Part of these initiatives has included the establishment of a native plant nursery for seedling propagation. The trees of Bonaire can be grown in multiple ways. In Echo’s nurseries, the main method is to germinate seeds. Seeds are collected from various areas of the island at all times of the year. Many of the seeds collected must be prepared in some way for planting. Once the seeds are prepared, they are planted into seeding soil that is mixed on site. In a few weeks to a few months, depending on the tree species, the small seedling can be planted out into a larger pot that is full of nutrient rich soil, also mixed on site. Trees on Bonaire tend to grow long, deep roots so this must also be considered when planting seedlings into pots. Deep pots are used whenever possible and no pots are kept directly on the ground, so that the roots of the tree cannot grow into the ground and make it impossible to move the plant without damaging the roots.
If there is a tree species that tends to not grow well from seeds, other propagation methods can be used. Some trees on the island can be grown from cuttings, which involves taking a section of a branch and planting it directly into a pot. If it is kept moist, the section of branch will sprout roots and leaves, creating a genetic clone of the tree it was collected from. Echo’s nurseries include a mist house with a timed sprinkler to ensure that these cuttings receive enough water and stay wet enough to survive. Another method of propagation is digging up and collecting small seedlings that are found naturally growing on the island. This method is only practiced in areas where it is fairly certain that goats or other herbivores will eat the seedling, and that the protection of the plant in our nurseries is its greatest chance of survival. No matter what method of propagation is used, the plants will receive daily water for 6 months to a year, until they are ready to be planted out into one of Echo’s reforestation areas.