Ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs had an idea for a local orange juice company in Costa Rica. They had no idea that this idea would turn into a huge and significant discovery. It all started back in 1997.
The pair approached an orange juice company and proposed to them the idea that if they donated a piece of unspoiled, forested land to the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, they could dump their discarded peels and pulp free of charge.
Once the company agreed, the piece of land where orange juice waste would be dumped was grazed and deforested. A year later, thousands of trucks showed up and dumped over 12,000 metric tons of orange compost.
Once the orange peels and pulp were dropped onto the land, they were kept there, untouched, for over a decade. The ecologists created a nice big sign to mark the location.
16 years later, a graduate student name Timothy Treuer was to go visit the spot and report back with his findings.
He was given detailed directions to find the sign that was created and there should’ve been no issue locating the spot.
Once Treuer arrived at the land, he began searching for the sign where the orange compost was dumped, but couldn’t seem to find it anywhere.
Treuer walked around for about 30 minutes, according to Shareably, but couldn’t find the spot that Janzen told him to locate. He came back a week later to the exact spot that Janzen elaborated on.
Still, he couldn’t see the sign even though he knew that this was the area they had the company dump on so many years ago.
When they realized it was the correct plot of land, they were shocked. It looked nothing like the surrounding area. Treuer noted that the difference was like “night and day”.
According to Shareably, he said, “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”.
Their findings were published, showing the extent that the discarded fruit helped with the new forest growth. It really is incredible.
The new area will be studied for the next three years by Treuer and his Princeton team. They saw that in the area right next to the orange peels, there were only one dominant species of tree.
On the side with the orange peels, there were actually over two dozen species of thriving vegetation. Better soil, healthier forest canopy, large, strong trees and a new species of weasels had appeared.
The most crucial discovery was that secondary forest growth is crucial for slowing down climate change. According to Shareably, new-growth forests store carbon at 11 times the rate of an old-growth forest. That’s crazy!