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Bonaire’s Reforestation efforts for 2019 have begun.

At last Saturday’s Nos Zjilea event at Mangazina di Rei, Ms. Julianka Clarinda of Echo Foundation presented information about Bonaire’s reforestation efforts for 2019, which are already in full swing.  This year is the fourth year of Bonaire’s reforestation program conducted by Echo.  The first tree planting event this past weekend at Put Bronswinkel in Washington-Slagbaai National Park, a prime birdwatching location, saw 500 new trees planted.

Bonaire's 2019 reforestation efforts have begun

Preparation for Bonaire’s reforestation initiative.

Collect seeds and grow the trees.

There is much work to do to prepare for reforestation efforts, and the work begins well in advance of planting of the native trees.  First, an exclusion area must be selected.  It’s called an exclusion area, because it will be fenced to keep free-roaming animals out, as much as is possible.

Echo will begin with collecting seeds from native trees.  This is done by roaming Bonaire’s mondi, or bush area, to aquire enough seeds to plant.  Next the seeds are planted in Echo’s greenhouse, located at their Nature Center at Dos Pos.  There they will germinate and be tended to until they are at least 60 cm tall (23.5 inches), when they can be planted.  This height of the tree is necessary.  Even though the selected areas are fenced to keep out free-roaming animals, some will still get in–such as iguanas–and they will feed upon the new tree’s leaves.  If the tree is not mature enough, it won’t withstand this munching, and will die.  If the trees are of this necessary height, they will withstand a little munching by Bonaire’s fauna.

Be sure the exclusion area is fully excluding.

While the trees are germinating and growing, Echo is busy with preparing the chosen locations.  If a fence is not present, it must be built, and this is done with as little disturbance as possible to the site.  Once the site is prepared, it is ready for Echo’s Tree Planting Days.

This year, there are four additional events for planting the trees, which will take place in August and September, just before the normally rainy season on Bonaire begins.  Check out Bonaire’s Calendar of Events for dates and additional information.  It is planned that 500 native Bonaire trees will be planted at each event.

There are 11 Exclusion Areas in the Bonaire Reforestation program, including those added in 2019.

There are two exclusion areas already in Washington-Slagbaai National Park, with a third planned for 2019.  These are Washington plantation, Slagbaai plantation, and Goto. Additional areas include Brasil, Salinja Tam, Kach’i Baka, Tolo, Seru Largu (which can be easily visited by those with an interest in seeing Bonaire’s reforestation efforts), Morotin, Yerba di Seru, and Roi Sango. 13,000 native trees have been planted in the last years of the reforestation initative.

Bonaire's 2019 reforestation efforts have begun

The majority of the reforested areas are in Bonaire’s northern section, which is prime parrot habitat. Although the population of Bonaire’s Yellow-shoulded Parrot (Amazona barbadensis) is stable, Echo hopes that Bonaire’s reforestation will provide additional habitat for these special birds.

Monitoring continues after planting.

Echo Foundation continues to monitor reforestation efforts, and they know the survival rate of all the trees which have been planted in recent years.  This is important for the continuation of the initiative, so that future efforts can be focused upon what was successful.

Come plant a tree, or adopt a tree!

If you have a visit to Bonaire planned for either August or September, check, the tree planting dates to see if you can join in.  Echo appreciates any help with Bonaire’s reforestation efforts.  If you will not be on the island, then you can still help Echo’s efforts by symbolically “adopting” a tree.  

Talk with Echo at Nos Zjilea about reforestation.

If you have an interest in learning more, you can meet with the Echo crew at the monthly Nos Zjilea event as they are always present in the market.  Stop by and purchase a tree or just learn more about Bonaire’s reforestation.  Nos Zjilea is the last Saturday of each month and is held at Mangazina di Rei in Rincon.

(Source:  Echo Foundation, images courtesy of STINAPA)

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Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, a certified bird guide, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 

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