Mary and Mike have just returned from a visit to Costa Rica! So much to report …
After launching in Jamaica in 2009, Costa Rica was one of the earliest countries we began operations. We donated 500 breadfruit trees that were distributed to approximately 20 farms in Costa Rica. A few days ago we had the privilege of visiting with Pablo Salas, a farmer in the town of Pejibaye. Accompanying and guiding us was agronomist Daniel Battata, who works with Jungle Project, one of our collaborating partner organizations. The headline photo is a satellite picture from Google Earth Pro, with the locations of many of those nine year old trees geolocated. Click on one of the pins and you’ll see a photo of the tree (with people, optional) and the photographer’s selfie. Future updates of the app will include more features such as automatically identifying the tree variety. See the details for yourself by visiting map.treetracker.org.
Pablo is propagating and selling breadfruit saplings and also selling fruit into the local marketplace. He entertained us graciously, including having his mom serve us a traditional Costa Rican lunch. His farm is a model of what Trees That Feed likes to see.
The geomapping is a good bit of news in itself. We’re using Treetracker, an app published by Greenstand. The user (Mike, or whoever) stands close to the tree and takes a photo, being careful to show the shape of the leaves. The phone camera automatically records the GPS coordinates, plus date and time. Of course, you may be working out in the field with no internet connectivity. No problem! The camera or phone saves the information. When you’re back with wifi connectivity the data uploads. Very soon the tree shows up on the world map along with supporting details. TTFF uses the pictures to track the health of the trees periodically, as the satellite photos get updated.
Costa Rica, in Central America, has coasts on both the Caribbean side and the Pacific Ocean. The country is mountainous and has many different microclimates including many rainforests. The leaders have recognized the value of the ecology and are preserving it carefully. Their payoff is healthy economic activity from ecotourism. And interestingly the country derives 99 percent of its electricity from renewable sources (hydroelectric, wind and geothermal). If you’re interested in the environment and conservation we highly recommend a visit to Costa Rica.