Around the world
It is estimated that forests provide livelihoods for some 1.6 billion people across the globe, and subsistence for 60 million indigenous inhabitants. Complex forest ecosystems today cover nearly 30% of the Earth’s surface. They make incredibly efficient storehouses for biodiversity while sheltering more than two thirds of known species, and stocking an array of natural resources. Forested areas preserve watersheds, stabilize soil, and guard against erosion. The air we breath is purified by forests that sequester carbon with a natural system that helps to slow global warming.
Yet in November, 2005, figures released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN report the global rate of natural forest loss to be in the range of 13 million hectares each year… a vanishing expanse that the World Wildlife Fund computes as equivalent to 36 football fields per minute.
Land conversion for agriculture and livestock, developing infrastructure, ever-expanding urban development,illegal logging, mining interests, forest fires and climate change are among the perilous threats to forest ecosystems.
In Central America
To launch Reforest Teak, we searched for a relevant teakwood source and a manufacturing partner with a common mindset to help maximize growth and performance for our commercial, environmental and community goals. Our choice of Costa Rica was driven as much by the country’s historic need for land restoration as by the model that Costa Rica embodies today of progressive environmental sensitivity.
During the 1960s, Costa Rica’s deforestation rates were estimated to be the highest in the Western Hemisphere. Reacting to countrywide recession and massive foreign debt, Costa Rica cleared vast expanses of virgin forest to accommodate cattle ranching and become a major supplier to North America’s insatiable demand for low cost beef. The negative environmental impact was considerable. While Costa Rica’s beef exports showed a 500 percent increase over two decades, some studies estimate that abandoned cattle pastures currently comprise more than half of the country’s total land mass.
Still, in Costa Rica today, a country the size of West Virginia, 5% of the world’s biodiversity thrives, and a quarter of the country has official designation as protected lands and national parks. International aid and innovative “Debt for Nature Swaps” with conservation organizations have helped to forgive Costa Rica’s debt in exchange for the country’s promise of environmental preservation, an initiative that has placed Costa Rica among the world’s leaders in environmental land protection.
The oldest democracy in Latin America, Costa Rica has managed more than a century of progressive, representative government and peace, guaranteeing respect for human rights, private property, and social justice and equality before the law. With little sense of class elitism, a strong middle class prospers, while hard work and success are highly regarded. The healthcare system is considered by many to be the best in the region and, with more teachers than police, education is a top priority, obligatory and fully funded by the state. Undoubtedly, the country’s most impressive trademark of stability is the fact that Costa Rica has no army, having abolished their military force in 1949.
Our multi-species tropical hardwood plantations and manufacturing facility are presently based in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Before long, however, we plan to expand our efforts and operations to Honduras, a country troubled by debilitating rates of unemployment and widespread deforestation.