The RIESTER Reserve is a riparian conservation program located within Islita Reserve, a Costa Rica development located in the Provincia de Guanacaste, Canton de Nandeyure, Distrito de Bejuco. Supported by the RIESTER Foundation, the conservation effort focuses on habitat restoration for native flora and fauna, reforestation and a plant nursery of native Costa Rican trees. The program is the manifestation of RIESTER’s concern for this planet’s natural resources, particularly the depletion of habitat that is essential to sustaining threatened species.
January is the beginning of the dry season at the RIESTER Reserve in Costa Rica. The rainforest is blooming with brilliant yellow and red flowers. Large streams are beginning to dry up and local animals collect around the small springs and pools that remain.
RIESTER Foundation President Gary Kaasa and his wife Connie visited Islita Reserve this winter and have recently returned with exciting updates on recent reforestation efforts by Reserve caretaker Norman Quiros.
“Since my last visit in June, Norman has planted 400 cacao trees in shaded areas on the Reserve property,” Kaasa said. “Most will survive the summer dry season, and in a number of years the plants will be ready to produce cacao seeds for chocolate and cocoa,” he said. Besides being a haven for the native habitat, Kaasa said the cacao produced by the trees will also aid in the long-term sustainability of the reforestation effort and that the RIESTER Foundation will work with Quiros on a marketing plan to promote the cacao.
Kaasa was very excited to see new life at the Reserve.
“We saw seven Scarlet Macaws flying over the property,” Kaasa said. “Norman planted 60 Almendro trees to attract macaws from a release site near the Reserve.” Kaasa said no macaws have been seen landing on the Reserve, but flying over is “an important development.”
“When the Almendro trees become mature, the macaws will be enticed to land and enjoy the almond nuts produced by the Almendro trees,” said Kaasa. “Macaws are crazy about almonds,” he said.
Besides spying an armadillo indigenous to the area, Kaasa and Quiros heard the echoes of Howler monkeys in the nearby trees and saw a lone Capuchin monkey – an unusual sighting as the small white-faced monkey usually travels in troops.
Kaasa said probably the most exciting sighting was when he spotted two coatimundis, or “coatis,” high in a tree at sunrise one morning.
“Coatis look like a cross between a raccoon and a large house cat and are similar in size,” Kaasa said. “They sleep high up in the trees safely away from local predators. Once the sun came up, we watched them climb down and begin their day.”
At RIESTER, we are thankful that we are able to maintain the Foundation and support efforts like Islita Reserve. None of it would be possible without the people we serve each and every day. Thank you.