Proyecto Raíces

Proyecto Raíces: +Bosques Urbanos

Belen, Costa RicaBelen, Costa Rica
Year Founded:
2009
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

This initiative is about to bring nature back to the city. There will be a significant improvement of the urban environment and public health if we apply restoration ecology principles in the management of urban areas to create large ecological connectivity networks and conservate biodiversity

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could influence and participate in public policies and educate people to change the way natural areas are managed within urban ecosystems?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Urbanism and arquitecture contribute to the main cause of biodiversity extinction worldwide: habitat destruction. The second cause is the introduction of exotic invasive plants into ecosystems. In this order, Costa Rica doesn't have a biodiversity conservation strategy for territory outside wildlife protected areas. On the other hand nowadays landscaping focuses just in creating decorative green areas resulting in ecologically dysfunctional areas

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We will be a team of professionals that will offer consultancies to local governments and companies about how to design plans for integrated management of green areas, based on technical and scientific criteria, in order to meet both human and ecological needs, and increase urban natural areas. Also, we want to support community organizations by developing Environmental Education programs, in order to raise awarness, improve knowledge and train environmental leaders to create and maintain ecologically functional and productive (food) areas in their own gardens and communal spaces. A crucial component of this initiative is to start growing native flora in nursery, since there isn't supply in the national gardening nor landscaping market.

Awards

Acknowledgement from the City of Belen (Heredia, Costa Rica)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A difference will be made when we approach decisionmakers with a plan that authentically involves community during the whole process. By doing this we get to know neighbor's needs and interests and put them in a design that will change their environment, and consequently public spaces will be better utilized. Workshops, trainings, field trips, and voluntary work are some methologies that could be applied in our projects. This automatically promotes local identity and a sense of belonging. These processes will support the management of local governments. This way we make sure to act according the local urbanism and public space regulations. The main objective is to educate people about the importance of increase biodiversity in our cities.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Cities are ecosystems too, and so the objective is to increase benefits from ecosystemic services, as improve urban environment, beings' health, creating sustainable cities and biodiversity friendly. Impact will be measured by three different categories: social, ecological, and architectural indicators; a previous diagnosis will be required for the first two. Social indicators are related with number of environmental leaders we train in communities each project, number of visitors (and satisfaction) onsite after each project, and amount of entities (local governments, companies, community organizations) we work with per year. Ecological has to do with monitoring flora and fauna populations to determine behaviors (increase, decrease, new populations). Architectural indicators are related to quantity of squared meters we intervene per year.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Public-Private association is key for this initiative to success in the long term. The strategy consists in prioritize a three local governments to work with per year (ideally those within the same watershed, for ecological connectivity), evaluate their social and economical context and identify potential partner companies. Potential site(s) to intervene are identified and proposed to decisionmakers. Once site is determined (either micro, medium or macro scale), a draft project with budget is presented to potential partner companies.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

In the first place, aspire to become a consultant group and offer services related with the topics mentioned before. In terms of specific projects with local governments, we pretend to finance them with donations. Also, we will offer private projects. Finally, sellings products from the plants nursery will contribute with the sustainability of the initiative.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are important landscaping companies, but they work with large private profit tourism or residential projects, not with social approach. Also, there are several social initiatives promoting communal edible gardens in urban areas; this is a component of our projects's integral vision so these are potential partners. There a few groups working restoration ecology, as well. It's crucial to establish common objectives in a macro scale. In terms of the nursery we are planning to established, there are plenty of nurseries in Costa Rica, but most of offered plants are exotics.
Team

Founding Story

This idea has been evolving since 2009, born inspired in a Conservation Association that restores coastal ecosystems. At that moment I realized that young people in my community could start something similar. It started as a youth community volunteer group interested in, primarly, reforest natural areas in our urban hometown. During all this time we have done small projects intended to promote environmental awarness, arts and recreation, supported by a local organization and local government. After years of volunteer work and noticing that restoration ecology in cities has big potential, this year I realized that we could maximize our impact by evolving to a social entrepreneurship.

Team

The team is composed just by part-time volunteers. There is a person in charge of communications, specifically audiovisuals. Another person supports and advices about management and finances, also is an artist. And finally, we have an arquitect. In the future the team will require a biologist, a person for public relations and community manager, someone in charge of foundraising, and a person in charge of the nursery.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

I read about it in a local online newspaper.

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Zero Hunger, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Raíces Belén is the first initiative I started back in 2009, a group of young volunteers.
In 2012 I became cofounder of the Peña Cultural Belemita, a initiative intended to create cultural spaces in different communities.
Last year, in 2014, we founded the Red Natural Belemita, a local network intended to build contacts within and outside our hometown in order to increase awarness about environmental cutting-edge issues. We started the first Eco-Market.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

I work with La Asuncion Integral Community Development Association, a local NGO that supports our initiatives.
Recently, we formed a students network at my university (UNED, Costa Rica) to develope urban restoration ecology projects. By the end of november we will having a workshop presenting our experiences in the field.