“Remarkably diverse, and extraordinarily rich”, is Costa Rica ’s combined flora and fauna. Because Costa Rica lies on the isthmian link that has made possible the dramatic interchange of biota between the previously separated North and South American continents, it hosts 800 species of birds, 350 species of amphibians and reptiles and 8000 species of higher plants. The enormous and tragic devastation of tropical forest, unfortunately promises to continue into the 21st century, despite the best efforts of all who care for it (Janzen, 1983). Thanks to contemporary Costa Rica environmental legislature, it is no longer at the hands of large logging interests, it is due to the suburbanization of the jungle, commonly referred to as the domestication of small plots of land or “lots.”
Yet, it does not have to be like this. New and existing owners of Costa Rican real estate have an opportunity to be guardians of the jungle diversity we co-habitat. The following are a few jungle friendly practices we can all employ to support and maintain our flora and fauna diversity.
Pack up you plant droppings, clippings and rakings below your cherished trees and plants; and along your property lines.
We live in a unique environment of tightly packed, pores clay soil. The secret to unlocking this rich soil lies in the quantity of mulch or dry decaying material we provide it. When we rake it naked we further shut down the tightly packed pores clay, and deny it the forum to absorb nutrients. Our goal is to mimic Mother Nature while creating a safe and comfortable setting for our families and ourselves. It is a fine and delicate balance for sure.
All local creeks, drains and swamps provide valuable resources to all jungle and human life. These precious waterways purify our drinking water in its flow toward our community watersheds. Therefore, it is against Costa Rican law to chop, clean or alter within 10m of a creek in an urban or suburban setting, within 15m of a rural setting, and within 50m of a creek with surrounding land inclination of 30 degrees or more.
All of the land in costa rica we co-habitat here in the Talamancas is coastal slope; that means it all drains to our wells and then to the sea, and rapidly. With an average annual rainfall of 134” in the province of Limon , dangerous chemicals (that are manufactured in other countries and outlawed in those same other countries!) are ineffectual to their targeted noxious weed, before they are washed away down slope and toxic to wild, human and sea life.
The 50m of the coastal tide line: the sole natural habitat of the coconut; the transition of jungle and sea, public and private lands, is endearingly referred to as the coconut walk. It is a delicate and fragile ecosystem, which over the past 100 years has suffered from blight to now human destruction.
Understandably so, the desire of the modern business owner is to clean the coconut walk for the enjoyment and the safety of the tourist. However, the coconut walk does not like to be well manicured. If one wants to clean up the coconut walk for recreation and safety, it is best to pack up the droppings, clippings and rakings around the bases of the existing trees and shrubs in the coconut walk. The coconut and associated trees (noni, almond, sea grape) depend on the nutrients and protection they receive from the so-called “debris” of the coconut walk.
The integrity of our biodiversity here in the Talamancas depend s upon our conscious reforestation of native plant species. For instance, we are currently witnessing the endangering and extinction of native shade palms, and worse, the introduction of non-native, aggressive and evasive species. Insist and support native plant nurseries. Practice the art of nature-scaping.
As good jungle stewards (and lover’s of wildlife in our yard, right?), we need to provide habitat for the animals with whom we co-habitat. When we plant trees and shrubs that are “feeders” (food source), we directly provide scarce food source, and nesting sites for our wildlife friends. Not to mention the fact we gain invaluable entertainment and joy for ourselves.
Myth: The Guarumo trees are dangerous trees because they grows tall and angularly. No lot is too small for the Guarumo trees (Cecropia peltata L.). She is the most amiable, resourceful, and dependable tree family (Cecropiaceae) we have in our jungle home and business garden. First, most wildlife eat or use her: the monkeys, orlapengula birds, sloths, tucans, birds of prey, and ants are consistently found in these trees. Secondly, she makes herself of interlocking fibrous segments which allow her to grow tall and angularly, yet, securely. Thirdly, she’s so amiable that she grows in harmony with existing trees; that’s why she is always at an angle. Fourthly, the Guarumo trees are medicinal (we same humans use the leaves medicinally), with large, attractive palmate leaves.
There is no reason to burn, as everything brown and dry in your garden (for example, dry leaves, limbs, pods, bark, husks, clippings, etc.) serves a purpose. It is your available carbon source that should be packed up around your cherished trees and plants. When we burn these precious jungle by-products, we deplete our carbon reserves that unlock the secrets of our pores clay soil. Mother Nature depends on the top-coat of carbon source to create lush hummus to work her jungle magic.
Myth: You don’t have to cut it all down and cover it with gravel to protect yourself.
We all have the capacity to create kinship and safety with all life through our magnetic thoughts, words and actions. I recommend consciously creating the domain in your home and business jungle garden as “I won’t trouble you if you don’t trouble me,” with all your jungle flora and fauna.