– Reforestation Project -
On behalf of the Public Entity Bonaire (OLB), the foundation, Echo, will conduct a reforestation project on Bonaire. The project includes 10 areas. Each area is about 1 hectare and will be chosen with care. Over the next 3 years, Echo will plant 20,000 native trees in total.
Photo: Lauren and Nathan, Echo’s managing couple
Having grown faster than expected, there are now 9,000 native trees in Echo’s nursery at Dos Pos that are ready to be planted. That’s almost half of the total number of 20,000 trees needed for the reforestation project.
In collaboration with STINAPA, the work has already begun in Washington Park. Tolo and Brasil followed soon after. The other location that will be reforested during the end of this year, or early next year, is Seru Largu. The remaining locations are still to be decided. Each area will be fenced to prevent goats, donkeys and pigs from eating the saplings.
Besides restoring the forest, Echo will also raise awareness about the fragility and importance of the dry tropical forest on the island.
Because of Bonaire's warm dry climate and rocky conditions, the natural development of plants is often slow. Reforestation projects can lend a hand. More trees mean that their roots can better hold the soil during strong downpours. Leaf litter builds up fertile soil and allows the soil to absorb more water so the trees grow better, producing the oxygen that humans and animals need to breathe. Trees also collect dust, harmful gases and nutrients from the air. They are important because they give us shade, in addition to providing shelter and food for animals. For example, the Lora could find their food in nature and would not have to plunder gardens and farms any longer.
During mid-September, the Dutch army assisted Echo with the construction of the fences. As soon as the rainy season gets under way, the trees can be planted in the fenced areas.
Lauren and Nathan, Echo’s managing couple, want to thank everyone who supported or volunteered with the project, not only those here on the island but worldwide. “It is incredible that people come here and give their time and effort, we met so many lovely people,” Nathan stated. It is a very ambitious project and it will need time and patience, and more importantly, all the help possible!
If you are able to support or volunteer, your help is extremely appreciated.
E mail: email@example.com
Phone: +599 701-1188.
Echo Parrots and People
The Echo Foundation is conserving the endangered yellow shouldered Amazon parrot, Lora, of Bonaire through conservation management, local community engagement and research.
Echo’s goal is to ensure the stable and growing population of the yellow shouldered Amazon parrot, Lora. They hope to achieve this by:
- Reducing the poaching of chicks for the local and international pet trade.
- Restoring the dry forest habitat that the parrots call home.
- Reducing habitat degradation by donkeys, goats and pigs.
Achievements and impact
- Rehabilitation and release back into the wild of over 50 yellow shouldered Amazon parrots who were either kept as illegal pets or injured.
- Release and rehabilitation of over a hundred brown throated parakeets.
- Establishment of an exclusion area that keeps invasive donkeys, goats and pigs out of the protected land where they have planted over 400 trees.
- In 2014, the start of a native plant nursery to grow seedlings of the trees that once thrived on Bonaire. In 2016, the nursery was doubled in size to allow for the growth of up to 10,000 trees.
- Removing feral pigs, which are an invasive species and damage native habitat.
- At the end of 2015, the reforestation and pig control work became funded by the Dutch Ministry of economic affairs and the island government.
- Echo provides trees to STINAPA, Bonaire’s National Park authority, to plant in Washington Park and on the island of Klein Bonaire to support reforestation of those areas.
- In past years, Echo has provided nest boxes for wild parrots.
Dr. Sam Williams is a passionate and dedicated parrot conservationist. He first visited the yellow shoulder Amazon parrot on Bonaire in 2003. After completing his PhD, Sam established Echo. Its aim is to address the conservation challenges facing the parrots of Bonaire.
Lauren Schmalz oversees the on-site management of Echo.
Lauren completed a Bachelor’s Degree in biology and Spanish and a Master’s Degree in environmental studies. She is currently pursuing a Masters in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management. Since first meeting Sam on Bonaire in 2009, Lauren began contributing to the development of Echo which ultimately led to her current role.
Nathan Schmalz moved to Bonaire with his wife, Lauren, to help manage Echo’s operations and conservation work. Nathan has a Bachelor’s Degree in history and a Master’s Degree in library and information science. Nathan’s Master’s Degree may seem far removed from Echo’s work on the ground, but his skills at researching questions and solving problems have helped him to quickly learn how to handle the day by day tasks of Echo, including carpentry, electricity and plumbing.
Sam, who is currently in Costa Rica as the director of a project focusing on the reintroduction of tree species, is still actively involved at Echo Bonaire and assists Lauren frequently.
Laura and Nathan and a group of volunteers live on site using solar power, dry composting toilets and water tanks. Dos Pos, a family owned property, has been made available to Echo on a long lease contract. Nathan and Lauren had been talking about wanting to live a more minimalistic life and have a lower impact on the environment prior to taking their current management positions. Echo and its situation seemed to be the perfect fit to experience this new personal adventure. In the beginning it was hard to adjust, but both of them are very happy with their decision and have been learning a lot about themselves and each other. Most important, they have learned to work together in making Echo a continuing success.