Hello everyone,

I am writing to you from beautiful (and rainy) Costa Rica, where we have already reached the halfway point for our internship at the International Analog Forestry Network (IAFN). At this point we have settled into a routine here in San Jose. One of my favourite weekly activities is to head to the organic food market that happens every Saturday morning in San Jose, known as the Fería Verde. There is always a wonderful selection of fresh, organic produce, prepared foods, smoothie stands, as well as artisanal clothes and crafts. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with live music and great people, so much so that it often feels more like a large gathering of friends rather than a market. Through this event we have been fortunate to meet many new people who are involved in very interesting environmental projects throughout the region, whether it be planting food forests, promoting organic farming or working to protect local bee populations.

Despite what this may sound like, we are also working hard here in the offices of the IAFN. Currently I am working on a short paper to describe the opinion of Analog Forestry vis-à-vis the use of non-native species. Often demonized in popular culture and within conservation circles, exotic species can serve a valuable role, especially within Agro-Forestry. Many foods that today are considered staple crops and that provide many economic and social benefits were once introduced species themselves. In Costa Rica, for example, one practitioner of Analog Forestry, Milo Bekins (also the Co-President of the IAFN), currently grows cinnamon, mangosteen, nutmeg, cardamom, citronella, ginger and turmeric, none of which are native to this region. He does this utilizing a method that is geared towards conserving and rehabilitating the natural ecosystem.

Non-native species may also have a role to play in the restoration of degraded landscapes. They may act as food or habitat for native species, promote pollination, replace ecological engineers or provide ecosystem services, among others (Schlaepfer, Sax, and Olden 430). Not wishing to diminish the real danger of many invasive species, the IAFN hopes to promote the idea that exotic species can be useful and beneficial and should not be prematurely overlooked for their non-native status.

 

 

Blackpepper Costa Rica

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