Wood

On the first view our property we had to climb over several large trees that had been cut down. Pieces of the trees were scattered in the middle of the internal road. As our work crew cleared trails they uncovered many, many trees that had been cut down and then abandoned. It appeared this happened several years ago. We have heard several stories about who cut the trees down and why they were left as insect fodder. I have heard so many varying stories about the same topic in Costa Rica, that at this point I consider everything to be a story. We’ll probably never know the truth about why these trees were cut and left to rot.

It is prohibited to cut trees over a certain girth in Costa Rica. I don’t recall the exact measurement, but it was on the small side, just several inches. Cutting trees larger than that requires obtaining permission from MINAE, the governmental agency that oversees water and tree resources among other things. We were sure these trees were cut down without permission which meant we had no permission to further process the trunks into lumber.

We obtained the proper application and submitted it to MINAE along with the required supporting documents. After waiting for more than a week we decided to go to their office to check the status of the application. It’s a good thing we stopped by because someone had determined, incorrectly, that our property was not in their jurisdiction and filed the folder in the metal file cabinet without contacting us. These types of clerical happenings are very common here… The office worker pulled the file and confirmed that in fact, our property actually was in their jurisdiction and all of the paperwork was complete.

The next day the MINAE official came to our property and toured the downed trees. His handy GPS determined that the trees cut down had been planted by someone in the past. They were not part of a natural forest that had been chopped. If that was the case we wouldn’t have been allowed to process the wood. He gave us the OK to process the trees into lumber for use on the property but not to sell them.

We hired a local that has the skills, permission and machinery to process the wood. The first step is to cut the trunks into square shapes. This should reduce the size enough to allow several men to be able to carry the wood out of the pasture, across the river and onto a truck. It will be brought near our living area so it can be cut to size and then laid to dry for several months. There’s a lot of wood out there, this will take several weeks to complete.

I love trees. It’s a pity these were cut down. Fortunately there are many, many more equally as large and beautiful specimens still thriving on our land. The first time I visited Costa Rica I was surprised to see that so much of the country’s canopy had been clear cut. It seems this is the growing trend worldwide. It is my desire that the trees on our property will outlive me and continue to provide Earth and her inhabitants with the elements necessary to live healthy lives.

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