LAPA Update Spring 2017

Hurricane Otto hit Costa Rica in late 2016, having a strong impact on the Caribbean and south Pacific communities of Costa Rica. The category 3 hurricane was the first hurricane to touch Costa Rican territory and the only time a storm has been observed crossing the country from coast to coast. In its wake, Otto left 23 isolated communities, 4000 displaced people and more than 10,000 people impacted. The impact on LAPA’s plot was significant. Heavy rains caused the loss of a considerable number of plants, a necessitating measures of restoration and prevention in order to avoid similar damages in the future.

During the first months of 2017, the LAPA team has focused its efforts on the construction of canals to reduce the risk of flooding, the replacement of the damaged plants and the evaluation of the impacts of the hurricane and the dry summer that followed. With the first rains of April, a very important phase of the project began: the grafting of cacao. The host plants that are already the right size are being grafted with an improved variety, which has a greater disease resistance and a higher productivity. Additionally, in the following weeks we will be planting a timber species in the experimental plots, thus completing the basic design of the diversified palm experiment.

As of February, the oil palm laboratory has a new member. Hansel Herrera is a young biologist, native to the Tilarán Mountain range, located at northwest of Costa Rica. Hansel joins the LAPA team with the aim of starting the monitoring of biodiversity and development of other investigations of interests for LAPA. Among the main studies to be carried out are an analysis of abundance and composition of small mammals and arthropods, a comparative analysis of soils, as well as the income estimation obtained through accompanying species (banana and cacao) in diversified oil palm plantations.