In 1997 ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs proposed a startling idea to one Orange Juice company in Costa Rica…

A wise professor once said “When you throw your banana peels, or orange peels in the grass, and a cop passes and wants to charge you a pollution ticket, you sent him directly to me.”

Here’s what happened to the National Park!

Truly Unbelievable Story!

The Área de Conservación Guanacaste, which is a nature preserve in the country’s northwest, received a portion of unspoiled, forested land as a donation from one orange company. In return, they authorized the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

This deforested area turned into “orange hills” after a thousand trucks dumped 12.000 metric tons of discarded orange compost onto it a year later.

The first deposit of orange peels in 1996. Photo by Dan Janzen.

The area where the orange compost was spilled was marked with a huge sign so as to facilitate finding its exact location.

Once the orange peels and pulp were dumped onto this area, no one went to examine it for a whole decade.

Sixteen years have passed, until finally Daniel Janzen sent a graduate student Timothy Treuer to search for the area and find its location. However, this was not an easy task and at first Timothy didn’t succeed in finding it.

Timothy recalls saying: “It’s a huge sign, bright yellow lettering. We should have been able to see it.”

Realizing that they need help, Timothy reached out to Janzen and asked for more detailed location.

After a week, when he returned and confirmed that he was in the exact place, he was startled!

The site of the orange peel deposit (L) and adjacent pastureland (R). Photo by Leland Werden.

As Timothy explains, “It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems.”

Vegetation overwhelmed the place making it difficult for him to locate the sign.

During the following three years, Treuer, together with several Princeton University researchers, carried out a thorough study on the area and its vegetation.

The study’s findings were later published in the journal “Restoration Ecology” and helped depict the incredible power of the discarded fruit parts in transforming the area to the extent that it became unrecognizable.

The team of ecologists evaluated a wide range of qualities of the site and compared them to the ones possessed by a region of former pastureland right across the access road used to dispose of the orange compost about two decades ago. Continue on next page….

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