Wednesday, April 16, 2014
   
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Bees for Trees

An Innovative Incentive for Reforestation


Can bees replace cattle as a primary source of income for watershed landowners and help the
Nandamojo flow year-round again? ROW's Bees for Trees program seeks to answer those questions and
facilitate the development of a sustainable economy in our valley.
In a study on the history of Guanacaste's dry tropical forests, published in the journal Forest Ecology and
Management, the authors write, "The rise of the beef industry was the single most influential driver of
deforestation in Guanacaste."* This holds true for the Nandamojo, and the effects the cattle industry
had on our watershed have been disastrous.
One can see the evidence in our dry river beds – large swaths of tropical dry forest were clear cut to
create cattle pasture, and where forest was reduced, our valley lost its ability to absorb water. Rivers
that once ran year-round are now waterless for at least three months a year.
Strategic reforestation of riparian zones (the areas along creek and river banks) and hillsides around the
Nandamojo is desperately needed. New forest growth will help recharge our aquifers and ensure that
more water feeds into our river system. For small-scale cattle ranchers, however, reforestation involves
an economic tradeoff whereby they lose part of their pasture.
One option for landowners is to apply to participate in Costa Rica’s Payments for Ecological Services
programs – the government gives grants to farmers in return for reforesting all or part of their land.
However, these funds are often inaccessible for small-scale property owners, and popular distrust for
government agencies prevents many from applying.
In order to provide cattle ranchers with the incentive to reforest the most critical areas of their farms
and replace income lost by decreasing pasture available for cows, ROW is issuing low interest loans to
begin honey production. Productive hives can help landowners earn more money from their farm even
after reforestation.
Two pilot projects were launched in 2012, and ROW is looking to add five more to its portfolio by July of
2013. Capital for the projects is provided through interest-free loans made to ROW by social investors.
Loans of $2,500 are used to purchase ten hives and all materials needed to produce raw honey.
To learn more about Bees for Trees and help ROW foster a sustainable future, please email our
executive director, Matt Rosensteele.
*J. Calvo-Alvarado et al. / Forest Ecology and Management 258 (2009) 931–940.
Bees for Trees was recently featured in the quarterly publication Annals of Earth, by Ocean Arks International. To read the article, click here.


Can bees replace cattle as a primary source of income for watershed landowners and help the Nandamojo flow year-round again? ROW's Bees for Trees program seeks to answer those questions and facilitate the development of a sustainable economy in our valley.

In a study on the history of Guanacaste's dry tropical forests, published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, the authors write, "The rise of the beef industry was the single most influential driver of deforestation in Guanacaste."* This holds true for the Nandamojo, and the effects the cattle industry had on our watershed have been disastrous.

One can see the evidence in our dry river beds – large swaths of tropical dry forest were clear cut to create cattle pasture, and where forest was reduced, our valley lost its ability to absorb water. Rivers that once ran year-round are now waterless for at least three months a year.

Strategic reforestation of riparian zones (the areas along creek and river banks) and hillsides around the Nandamojo is desperately needed. New forest growth will help recharge our aquifers and ensure that more water feeds into our river system. For small-scale cattle ranchers, however, reforestation involves an economic tradeoff whereby they lose part of their pasture.

One option for landowners is to apply to participate in Costa Rica’s Payments for Ecological Services programs – the government gives grants to farmers in return for reforesting all or part of their land. However, these funds are often inaccessible for small-scale property owners, and popular distrust for
government agencies prevents many from applying.

In order to provide cattle ranchers with the incentive to reforest the most critical areas of their farms and replace income lost by decreasing pasture available for cows, ROW is issuing low interest loans to begin honey production. Productive hives can help landowners earn more money from their farm even after reforestation.

Two pilot projects were launched in 2012, and ROW is looking to add five more to its portfolio by July of 2013. Capital for the projects is provided through interest-free loans made to ROW by social investors. Loans of $2,500 are used to purchase ten hives and all materials needed to produce raw honey.

To learn more about Bees for Trees and help ROW foster a sustainable future, please email our executive director, Matt Rosensteele.

*J. Calvo-Alvarado et al. / Forest Ecology and Management 258 (2009) 931–940.