Dead Balsa

The lighting in this picture is poor because it was taken very early in the morning. If you click on the picture you can see a larger version. Look closely and you will see a man near the top of a dead balsa tree. Mario made us aware that this tree had died and that we should take it down before the wind snaps it and it falls on one of the nearby structures. How does one in Costa Rica chop down a tree that needs to fall in a very precise area? The method chosen here was to climb the tree and chop all of the branches with a machete. I took this picture because I was surprised at how far up the tree this guy climbed. The tree must have been at least 70 feet tall. He had no fear climbing the tree without safety gear, perching himself on a limb as he chopped other nearby branches. Once that was done he climbed back down and manually chopped sections of the trunk. After he did all he could with the machete then the chain saw was employed to finish the job. The wood will be turned into sawdust for the chicken coop.

I have learned that balsa trees are a pioneer species. They fill in gaps in the forest by growing large very fast. An old balsa tree lives for about 30 years before dying and making way for more long lived trees that hopefully grew up around it. I now know to watch very carefully for where these trees choose to germinate. It's much easier to take them out when they are small then large like this one was.

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