Originally from Minnesota, USA, as a kid Ray always dreamed of great exploration and travelling the World. At 18 years of age, the day after his high school graduation, he said farewell to his hometown and embarked on a remarkable journey of labor, discovery and adventure throughout North America, Mexico and Central America.
From a very young age, Ray exhibited a strong interest and profound passion for social justice and environmental activism. Prior to founding Pura Jungla, he was deeply involved with non-profit NGO’s and was responsible for directing and managing volunteer initiatives in Central America. During these years, Ray was actively engaged in various socially responsible programs, such as projects to provide clean drinking water to small villages and the construction of bridges to connect remote rural communities.
These experiences were not only fulfilling and meaningful, they also implanted a profound understanding of the interconnectedness between social welfare and environmental well-being.
With his great love for nature and the environment deeply rooted in his core values, Ray was ready for the next chapter in his life.
The Birth Of Pura Jungla
A visionary and insightful man, at age 34, Ray encountered what was to become his life’s mission. He found an abandoned and devastated 100 hectares of cattle farm nestled near the village of Paraiso, Guanacaste, in northwestern Costa Rica. Deprived of life and afflicted by erosion, this deserted land presented itself as an extraordinary challenge. As he contemplated the territory, Ray had a vision and a dream that would forever transform the fate of this lifeless land.
And the journey began.
Inspired by the principles of permaculture, Ray employed techniques to give the earth proper nourishment and to promote the land’s vitality and resilience. These strategies included water conservation, soil building, and gathering vast amounts of organic matter to create compost. With devoted attention and focus, he carefully designed and crafted a nurturing environment for Mother Nature.
Life was reintroduced to the land. Eco-systems and micro-organisms started emerging and evolving at a pace that almost defied science. These miniature living sanctuaries were the foundation to what was to become Pura Jungla.
The Next Phase of Reforestation
Yet the greatest challenge remained: the planting of thousands of seedlings of native trees. Well aware of the vast importance of biodiversity and ecological niches, Ray meticulously selected and introduced very specific tree species benefiting nature and providing vital habitats for bees, birds, bats and other wildlife in need. In addition to assisting the natural order of things, this intentional approach was also focused on the urgent need to support and protect highly threatened and locally extinct species.
Obtaining the original native tree seeds was not an easy task, as not many native parent trees were present in the area. Some were even locally extinct and nowhere to be found in close proximity. Ray had to seek out parent native trees from other forests, as close to the newly acquired property as possible. Ray spent countless hours observing and patiently waiting under their canopies, anticipating that precise moment when the seeds would be ready for harvest. At times, he even slept beneath the branches, protecting the seeds from hungry birds and animals, so he could collect them at just the right time.
Imagine a vast open-air nursery, where tens of thousands of sprouting seedlings stood ready to be planted, marking the beginning of their new life as an authentic tropical deciduous forest. Ray’s determination and commitment even got the attention of MINAE, the Costa Rican government conservation department. Specifically, MINAE was interested in acquiring Ray’s indigenous seedlings for their own conservation projects.
Volunteers and members of the surrounding communities joined forces to help in this stage of the reforestation efforts. Together they planted hundreds of thousands of a wide variety of species, all of which stood as a symbol of hope for the forest’s revival.
Mother Nature was provided with the necessary resources and environment to rebuild and restore her natural domain. As time passed, she successfully prevailed, and Pura Jungla emerged as a thriving and flourishing tropical forest.
The Fruits of a Labor of Love
We, as human beings, are an intricate part of nature. Our actions and choices have an undeniable impact on the environment. By serving and attending Mother Nature in a balanced, loving way, she graces us with her magic and wonder. Pura Jungla is one of these proven miracles.
This ongoing care and dedication continues. In addition, there are other pressing responsibilities, such as the prevention and control of forest fires and efforts to thwart poachers on the property.
The beauty, richness and magnificence of Pura Jungla reach far beyond this labor of love.
As Ray is preparing for yet another new chapter in his life, he leaves a legacy not only with the Pura Jungla Eco-Community, but also with the next generations who will be watching over Pura Jungla one day.