In 2013, we established the region’s first community-owned nature reserve. The Tree Bank Reserve protects about 45 acres and includes much of the headwater drainage of the principal water supply to La Berenjena, the little village in the center of Los Cerezos. About 24 acres of the property is currently forested. The remainder is disused pasture that will eventually be restored to forest.
The Reserve is owned by our partner association, the Asociación de Productores de Bosque, Los Cerezos, under an agreement with the Sangha, which funded the purchase of the land. The agreement permits only conservation activities within the Reserve. The Reserve is managed by the Sangha in partnership with the Association.
The Reserve is an important precedent for conservation because community ownership will likely ward off illegal slash-and-burn plantings, a common problem in government-owned parks in our region, and indeed throughout the forested tropics. A network of protected areas, some government-owned, some community-owned, may make it easier to manage this kind of encroachment — and to recreate a network of healthy forest.
Banner: A view from the deforested slope of the Tree Bank Nature Reserve. Photo by Chris Bright.