began an analog forestry demonstration site last year.
Londres was our gateway for our analog forestry adventures. In the week I spent there, I came into contact with a handful of some of the most enlightened and environmentally conscious individuals I have ever met: a community of conservationists and agroforesters, if you will.
José Pablo and Natalie are the on-site employees of La Posada, an eco-village that is guided by the principles of analog forestry to develop the landscape. The site includes four fully self-contained guest houses, large spaces for yoga and meditation retreats, a communal kitchen, sounds of the gushing Naranjito River and an array of fruit trees.
Our hosts expertly guided us through the many species of tropical plants and animals and introduced me to the goal of the site and the current analog forest design. I was absolutely thrilled to have had the chance to put the principles of analog forestry into practice when José Pablo handed me a machete and we began to clear sections of the site that had been overrun by bananas and heliconias, impeding the growth of the planted trees. The next day we balanced our actions out by planting 16 guanabana (soursop) trees to increase the presence of tall, evergreen tree species, known as ‘V8’s in analog forestry parlance. We also visited surrounding sites and heard the journey that each forester has taken to get to the point of sustainability and productivity specific to their own land.
We worked feverishly in the nursery, propagating in hopes that some heirloom seeds José Pablo had purchased and collected would germinate this season. Natalie introduced me to the techniques of permaculture, which are strikingly different from the commercial practices back home in Australia. I left the towering gates of La Posada feeling more in-the-know about tropical plants and having had an excellent hands-on experience in analog forestry.