All posts by maxd

The Most Precious Resource: Conservation Efforts in Costa Rica and Panama

                   The forested region within Costa Rica and parts of Nicaragua and Panama are some of the most biodiverse on the planet. Home to many species of flora and fauna not only unique to the area, but to the rest of the world. Species such as the strawberry poison dart frog, golden orb weaver, three toed sloth and many more beautiful creatures can be found within the biomes of this region. Unfortunately for the creatures of this region, they inhabit an incredibly turbulent and unstable region of the world. The country of Costa Rica has a GDP per capita of 11,630.67 USD compared to the United States’ 59,531.66 USD. This, naturally, means that the local populations of these nations are less inclined to think about the well being of the creatures around them. Crime rates in these countries have risen dramatically; it was reported that in 2015, Costa Rica experienced a murder rate of 11.5 per 100,000 people (compred to the US’ 3.5 per 100,000 people). Because of the social issues affecting the region, the local authorities have turned to NGOs (non-government organizations) to help encourage locals to be more environmentally conscious and aware. Most NGO’s in the area have some financial backing or educational program that keeps the organization afloat.
                     One such organization is the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project based in the town of El Valle de Anton, Panama. Created as a partnership between The New England Zoo, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the Houston Zoo, the Smithsonian National Zoo, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Defenders of Wildlife, the mission of the organization is to rescue and establish sustainable assurance colonies of amphibian species that are in extreme danger of extinction throughout Panama and the greater Central American area. They also focus their efforts on developing methodologies to reduce the impact of the amphibian chytrid fungus which ravishes the amphibian population in these areas, along with training locals on veterinary, environmental and sustainability techniques.
                    Other organizations that promote the conservation of animals in the Central American countries of Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua are; the Association of Volunteers for Service in Protected Areas (ASVoCR), the Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary and Penjamo Community Wildlife Refuge, The Cloudbridge Nature Reserve and Corredor Biologico just to name a few Each one of these organizations have taken steps to encourage the preservation of nature in their local communities.
                 With a focus on the protection of the natural forestry and beaches in the area, ASVoCR, focuses on prevention, education and investigation. With projects such as the Buena Vista Project and the Playa Montezuma Project where the focus is on the saving, reintroducing and rehabilitating sea turtles into the ocean ASVoCR not only focuses on immediate environmental support. The Robles-Kaufmann Station is named after a group of Oxford donors and focus on reforesting and educating the local community about the wonders of the natural world around them
The Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary and Penjamo Community Wildlife Refuge is based on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, on the North Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Consisting of 28 acres of wildlife sanctuary, education programs within the local school system and community awareness programs. One of their main concerns is the reproduction for reintroduction of endangered or already extinct species of animals and birds, as well as combating the poaching, hide trade, the illicit pet trade in our area and the promotion of reforestation by providing rare and endangered hardwoods and native fruit trees.
                      The Cloudbridge Nature Reserve is another one of these organizations which seeks to protect the natural order of the area. Based near Costa Rica’s Chirripó National Park, on a former cattle farm. The Reserve includes 70 acres of high altitude forest with all the accompanying diversities within the natural ecosystems. Cloudforest foliage and epiphytes have a unique capacity to capture moisture from the air, allowing moisture-loving organisms to survive even during the dry season. Leading to an incredibly unique perspective in the climate change arena.With a four step mission statement – conserve, reforest, educate and research- the reserve is one of many organizations looking for change in this area.
                  With NGOs active in the region, Central America has made significant steps towards reducing their impact on the Earth, However but the NGOs themselves cannot act as the main force of this change, but rather as the catalyst that brings it on. The main responsibility should come from the governments responsible for the areas in question.