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The Finca Carpe Diem Tree Planting Project

Help to reforest and plant 10,000 trees in Paso del Mango, near Minca and Santa Marta

Finca Carpe Diem is a boutique-hostel, ecofarm and nature reserve in Paso del Mango, a beautiful village near Minca in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in the Northern part of Colombia (see map). Nele and Kobe, a young Belgian couple with two children Boris and Roxanne, run this project with the help of several locals.

Nele and Kobe believe it is possible to create a world in which people have comfort, dispose of internet and have nice food, but also care for nature. With the Carpe Diem Tree Planting Project they want to show how it is possible to make nature conservation really work in a local community in the tropics.

Nele and Boris just planted the first tree in Finca Carpe Diem - many more to follow

Nele and her son Boris just planted the first tree in Finca Carpe Diem – hopefully many more to follow 🙂

The Carpe Diem Tree Planting Project just began! In a first phase we aim at replinishing seven canyons and quebradas of Finca Carpe Diem with approximately 10.000 native tree species.  In a second phase we will plant a few hundred fruit trees and more native tree species in the degenerated parts that surround the Carpe Diem farm.

We welcome anybody who wants to learn about and help to conserve nature! If you want to lower your footprint, help to build up tree nursuries and plant trees, learn new skills, meet conservation-minded people, and explore the Colombian countryside and experience its beauty, then read through the information below and send us a message by filling out the form below.

Join us, lower your footprint and help out in the Tree Planting Project at Finca Carpe Diem!

Why reforesting  in Finca Carpe Diem, in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta?

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta boasts an extremely high level of diversity in habitats and a richness of species unseen in most of the natural world. It is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, making it one of the most important nature conservation areas of the world. Furthermore, this mountain range was called by a new study published in Science as the most irreplaceable nature reserve, according to a landmark analysis of every protected area on the planet.

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta protected area is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, making it one of the most important nature conservation areas of the world… the most irreplaceable nature reserve, according to a landmark analysis of every protected area on the planet.

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, one of the most important nature reserves on the globe, close to Paso del Mango

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, one of the most important nature reserves on the globe

The Manzanares river, home to beautiful waterfalls

The Manzanares river in Paso del Mango, home to beautiful waterfalls and fundamental for the survival of endemic fauna and flora

Carpe Diem appears as the garden of Eden, a green oasis that forms part of a corridor for a range of animal species, such as the famous jaguar, that travel between the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Tayrona national parks. Furthermore, the forests of Carpe Diem and Paso del Mango give birth to countless springs that all together form the basis of the Manzanares river, which is fundamental for the survival of the fauna and flora of the region, including endemic species. Also, the Manzanares river provides drinking water and food for great part of the Santa Marta population.

Today, the Sierra Nevada bio-cultural region is under serious threats and its forest lands have been cleared in recent decades for farming, cultivating of illicit crops, cattle grazing, mining, road building, etc.

 

Today, the Sierra Nevada bio-cultural region is under serious threats and its forest lands have been cleared in recent decades for farming, cultivating of illicit crops, cattle grazing, mining, road building, etc. This is exactly what is continuously happening in the surroundings of Minca and Paso del Mango. Unsustainable activities go on: every year hectares of forests are cleared for several reasons, including coffee cultivation and road building projects. In respect to Finca Carpe Diem, great part of its original forests have been cleared and converted in pasture for cattle growing. Today, cattle has gone, but have left some degraded lands.

Also, periods of extreme droughts have followed each other faster that usual. In recent years this has even resulted in several forest fires. It is difficult to define one sole reason – probably climate change and human destructive activities play a huge role – but it is fact that rainfall has decreased in recent years, and streams are drying out….Since Nele and Kobe arrived some five years ago, they have personally experienced that several sources have dried up.  People and neighbors are worried: is the desert taking control over our mountains?

Periods of extreme droughts have followed each other faster that usual. In recent years this has even resulted in several forest fires.

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Wetting the chainsaw to clear the forest – Paso del Mango

Forest fires in Paso del Mango - is the desert on the march?

Forest fires in Paso del Mango: is the desert on the march?

 


Gathering dirt to plant trees

Gathering a mix of dark earth and sand to fill up plastic bags for tree planting

Kobe and his son are digging holes for planting trees

 


The Carpe Diem tree planting project

The reforestation project is run by…

Father hiking with young son

Kobe, hiking with his son Boris

Nele and Roxanne

Nele and Roxanne

Jordi on one of our mules

Jordi on one of our mules

Kobe and Jordi will lead this reforestation project. Both have practical knowledge on nature conservation projects in the tropics. Kobe worked in the Belgian NGO Groenhart implementing small-scale reforestation projects mainly in Ecuador and Peru; he is also finalizing his PhD on natural resource-related conflicts in protected areas in Colombia. Jordi grew up in Caoba nature reserve, has worked there for years including setting up nurseries and planting and maintaining trees. Now the idea is to put our hands together and make this project work!

Everybody who joins the Carpe Diem Tree Planting Project will receive theoretical as well as practical guidance by Kobe and/or Jordi. As such, you are not only helping to conserve nature but you will also learn how to do it.

The Carpe Diem reforestation project…step by step

Below, we describe in short how we think to implement the Carpe Diem Tree Planting Project and plant over 10.000 trees.

The search for seeds

The first step is to search for seeds anywhere possible. Tree species we are going to plant include Caracoli, Algaroba, Merlina, Caoba, Ceiba, Cedro, Campano, Cacao Silvestre, Guayaba silvestre, Brasil, Hebano, Cañafisto, trebol, Jobo, bamboo, guamo.

Sadly, it is difficult or impossible to buy seeds from these tree species in the region. However, we know when trees flourish and the plan is simple: at the right moment look for their seeds on the ground below the trees…In this way we have already collected more than thousand seeds of different species; for other species we already found germinated seeds below the trees, so we also collected these and put them in plastic bags.

Saplings in a row

Saplings in a row

The tree planting project in Finca Carpe Diem just begun

The tree planting project in Finca Carpe Diem just begun

Germinating the seeds in plastic bags

Here it is important to be very carefully and water the seeds/small plants whenever necessary.

Clean the spots and make the holes

Between August and November 2016, right in the rainy season, we go to the canyons, forest and farm to do the real tree planting. The ideal is to plant all tree species all amongst each other at every five meters or so at both sides of the streams. We define the places to make holes and will clean a circle of 2 meters surrounding it.  Afterwards we take the plastic bags with the small trees up the mountain and plant them. At the same time we will also do the necessary cleaning around smaller and bigger trees that have spread out over the forest organically.

Maintenance

The first few years we will have to maintain the spots surrounding the planted trees clean, so they have space, air and light to grow. Every 3 months we will take the time and effort to go into the forest, look for the young trees and do the necessary cleaning.

Lower your footprint and help us plant trees

What you get for joining the Carpe Diem Tree Planting Project

  • A theoretical workshop behind the Finca Carpe Diem Tree Planting Project (2 hours). Kobe will outline the whole reforestation project, from showing seeds over detailing tree characteristics to explaining how to keep a forest healthy.
  • A practical workshop (2 hours): Jordi will take you on to the nurseries, and to the forest where the actual tree planting takes place. He will show you how to dig holes, how to carry the small trees, plant them and how to do the maintenance and keep the forest healthy.
  • You receive a guidebook with all important information included, so you have a souvenir and can start your own reforestation project at home  🙂
  • Three healthy meals per day (we accommodate vegans and vegetarians)
  • Healthy fruit and juice break in between tree planting time.
  • Enough time to relax and explore the surrounding jungle areas, such as Pozo del Amor and Santa Marta viewpoint.
  • Make use of our facilities, including WIFI, swimming pool and relax areas
  • Free water throughout the day
  • Learn Spanish by conversing and working with our local workers.
  • Options to have Spanish classes and participate in other activities, such as coffee growing and beekeeping.
  • A dormbed to sleep (private rooms are available with an extra cost).

A guanabana straight from the Carpe Diem Farm, a delicious fruit break in between planting trees

What is required of you for joining the Carpe Diem Tree Planting Project

  • Be ready to move around for four hours per day in morning times with a 30 min break in between
  • You must stay at least three days
  • Support to preserving the environment and help us pay basic costs for the workshops and reforesting the area with 30 USD or 80,000 pesos/day. There are discounts for people who stay longer periods (see also our volunteering section).

And that’s it! If all of the above checks out with you and you are interested to lower your footprint and support nature conservation or if you have any further questions, fill out the form below and we will get back to you promptly.

People who are interested in seeing what we are doing, please check our website for accommodation options and activities. We also accommodate people who want to learn basic skills on ecological farming and construction; on beekeeping and coffee harvesting.