Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mono Titi

Mono Titi
I had the privilege last Friday and Saturday to visit the Central Pacific coast for a visit to El Silencio and to Playa el Rey where my parents, wife, 4-year old daughter and 15-year old niece all participated in a reforestation project that aims to save the mono titi's (titi, or squirrel monkey) of Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio.

I've been working with a couple of very interesting green/eco clients of ours at 3rd Planet PR for some months now who have teamed up to make the world a better place for everyone - including the mono titi.

Carlton Solle is the President and CEO of  Zero Impact Beverages, headquartered here in Costa Rica. His +Space brand of "Zero Impact Beverages" aims to revolutionize the consumer beverage industry - "The first beverage container you don't throw in the trash". Not only is the packaging revolutionary, but +Space will plant a tree for every case sold and permanently preserve 1,000 m2 of land for every 10 cases sold. The company will launch it's first + Space beverage in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2011. You can register for their VIP release here. "Like" their Facebook page and they'll plant a tree for every like!

Kevin Peterson is CEO for The Eco Preservation Society. Mission? "Eco Preservation Society is actively engaged in sustainably focused programming for the purpose of wildlife conservation and reforestation. Our mission is to promote research, travel and education programs that advance environmental consciousness and facilitate public awareness with a call to action."

Carlton and Kevin are straightforward, focused, dedicated, and extremely energetic people who have teamed up on two EPS projects: the Playa el Rey Habitat Rehabilitation project and the Savegre River Rainforest Rehabilitation project. The former aims to save the mono titi and benefit many other plants and animals by creating a biological corridor between the Rio Naranjo and the Rio Savegre along Playa el Rey to join two separate mono titi habitats.

+Space and EPS hosted my family and me last weekend and we - all three generations of us - were able to participate with about 50 volunteers in planting 2,000 trees at Playa el Rey and see for ourselves some of the progress that has been made with reforestation along the Rio Savegre corridor. It was an incredibly beautiful and satisfying experience.

Playa Hermosa to the Rio
Savegre bridge.
We made the 5 hour trip from northern Guanacaste south to the Savegre River bridge, then north 6 kms. to the El Silencio Eco Lodge run by Coopesilencio - a farming coop of 45 families that run about 1,000 hectares of African palm plantation. The coop even has its own currency, the UDIS. Eco Preservation Society also runs the small El Silencio Wildlife & Rehabilitation Center there, a bonus for my 4-year old!

El Silencio Eco Lodge
The Lodge is sited on a volcanic hill that rises up from the flat coastal plain, affording spectacular views out over the palm plantation and surrounding hillsides. It consists about 10 well maintained cabinas and a beautiful rancho with bar/restaurant that serves guests and volunteers and that doubles as the social hub and watering hole for the locals on the weekends.

Coopesilencio plantation
After a restful night at El Silencio Lodge, Kevin took us to see the EPS nursery where young trees to be planted are acclimated and warehoused prior to planting. In all, EPS maintains about 18 native varieties of trees for its reforestation initiatives. Carlton's videographer flew into action and shot video and still images for +Space marketing and public relations campaign collateral.

A lesson in reforestation and land
management on the banks of
the Rio Savegre
As the sun began to heat up, we left the nursery to visit a reforestation site along the Rio Savegre that had been planted in May. Kevin explained the problem of land erosion caused by the cutting of native species along the Rio Savegre's banks to make room for African palm.

An area of reforestation beyond the
eroded bank of the Rio Savegre with
African palm beyond.
The roots of native tree species protect the soil along the river's edge from erosion when the river rises and its velocity increases. Palms that have been planted up to the river's edge have little root system and simply fall into the river as the edge erodes, resulting in lost production, land and income. EPS is planting trees to prevent future erosion, to provide animal habitat and to preserve plantation land. In order to get buy-in from the locals on EPS projects, there has to be an economic benefit for people as well as an ecological benefit for flora and fauna. By providing both, the success of projects and initiatives is increased significantly.

Playa el Rey with Manuel Antonio
National Park beyond
From the Savegre we drove to the reforestation site where we would plant 2,000 trees at Playa el Rey. Playa el Rey is a very secluded 12 km. stretch of beach that touches the border of Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio to the northwest at the Rio Naranjo and the Rio Savegre to the southeast. Past inhabitants (now evicted) cut the native forest and planted coconut palms. Coconuts are an invasive, non-native tree species in this region of Costa Rica and in many other parts of the world. The idea is to reforest the area with native tree species and remove the coconut palms, deep rooted grasses and almond trees that have invaded the area. This will create a corridor from Manuel Antonio to the Rio Savegre and join two mono titi habitats.

No doubt, it will not happen overnight. But it IS happening thanks to +Space and EPS! And I and my family were pleased and satisfied to take part in the effort to improve this  place and, in turn, save the mono titi from extinction. I hope it will happen in my lifetime. If not, I wish for the day my 4-year old returns to Playa el Rey to enjoy the shade provided by the trees we planted there, and to see the mono titi frolicking in the canopy above her head.

¡Pura vida!


  1. I posted a link to yours on my Facebook page. I have about 1500 beer cans stored in my ex-wife's garage in Chicago dating mostly from 1970-1976. And I used to brew my own beer at home there too. Still have my recipe book. Make me an offer on the cans!

  2. It's good to see someone giving back, instead of just taking from nature. I'm glad future generations (your kids) are involved in this for they will be most impacted by our actions.

    Tom Duffy