Conservation and Environment in Costa Rica: Monthly Updates
Costa Rica Conservation Monthly Update January-February 2014
Blue flag programme
We continue working to obtain the ecological blue flag for all the schools around the Barra Honda National Park. But what is the blue flag? The blue flag is a prize awarded by the Costa Rican government to schools that demonstrate environmental awareness and teach sustainable development and it is here that we at Projects Abroad participate by giving talks and workshops on nature and how to protect it.
It is also important to provide the schools with projects that the children can actively pursue and understand by a “hands-on” experience what environmental sustainability is. Currently we are setting up recycling plants at each of the schools and teaching children what materials can be recycled and into what! Further down the line we hope to set up larger projects with direct influence on the areas surrounding the park but it is important to gain the trust of the school authorities and the children who participate and so we must take things slowly at first. As their understanding of environmental issues develops both in the classroom and in practical exercises, we can hope to instil a greater understanding of what is required to obtain environmentally sustainable projects
We have great news resulting from our bat project this month as we switch the emphasis slightly. Bat species are very important distributors of seeds and in some cases the species of plant is unable to germinate unless the seeds have passed through the digestive system of a specific fruit-eating bat. Therefore it was proposed that we actively search for the guano, excrement of bats, to collect the seeds found. Whilst this sounds like an unpleasant job it is actually very rewarding to collect viable seeds and transfer them to our own plant nurseries.
The germination success of seeds collected from bat droppings is much higher. This project is important for several reasons, but primarily because we are not only able to reforest with plants found in the area but we are replacing fallen trees with species known to provide food to one of the most important groups of animals in the forest ecosystem- bats. The hope is to encourage the bats to stay in the area and continue to perform their vital functions as pollinators, dispersers and germinators.
Every Monday and Friday we continue our ornithology census of Barra Honda National Park and volunteers patrol the forest in search of birds. We perform our line transects and point surveys and this month we were amazed by a pair of red and green macaws (Ara chloroptera) flying over the park. We also added some new species to our ever growing list!
Unfortunately I have to give you some bad news as we suffered our first forest fire of the year. The start of the dry season makes controlling these fires much more difficult as there is so much dry leaf litter and dead timber on the ground. Park rangers and Projects Abroad staff fought valiantly against the flames in the waterfall area of the park. Let’s hope that I do not have to report on any more disasters like this over coming months.
Helping the swamp - Corral de Piedra
This month we helped out at the neighbouring “pantanal” Corral de Piedra. These areas are basically large swamps and they host a specific range of flora and fauna. There are very few places where we can still see the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), roseate spoonbill (Ajaja ajaja) and the jabiru stork (Jabiru mycteria). Our work was to help dam potential drainage channels that would leave the swamps with no water and drive away the wildlife. We are hopeful that we can continue to help in this area and in many other protected areas in the beautiful country that is Costa Rica.
I look forward to bringing you more news next month… until then!
Conservation Manager, Costa Rica