Getting the Seeds
Seeds can be collected all around the island of Bonaire year-round. Depending on the tree, the seeds can be collected in many stages of ripeness. Some seeds will be viable when picked off the tree while still green, while some may be collected after they drop from the tree and dry on the ground.
Preparing the Seeds
Once the seeds have been collected, they must be prepared for planting. The method to prepare them differs between species and may involve removing the seed pod or coating as well as filing, soaking, or drying the seed.
Planting the Seeds
Once the seeds have been prepared, they are planted in small seed trays in Echo’s native plant nursery. The seeds are watered regularly until they sprout into seedlings and are ready for transplanting into pots. This may take a few weeks or a few months, depending on the species.
Transplanting the Seedlings
As the seedling grows, it must be replanted into a larger pot to allow for healthy root growth. The pot is filled with nutrient rich soil and the seedling is moved carefully into it without damaging the roots. With water and time, the seedling grows into a young tree.
Planting the Young Tree
Once the tree grows large enough in its pot, it will be moved to one of Echo’s reforestation areas around the island. A hole is dug, organic compost is added, and the tree is planted carefully without damaging the roots, to eventually grow as part of the new forest.
The new trees will be watered twice a week until they are established and new growth is present. The watering is then reduced to once a week until the trees can survive independently, which will take about a year.
Once the trees are established they will receive regular 'health checks' to monitor their growth and survival rates. This will not only identify trees that might be in need of additional TLC but also help develop adaptive management and best practices for future reforestation efforts.
In time, the planted trees will grow large and begin to produce seeds of their own. These seeds will then drop from the tree, be carried by animals, or fly away in the wind to regrow and restore the biodiversity of the forests of Bonaire.