Breadfuit as Food

What is breadfruit?

As its name suggests, breadfruit is a fruit that has the same texture as baked bread and it has what many call a potato-like flavor. Part of the Mulberry Tree family that originated in the South Pacific region, almost 300 years ago, this overlooked flowering tree has recently become a hot topic in discussing hunger, poverty and nutrition. With multiple health benefits and the nutritional value this fruit provides, breadfruit could be the next super food and staple.

History of Breadfruit

Originally from present-day New Guinea, breadfruit has been cultivated for over 300,000 years and was introduced to the Western world by British explorers like Captain James Cook and William Bligh. Each of them, on their respective voyages, began to transport and spread the breadfruit tree to tropical regions like the Caribbean. Once there, the trees were successfully introduced and planted, being able to produce the so desired fruit. In fact, there are places where you can still find some of the original trees cultivated over 200 years ago.


Where Breadfruit Grows?

Breadfruit has a wide range of adaptability to various environmental conditions within the tropics. The best conditions for growth is found in the tropics, where the temperature stays between a warm 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit year round. For example, in Costa Rica the fruit is commonly found along its Caribbean coast, from Tortuguero south through Limon, Cahuita, Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo which are all places that provide the best conditions for its growth. Also, it is locally known as “fruta de pan”. Breadfruit flourishes in areas where there is an annual rainfall of 59-118 inches and soil needs to be fertile, well-drained, and deep enough for optimal growth. However, some breadfruit plants somehow manage to adapt to the shallow, sandy soils of the Pacific. They have even been seen to grow on rocky, volcanic soils in Hawaii.



Nutritional Value

Breadfruit has many health benefits and holds more nutritional value than assumed. Eating this plant you get 102 calories. Within the flesh of the fruit it holds a decent amount of fiber, Vitamin-C, carbohydrates, is an excellent source of potassium, and even contains small amounts of flavonoid anti-oxidants.

Snacking on breadfruit can help reduce blood cholesterol, obesity, blood pressure, and helps regulate heart rate. When preparing ripe, or mature, breadfruit for consumption, it is recommended for the plant to be either roasted, baked, fried, or boiled! This is just to bring out the abundant flavors the plant provides. But, you don’t have to wait until the breadfruit has ripened to eat it. Immature fruits can also be cooked, pickled, or marinated, imparting a flavor similarly to that of artichoke hearts. Thinly slicing these fruits can even be fried or baked to make homemade chips. Yum!

As for the conservation context, the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) states that breadfruit also contributes to diversified sustainable agriculture and agroforestry, improved soil conditions and watersheds, and valuable environmental benefits including the reduction of CO2.

Will Breadfruit End Global Hunger?

According to the NTBG, more than 80% of the world’s hunger-stricken communities live in tropical, or subtropical, regions — the type of environment that is perfect for growing breadfruit trees. Organizations like Global Breadfruit and NTBG Breadfruit Institute are dedicated to promoting the super food and spreading it to areas of the world that need it most.

“Every time we plant one of these trees, we’re reducing the susceptibility to famine and starvation in the country where the tree is going,” said Josh Schneider a horticulturist and partner to Global Breadfruit.

Schneider has been working with the botanical scientists and the Breadfruit Institute in Hawaii to reproduce breadfruit trees and transport them to the areas that need the most help. The Trees That Feed Foundation, for example, is planting more breadfruit trees in Haiti in effort to feed at least 1,000 orphans every day. These trees are very easy to maintain and can bear an abundance of fruit for decades. Horticultural partnerships like these help with the outstanding and healthy shipping of young plants that within time will grow into productive trees. Altogether, these alliances surely contribute to the alleviation of hunger issues but also, and not less importantly, they make widespread cultivation and reforestation feasible.

It sounds like there is a hunger, environmental and conservation hero in our midst; so let’s start planting!



Osa Conservation featured by The New York Times!

Cats of the Osa

Osa Conservation has recently been featured in a New York Times article that highlights our Wildlife Monitoring Program.

Our extensive monitoring program captures images of wildlife and their prey in order to research their abundance within Corcovado National Park, Osa Conservation properties and other private landowners and partners in collaboration with the National University of Costa Rica (UNA).

These images tell a story; they helped bring to light that the estimated fifty jaguars (a 2005 estimation) that were found in the Osa Peninsula has dwindled down to between an estimated ten and twenty.

To get the full scoop, to read the full NYT article.


jaguar camera trap

<a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/travel/costa-rica-eco-tourism.html”>NYT Article</a>

For more information on our camera trap program visit our website: www.osaconservation.org  

If interested in donating, visit our donate page: www.osaconservation.org/donate/ 

Community Outreach, Uncategorized

Payment for Ecosystem Services: Conservation Incentive

What are Ecosystem Services?

The concept of ecosystem services was developed in order to express the value that nature has to people and the benefits we derive from it.

Types of Ecosystem Services

There are three types of ecosystem services:  direct services, indirect services, and cultural/aesthetic services.

Direct services are the resources that we directly benefit from extracting from nature.  Drinking water, timber, natural gas and oils, plants such as cotton, and numerous other plants for medicinal benefits.  We depend on these resources so heavily that it is unfathomable to think that we could live without inputs from nature.  The chair you sit in, the clothes you wear, and even the medicine you take in the morning probably comes directly from provisioning services.

Indirect services are the benefits provided by ecosystem processes that moderate natural phenomena.  Think of these services as the “unsung heroes” of  ecosystem services.  They are necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services.  For example, pollination, photosynthesis, decomposition, water purification, erosion, and even flood control.  These services maintain the natural ebbs and flows of ecosystems. While humans have, in past years, done a lot to influence these processes, they are overwhelmingly natural and our technology has not caught up to the scale that nature naturally produces.  Pollination is a great example.  Pollination is not only crucial to the reproduction of plants, but also impossible for humans to artificially create on the necessary scale.

Cultural services are the non-material benefits that contribute to the development and cultural advancement of people.   In other words, nature is beautiful–there is no price tag on the beauty of nature. Recreation, mental and physical health, tourism, aesthetic appreciation and inspiration for culture, art and design, spiritual experience and a sense of place are just a few aspects of nature that are central to the world as we know it.  While we cannot attach an accurate monetary value or economic impact to the depletion of this type of ecosystem services, it is important to understand that we must not leave a depleted world to the next generation.  

Ecosystem Services in Action

Ecosystems are by definition interconnected, codependent, and constantly evolving.  As a result, changes at any level of an ecosystem can lead to the collapse of the whole thing.  Because this can be hard to visualize, let’s take mangroves, an especially important ecosystem, as an example.  

The Mangrove is an immensely important type of tree that lines coastlines around the world.  Most plants cannot live where the mangroves do because of the constant pounding of waves, salt water, and often extreme winds.  However, mangroves have evolved to be ideal for this environment and actually thrive in these conditions.  As a result, they protect coastlines from erosion and have large, cage-like roots that serve as a nursery for many different species of marine organisms.  The mangroves provide a relatively safe, protected space for important species to lay their eggs or raise their young.  This means, that without the protection of the mangroves in the early stages of life, many of the marine species that we rely on for food such as some types of Grouper, Trout, Tarpon, and even Snapper would cease to exist.

Mangroves provide an indirect service to humans, supporting a variety of marine life that fill the bellies of millions around the world.  Despite this, people often destroy mangrove groves to develop the prime oceanfront land that they occupy–often for an oceanfront hotel or a shrimp farm.  In these cases, it is useful to have a monetary value assigned to the mangrove environment as a defense against “development” of the shoreline.  That way, the value of ecosystem services, both direct and indirect are taken into account.


What is Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES)?

Payments for ecosystem services (PES) are payments to farmers or landowners who have agreed to take certain actions to manage their land or watersheds to provide an ecological service.  The idea is that the payments assign a monetary value to the land that is for something other than the direct services and raw goods of the land.  As the payments provide incentives to landowners and managers, PES is a market-based mechanism, similar to subsidies and taxes, to encourage the conservation of natural resources.

PES in Costa Rica

Twenty years ago, Costa Rica began to pioneer programs that allow landowners to be paid for the value of the ecosystem services of their land.  This created an opportunity for landowners to earn an income while working to protect rainforests, conserve wildlife, regulate river flows, and store carbon.

Since 1997, nearly one million hectares of forest in Costa Rica has been part of these ‘payments for ecosystem services’ (PES) plans at one time or another. Meanwhile, forest cover has returned to over 50 per cent of the country’s land area, from a low of just over 20 per cent in the 1980s.

PES at Osa Conservation

Osa Conservation has been able to enroll some of our properties into this program and benefit from the country’s incentives to protect habitat. These funds allow us to pay key staff that patrol the land and ensure that there are no poachers, miners or loggers present. These same staff help us restore degraded land by collecting native tree seeds for germination, planting trees and maintaining the new tree plantings. PES does not cover all the costs associated with protecting the land in the Osa but it helps.

If you are interested in supporting our work, please donate.










Walk Through This Journey With Us: A Picture Narrative

Author/Photos: Janelle Cannon

Woke early one morning to join in on a sea turtle nest census. As our group walked the beach, I saw dozens of freshly
dug crab burrows.

crab borrows

These fast-moving crabs are digging machines!


Manuel, who works at Osa Conservation, has been monitoring sea turtle nests for 14 years.

The first nest we came upon had been pillaged by coatimundis.

turtle conservation

It was a thorough job.


Only one intact egg remained. Most nests contain 100-150 eggs, so these are treasure chests of delicious protein for
any hungry predator. Humans used to be the primary predator, but ongoing education for over one generation has
eased the pressure a bit. Poaching is not as common as it once was, allowing turtle populations to recover.

sea turtle egg

A fresh new nest, intact.

turtle nest

Mom’s tracks going back out to sea.

turtle tracks
As we moved on, we saw fresh raccoon tracks…

raccoon tracks2 raccoon tracks










…coatimundi tracks…

camoudi tracks


…vulture tracks…

vulture tracks

…raccoon AND vulture tracks…

vulture and raccoon tracks

…then in the distance we saw a full-scale nest robbery in progress by coati, black vulture and cara cara.

egg robery

As we approached, they persisted in digging and hunting.



egg robbery 4egg robbery 3egg robbery 2


They all fled when we got closer, leaving a scattered chaotic mess.

nest remains

Manuel searched for survivors, but there were none.


We went to the egg hatching shelter.

sea turtle shelter

Manuel shows the grid system which is how the eggs are reburied and spaced in such a way as to avoid possible
disease transmission, and to control temperature of the incubating eggs.

grid system

Eggs incubated in full sun hatch as mostly female, while those hatched in the cooler shaded half emerge mostly male.

grid system2

The spots with white bags contain eggs.

turtle eggs


The following morning I set out with three others, led by Osa Conservation’s Juan Carlos, cat specialist. I thought he looked a bit like a jaguar. He says that they have not seen jaguars in this area, but several pumas inhabit Osa. He sees ocelots on his rounds here, too.

juan carlos

This pathway goes near many stately primary growth trees.












This is a puma scratching near the trail. They clear away a spot and urinate on it to create territorial markers. We saw three on this trail.


Motion detecting cameras capture the passing of wild creatures.

camera trap

Near the end of the trail, a rain storm broke and we took shelter at another station. We sat with others in the ACT group
who were staying there, and watched the rain and listened to constantly rolling thunder.

CR storm

This hawk sat patiently in the drenching storm, seemingly not too uncomfortable. The sun eventually broke through,
and he began to shake off his rain-soaked feathers.


Steam rose from the forest as the temps soared as the sun’s rays beamed down.

steam rolling


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