BURLINGTON, VT and GUANACASTE, COSTA RICA--(Marketwired - Apr 19, 2013) - To fight the devastating trend of wild pollinators and bee population decline, a U.S. based nonprofit is helping low-income families in Costa Rica become beekeepers, through Bees for Trees. By using entrepreneurship and crowd-sourced fundraising to restore forests in and improve the economy of an important wild pollinator habitat: the Nandamojo River Valley in Costa Rica, the program is hoping to expand. Costa Rica is a country with 5 percent of the planet's biodiversity. Qualifying donors to the crowdsourcing campaign will get honey, with a $25 minimum, and up to $100 off their next Gardener's Supply purchase depending upon the level of donation: the program runs until April 26.
Restoring Our Watershed (ROW), a U.S. nonprofit with the mission of protecting the vital mountain-top to mangrove estuary ecosystem of the Nandamojo watershed, launched its Bees for Trees initiative to help local farm families increase their household income through beekeeping and raw honey production -- thereby introducing more honey bees to the area and creating a revenue stream to fund reforestation of the Nandamojo River Valley's fragile ecosystem. ROW hopes that increased awareness of honey bee and wild pollinator decline in the U.S., along with a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign will help Bees for Trees expand in 2013.
In the U.S., understanding of the important role pollinators play in food production has risen with media coverage of the mysterious honey bee problem known as "colony collapse disorder," in which adult bees suddenly disappear from previously healthy commercial hives. The New York Times recently reported that the problem wiped out "40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation's fruits and vegetables" in 2012, a "disastrous year for bees."
Will Raap, a founder of both ROW, the Intervale Center, and earth-friendly retailer Gardener's Supply, explained the Bees for Trees program. "New research just reported in Science indicates that honey bees and wild pollinators have the most ecosystem benefits when they work together," he said. "Bees for Trees not only brings more honey bees to the area, it creates new, vital pollinator habitat through reforestation with native and flowering trees and improves the local economy. It may even help this damaged ecosystem avoid a pollinator crisis like the one we're witnessing in the U.S."
Encouraging pollinators, restoring forests and empowering families
The Nandamojo River Valley's healthy wild pollinator population has been bolstered with honey bees through ROW's Bees for Trees program.
"We have found a way to encourage reforestation, generate revenue to fund our organization, and help poor families earn a better living, while producing a healthy product produced on their land," said Matt Rosensteele, executive director of ROW.
Created in response to the area's historical, economic and ecological challenges, the ROW program provides participating families a zero-interest micro-loan of capital to begin producing honey from 10 hives -- enough to increase their household income by 30 to 50 percent. In exchange, they agree to stop using herbicides and pesticides on their crops, and to reforest 10 percent of their farm which is most critical to watershed health.
ROW supplies these new beekeepers with training in natural honey production and a mix of native species saplings, including flowering species that attract native as well as honey bee pollinators, to complete the reforestation. At honey harvest, ROW pays the bee keepers for their honey and accepts loan repayment in product. ROW then sells the honey in the local market for a fair price, and any profits are used to fund further restoration work and provide new loans.
To expand the program in 2013, ROW is also researching new, easier-to-use Top-Bar hive technology: a total fundraising goal of $7,600. When funded, the project will:
- Plant 3,000+ native species trees, representing more than seven acres of new forest, in critical areas. The reforestation mix will include a number of important flowering species, supporting native and non-native pollinator populations.
- Provide two area families with a new livelihood, representing at least a 30 percent increase in their household income.
- Create a sustainable revenue stream to support further restoration work
- Test the viability and productivity of Top-Bar hives in comparison to currently used Langstroth hives.
Gardener's Supply Company, which promotes earth-friendly gardening creation of homes for beneficial insects, has partnered with ROW to provide product gift certificates to donors, who also receive honey in exchange for their donations. The campaign runs through April 26, 2013.
To learn more about Bees for Trees and the Restoring Our Watershed project in Guanacaste, Costa Rica's Nandamojo River Valley, visit www.ourwatershed.org. To contribute to the Bees for Trees indiegogo campaign, visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/bees-for-trees?c=home.
About Restoring Our Watershed
Restoring Our Watershed (ROW) is a US-based non-profit organization (501c3) that has been working in the Nandamojo River Valley of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, for more than 10 years. ROW is committed to restoring and protecting the land, water, flora and fauna of the Nandamojo watershed for future generations through modeling community-based environmental planning and sustainable land use techniques, and increasing the vitality and resiliency of the local economy. ROW works in collaboration with many other local, national and international NGOs, as well as landowners, schools, farmers and government officials in the Nandamojo.
About Gardener's Supply Company
Founded in 1983, Gardener's Supply (gardeners.com) is an employee-owned company of avid gardeners providing garden-tested, earth-friendly products combined with practical information. Located in Burlington, Vermont, the company has won many awards for its patented products and innovative management style.