Conservation and Environment in Costa Rica: Monthly Updates
Conservation in Costa Rica – Monthly Update – November - December 2014
2014 was a great year for us – the rainy season finished and the strong winds from the north heralded the coming summer. This means less water in the rivers, trees without leaves but full of flowers, and wildlife looking for spring water in the primary forest of the park.
We celebrated Christmas season in the Barra Honda National Park with a traditional Costa Rican Christmas meal of tamales, a dish made of dough.
We have very exciting news from the bird survey – we found a new species of bird! The ivory-billed woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster) is part of the Dendrocolaptinae subfamily. The bird’s preferred habitat is a tall evergreen forest with few epiphytes. The ivory-billed woodcreeper has a blackish-brown head, a broad pileum and a narrow face. The back and wings are olive-brown. Finding this bird is strong motivation to carry on with this survey, as we would like to discover even more new species in Barra Honda and build on our list of birds present in the park, which is a sanctuary for many bird species.
Cave Bat survey
We have continued our work on this project, and have discovered that cave bats face many conservation problems in Costa Rica. These problems are due to several factors that make them a highly vulnerable species, such as:
- Demographic parameters: low birth rate (one calf per year maximum) and great longevity. This means that if for any reason there is a significant population decline, recovery is very slow, or even zero, if the problem persists.
- High dependence of daytime shelters, so that the presence and abundance of these species is limited by the availability of these shelters.
- Low tolerance to human disturbance, even disturbances that are considered minimal. For this reason, the principal aim of the creation of Barra Honda National Park was to protect the caves.
National Counting Bats
Barra Honda was one of the places where the national counting of bats was conducted. Experts gathered here for this event and with the help of Projects Abroad volunteers and staff, the activity was completed in three days alongside students, volunteers and community members.
This event happens once a year and all the data is integrated with other stations in Costa Rica in order to quantify bats at different sites.
Blue Flag Programme:
We have great news about this programme! We have been planning and incorporating a number of programmes in order to meet the required parameters for the Commission of MEP PBAE (Ministry of Education of Costa Rica).
We have been monitoring activity, sending annual reports and taking part in community work and the conservation and protection of natural resources. We have incorporated environmental education into the curriculum through community outreach, such as planting trees, donating “recyclable houses” and learning about ways to save water and energy to help effectively reduce our carbon footprint.
Thanks to all this hard work, the schools have received the best award: the blue flag! This is a national first and we feel so proud to be able to work with and help the village next to Barra Honda National Park.
During December, several upgrades have been made around the park. The last terrace of the volunteer rooms has been redone; we started by cleaning the ceiling and painting the walls in a fresh coat of green, instead of the old dark green colour. We also replaced the toilet and the sink with new ones, which will help save water. All of the rooms are looking much better than they did just a few months ago. The next step will be to improve the floor of the terrace.
Supporting other National Parks in Costa Rica
Our newest activity has been to start supporting other National Parks in Costa Rica. We visited Baulas Marine National Park, where they protect the leatherback turtle – the largest turtle in the world – and we did a beach clean-up there. The next National Park we will visit is Diria, which is home to a magical forest in the middle of a mountainous area.
See you next time with more great news from Barra Honda National Park.