Most experimental studies are in a hurry to produce results. Therefore, time is not by their side. However, an intriguing conservation experiment went through a lawsuit after which it was forgotten. Nonetheless, its authors returned to it after several years to observe any signs of change. What they discovered was a luxuriant forest instead of a wasteland with dying nature. The secret to this transformation seems to be dumped orange peels.
Within Six Months, the Dumped Orange Peels Formed a Rich Layer of Organic Fertilizer over the Wasteland
In the mid-1990s, a team of researchers enrolled in a mission to find a cure for wastelands. Such barren spots lost their regenerative powers for various reasons to grow a forest. Therefore, they started off by asking a juice company called Del Oro to select a barren pasture in Costa Rica as the site to unload 1,000 trucks of 12,000 tones of orange waste.
While Princeton researchers Winnie Hallwachs and Daniel Janzen received tons of raw materials for their research, the company paid nothing to discard its waste. The land measured 3 acres of barren soil with seldom green spots on it. However, the experiment didn’t manage to survive more than two years.
Within six months, the dumped orange peels turned into a thick layer of organic fertilizer that covered the entire wasteland. However, the site presented itself not so charming for human’s senses. The material was gross but perfect for fly larvae.
A Judge Ordered the Evacuation of the Site which Remained Unaltered for 15 Years
A lawsuit followed the experiment as the location was in the proximity of the Guanacaste Conservation Area. Del Oro donated this land to the national park. Therefore, rival juice manufacturer TicoFruit sued Del Oro for defiling a national park. The Supreme Court ruled to address these allegations.
As a consequence, the experiment fell into oblivion for 15 years. In 2013, another Princeton ecologist Timothy Treuer visited the location for other matters. However, the only problem he encountered was finding the former wasteland. In its place, there was a luxurious vine-filled jungle.
Treuer’s team compared the Costa Rica former wasteland to a nearby control area which didn’t receive the orange peel treatment. The differences were obvious. However, scientists have now a new quest. They need to find out what exactly caused the dumped orange peels to regenerate a barren land in just 16 years.
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