LRFF under the compassionate and dedicated leadership of Roberta Ward Smiley and Daniel Wilson, along with their many amazing volunteers, are bringing about necessary and measurable results. Not only do they positively impact the reforestation in Costa Rica, they are educating and inspiring countless others around the world to embark on similar efforts to help restore our precious planet.
A real grass-roots organization, LRFF puts all its efforts into planting trees and protecting existing forested areas. We have planted over 100,000 trees in the 6 years we've been in existence and have plans in the works to plant another 70,000! We are helping combat global climate change, protecting water sheds, providing biological corridors for migratory animals, and educating people about the critical role tropical forests play in the health of our planet.
I first experienced the work of La Reserva Forest Foundation 6 years ago on a tour through their preserve with Roberta Ward Smiley, founder, as my guide. What she helped me see was that small changes in the environment have a huge impact on all surrounding life. The growth of LRFF over the past few years has been impressive, the most recent project put 38,000 trees in the ground in an area that will improve the lives of flora & fauna and the indigenous people living there. I appreciate being able to work for a non-profit where I know monies raised are NOT being used for advertising or fund-raising but are going directly to reforestation efforts.
As a volunteer, I served as a founding member of the Board of the La Reserva Forest Foundation, watching it grow from an idea to a committed and energetic leader of reforestation efforts in the Arenal Tempisque Conservation Area, an area cited as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO as one of the most important watersheds in Central America. Inspired by what La Reserva was doing, we planted thousands of trees on our own property nearby and have been rewarded with the creation of a mini biological corridor for hundreds of species. This has been rewarding work indeed, and we applaud the persistence and dedication of La Reserva in creating a new culture of growth and conservation around Lake Arenal.
As a former board member and "volunteer," I was helpful in many ways in the founding and organization of La Reserva. It was intense work, because Roberta and Dan are intensely involved in this project, with a passion for living trees and creating forests to preserve the aquifers and offer opportunities for animal populations to migrate. Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse countries on the planet, and we are losing that diversity at an alarming rate. Just one example: the howler monkey population has dropped by 50% in just the last 15 years -- mostly due to loss of habitat, as well as the forest "bridges" that connect one habitat with another. Working with Dan and Roberta is an education -- not just about forests, but about what it means to be so dedicated and energetic in the pursuit of one's dream. Their trajectory over the past few years has been electrifying. They are now known everywhere, including among all the environmental institutions, both public and non-profit. They participate in some of these organizations and carry their message wherever they go -- especially in the local schools. They give tours of the forest they've created, collect seedlings, sell indigenous trees from their nursery, maintain the thousands of trees they've planted, and manage a thorough-going communications program. This is truly an organization worthy of support!
I began working with La Reserva Forest Foundation during college for a Service Leadership class where I consulted a non-profit. I had the privilege of being paired up with LRFF. I noticed from the first second I talked to Roberta that this was truly something special. Her passion was unmatched and her goals were out of this world. I realized that this rubbed off on everyone involved with this organization, which eventually rubbed off on me. Everyone involved has such a strong desire to make the world a better place environmentally, socially, and even economically. Their goals of restoring forest habitats, helping the people of the earth, and helping the economies of poor indigenous people in Costa Rica really spoke to me. It seemed as this non-profit really hit all the bases and did not focus on one issue, but somehow fit a bunch of them even though it was not very big. I have now worked with La Reserva on their board of directors for a year, and it has been a wonderful experience. I highly recommend anyone at all get involved with this non-profit since it is something that everyone can relate. It is a non-profit that you get immediate satisfaction knowing you are making a difference on earth.
My husband and I met the founder of La Reserva within 6 months of moving to Costa Rica and I knew immediately that Roberta was the “real deal”, as a mutual admirer so aptly once described her. The dedication of both Roberta Ward Smiley and Daniel Spreen Wilson to the native forests and its inhabitants is refreshingly sincere and their energy astounding. What they have accomplished on a shoestring budget is, by itself, a testament to their devotion to their cause. The ramifications of their accomplishments will not only restore habitat for the rainforest and its flaura/fauna, but provide desperately needed carbon absorption for the world’s floundering atmosphere. LRFF’s focus is remarkable; I just wish enough funding was available to make more of their dreams come true.
LRFF was founded in 2005 with a very simple but innovative idea. Let's get planting the world's native tropical forests to not only help increase wildlife habitat but to help with the even larger more urgent problem of climate change. I am the founder and president of LRFF (don't know if my review will be eligible) and have watched this organization grow from this win/win idea to actually planting over 10,000 native trees in 2009. We are already on our way to planting at least 100% more in 2010.