Guanacaste Community Fund
Conservation and Production
UNAFOR Chorotega is the Guanacaste Chapter of the National Agroforestry Union, which aggregates grassroots farmer and agroforestry associations throughout the country, and is also affiliated with the Ibero-American Model Forest Network. UNAFOR Chorotega is based in the community of Hojancha, which has been a leader in Guanacaste in the areas of reforestation, conservation and sustainable agriculture. In its work, UNAFOR Chorotega coordinates with a wide range of local, national and international organizations, both public and private.
UNAFOR Chorotega has been a very active partner of the Guanacaste Community Fund, which has provided support for several projects. These included a matching grant with CRUSA Foundation Funds to strengthen the organization, and another to support wildfire brigades. With funds from the Harmony Donor Advised Fund, the GCF has also supported the UNAFOR’s work with the Municipality of Hojancha to develop a community botanical garden.
UNAFOR is also an active participant in the Rio Nosara Biological Corridor Project, particularly in the area of sustainable production.
- 26 partners form UNAFOR’s assembly
- 7 legal associations are part of the assembly
- 6 projects carried out since founding
- UNAFOR is part of a 3 inter-institutional space of regional coordination (COSEL, CCI and regional agricultural joint forum)
Eloy Mendez, Director
Wildfire Prevention and Natural Resource Conservation
The Foundation for the Protection of Nature in Guanacaste (FUNDECONGO), based in Santa Cruz, works to promote conservation and sustainable development on the Nicoya Peninsula by implementing programs of environmental education, support for protected areas, helping volunteer wildfire brigades and proving technical and financial assistance to landowners interested in protecting the natural resources on their lands.
FUNDECONGO was founded in 2004, and most of its members have more than 15 years of field experience working to prevent and control wildfires. The Guanacaste Community Fund is supporting FUNDECONGO’s efforts to strengthen the volunteer wildfire brigade of San Juan de Santa Cruz, who work within and in the buffer zone of Diriá National Park.
Luis Castillo, Director
Restoring Our Watershed
Greening the Nandamojo
The Asociación para la protección de la cuenca del río Nandamojo, also known in the área between Junquillal and 27 de Abril de Santa Cruz as Restoring our Watershed, or ROW, is a non-profit organization that has been active in the Nandamojo River Valley of Guanacaste, Costa Rica since 2001. ROW is working to create a “green valley” with a healthy ecosystem and abundant opportunities for people to live and prosper. The efforts are focused in two areas: 1) Reclaiming the health and resiliency of natural areas identified as critically damaged or threatened (about 5-10% of the watershed), and 2) Reinvigorating local, sustainable food production to create green jobs.
A signature project of ROW is its “Bees for Trees” initiative, whereby it works with families to help them become expert beekeepers and stewards of their land. The excellent honey they produce is marketed in hotels along the Guanacaste coast and in the central valley.
The Guanacaste Community Fund has supported ROW with two matching grants. The first was to work with landowners to implement erosion control measures on their lands and, more recently, to expand a forested biological corridor along a portion of the banks of the Rio Nandamojo. The GCF is also partnering with the Rio Nandamojo Donor Advised Fund to sponsor a series of hands-on symposiums for landowners to share knowledge and experience in sustainable farming and erosion control.
- 8,000 saplings planted
- Helped 6 watershed families increase their incomes through beekeeping. The honey company established by ROW is on track to collect $20,000 in honey in 2015
- Planted 2km of water-harvesting contour line barriers
Matt Rosensteele, Executive Director
Asociación Playa Hermosa
The Playa Hermosa Association is a volunteer organization comprised of residents and businesses of Playa Hermosa, on the northern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. It works in many areas, including helping improve the condition of local roads and bridges, protecting the local population of monkeys, working to build an artificial reef, promoting recycling, helping residents voice their concerns to the local government, and supporting education, recreation and the arts.
With the help of the Guanacaste Community Fund, donations from residents and the business communities, and logistical help from Asociación Creciendo Juntos and the Ministry of Public Education, the Playa Hermosa Association recently led an effort to rescue the local school (which had been closed), by greatly improving the facilities, including the construction of a new classroom.
Silvia LaFerriere, Director
Restoring Coastal Ecosystems
Costas Verdes is a nonprofit organization founded in 2008 to conserve and restore coastal ecosystems on public lands, including protected areas, publicly owned portions of beaches, mangroves, riverbanks and wetlands.
Costas Verdes believes that the active participation of local communities in these activities and environmental education is vital in these processes. To this end, Costa Verdes involves schoolchildren in its activities, and organizes workshops in local schools and communities. In most cases its activities are supported by local businesses, which donate funds, materials and the time of their workers. Students from the country’s universities as well as international visitors also volunteer their time.
Costas Verdes also establishes nurseries in coastal communities with the support of local families, schools and businesses, which provide the plants and trees necessary for its work. Costas Verdes receives support from public agencies such as the National System of Conservation Areas and the Ministry of the Environment and Energy.
The GCF, with resources from the Harmony and CRUSA Donor Advised Funds, has supported Costas Verde’s Barrigona beach forest restoration project in Nosara, as well as outreach to public schools in the Nosara Area. Costa Verdes is also a local partner in the Rio Nosara Biological Corridor Initiative.
- 6,500 trees have been planted since 2011 when the project started in Nosara
- 20 different species of native trees has been chosen to restore the forest near the beach
- 4 acres are being restored with native species in the Barriguiones project
Gerardo Bolaños, Coordinator of Barriguiones Project