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Conservation and Environment in Costa Rica: Monthly Updates

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Conservation in Costa Rica - Monthly Update December 2011

Volunteer painting

With the year coming to an end so quickly we are all sitting back and looking at what we have accomplished in 2011 and I think Barra Honda can honestly have its collective conscience wiped clean because we have accomplished A LOT!

The year has seen major improvements in the investigation projects, with Eduardo's help we have really lifted the level of work and the importance of the work to new levels and heights that are helping us to present detailed reports and make informed detailed evaluations and decisions on the future of the park.

With the Bat project for example, we have moved the study of this group so far forward that the government has placed them on the management plan for conservation in this area! We have identified new species, we have worked out the maximum number of tent making bats that one Panama tree branch can hold and roughly how long they would use them, we have expanded the Herpetofauna list by about 50% with the amazing work done by Macho and Coco.

We have continued our long task of identification of the park's butterfly species and the photos we get from the Sensor cameras and of course on top of all of this we have the maintenance work and all of the small investigations that happen every couple of weeks! During the course of the whole year we worked an amazing 3405 hours!

Every year in Barra Honda we take a day, to get as many people together as possible to have our Christmas party, we always try to get all the people who are involved in Barra Honda to come down and visit for the day so we can tell them how things have gone this year and what we have planned for next year. We say thank you to everyone for the work they have done and then we sit down and have huge amounts of food (most of which is donated by the various shops and markets that we buy from all the time) and we dance and have a good time!

This year our new food providers gave us an amazing amount of food. The supermarket gave us an entire pig and the vegetable seller gave us kilos of tomato, potato and onions! Needless to say we were eating various types of pig for days after and I would be more than happy to not see pork chops, bacon or Chicharones for another 6 months!

Christmas dinner

One of the other big projects we have managed to get started this month is the renovation of another cabina! The cabinas are the volunteer rooms, which have been around for many years and after such a long time they have started to look a little tired and worn. So we decided that a deep clean and fresh coat of paint and varnish was needed to improve the place. After starting to just clean the walls we quickly decided to wash the wooden ceiling as well and then move on to painting and varnishing everything. The other 2 rooms will get the same treatment in the next few months.

Another December job is taking part in the national bird count. Every year we try to take part in this mini census so that we can combine the work of many national parks to estimate the state of the bird population in Costa Rica. The reason why it is done during December is simple, the majority of bird species in Costa Rica (obviously depending where you are) are actually migratory birds, many of them are flying south from Canada, The United States and Mexico to find warmer temperatures for the winter. This is certainly what they manage to find around here!

The volunteers were split into 4 groups for this task and then we went on 3 hour walks around the area to view and identify as many species of bird as possible during this time. We saw hawks, flycatchers, vultures, hummingbirds, wrens and jays and even 1 new species for the list! A new species of hummingbird that we are hoping we can catch with a mist net for full confirmation in the next couple of weeks...so I hope I can update you on this very soon!

I just want to mention quickly the progress that has taken place with the football field. We have just been giving it maintenance for the last few months because there isn't really much more work to do on it. But we have managed to get a lot more people interested in using it. Currently every 2 weeks on Sundays we have 2 teams using it for official matches in the local league and we are also coordinating various activities with school groups, volunteers and the local Forest Fire fighting brigade so that all the work we have been putting into it over the last 3 years is actually paying off.

And finally, of course I want to thank each and every one of you! I honestly can't stress this enough, the work we do here in Barra Honda is only possible thanks to the hard work of every single volunteer that comes to stay with us, from the summer groups to the hard core veterans that stay for 6 months or longer. We cannot thank you all enough for this help and we are very happy and very excited about the work we can do for next year as well. Merry Christmas to all of you and I hope you have an amazing start to 2012.

Richard Munday
Conservation Coordinator
Barra Honda National Park
December 2011

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