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How Trucks Full Of Orange Peels Helped Regrow Costa Rica's Forest

By Nicole Caldwell

If you’ve ever had doubts about how compost can transform your garden, look no further than the illuminating tale of how a bunch of orange rinds revived a Costa Rican forest. That study—which spans two decades and involves a Supreme Court lawsuit, a juice company, and some intrepid researchers—provides deep insights into how we might resolve billions of acres of deforestation worldwide. It might just inspire you to go out and get a compost bucket for your own kitchen counter. 

It all started with a navel idea. 

Juice company Del Oro was just two years old when UPenn ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs came a-knocking in 1996. The husband-and-wife duo had come up with a novel idea.

If Del Oro, which had recently started production on the northern border of world heritage site Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) donated part of its forested land to the conservation, the company could dump its orange peel waste on deforested parkland at no cost. The offer was one Janzen and Hallwachs had settled on after working with the ACG for years and turning over all kinds of harebrained reforestation ideas for barren lands within the park.