Looking at the pictures below, it really is hard to believe that this spectacular scenery of lush greenery used to be a bare deforested area. This truly amazing transformation is all thanks to the brilliant idea of ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs. Thanks to their wonderful idea, ecologists found a new discovery that would definitely benefit our nature!
The revolutionary discovery all started in the year 1997. Daniel and Winnie who are concerned with the environment bantered with a local orange juice company in Costa Rica. In their agreement, the local orange juice company was allowed to dump their discarded peels and pulp free of charge if they would give a part of completely unspoiled forested land to the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste.
After the contract has been signed in 1997, the local orange juice company dumped orange wastes on a piece of deforested land. A year later, thousand trucks came over and threw more than 12,000 metric tons of orange-compost onto the barren land.
The orange wastes were then left untouched for over a decade. The two ecologists created a huge symbol with a yellow lettering to mark the location where the orange wastes were dumped.
After 16 years, Janzen had a graduate student named Timothy Treuer take a look at the spot and report back with his findings. He gave him directions to the sign they created; there shouldn’t be any issues locating the plot.
Treuer went back to the land where the orange compost was dumped, but he couldn’t locate the sign anywhere. Timothy explored the place he was directed to go to for more than 30-minutes, unfortunately for some reason, he’s having trouble finding the yellow mark. In fact, Timothy called Janzen for more information regarding the place where the orange peels were dumped.
A week after, Timothy returned to try his luck once more in locating the place. However, the barren waste land was nowhere in sight. Yet, Janzen knew that he made no mistake while giving the specific directions. Hence, Timothy is standing right in the place he was asked to look for.
When Janzen and Timothy realized that they were looking at the correct piece of land, they were beyond surprised. Who wouldn’t be? After all, the place they were looking for that used to be filled with orange wastes now looks like a heavenly paradise!
“It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems,” Timothy said, expressing his disbelief.
Timothy and his team of researchers from Princeton University would explore the area and create a study about the incredible transformation for the next three years. Though the course of their study the environmentalist and researcher is already beyond amazed by what his team has learned.
On the neighboring side of what used to be an orange wasteland, is only one dominant species of tree. But on the land where the discarded orange peels and pulps were thrown, there are over two dozen species of thriving vegetation.
For some reason, the barren land that was used as a wasteland for orange peels and pulps transformed into a lush forest filled with strong and mighty trees. “You could have had 20 people climbing in that tree at once and it would have supported the weight no problem,” a researcher from Timothy’s team said. “That thing was massive.”
According to their research, a secondary forest growth, one that grows after its predecessor has been torn down, plays an integral role in slowing down the rapid climate change. The group of researchers from Princeton found out that secondary forest growth can absorb and store carbon in the atmosphere at 11 times the rate of what an old-growth could.
Thus they believe that replicating this experiment across continents holds a big potential in the healing and restoration of our world’s atmosphere. Most specially when about 50 percent of produce in the United States is thrown in landfills, adopting this experiment could transform another deforested area into a paradise as well.
“We don’t want companies to go out there willy-nilly just dumping their waste all over the place, but if it’s scientifically driven and restorationists are involved in addition to companies, this is something I think has really high potential,” Timothy clarified.
With our planet continuously warming up due to high concentration of carbon dioxide emitted from our daily living, air pollution is clouding our atmosphere. Learning about the effects of Janzen and Winnie’s idea just goes to show that there is still a way to save and restore our planet! What do we know, perhaps decades later, our planet would be transformed into a lush paradise once again!
Photos | Princeton Environmental Institute