Greetings from the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor. We’ve spent a lot of time on community outreach this last quarter as we begin to wrap up both of our remaining substantial grants: a “Debt-for-Nature Swap” (go to this link if you wish to learn more: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debt-for-nature_swap) and a small grant from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). With funding from UNDP we designed and commissioned signs that we have placed at the three major road entrances in the Corridor. We’ve also worked with three local communities to paint beautiful wall murals depicting scenes from the Corridor. As part of this effort, we have been able to revive our community and school outreach program and have visited various communities along the length of the Corridor to raise awareness, focusing our World Environment Day (June 5) efforts on two strategically located communities – Portalón and Uvita. One of our board members accompanied our executive director on an over-flight, (donated by CAVU - www.cavusite.org), of the Corridor that proved very informative. We were able to observe areas where natural reforestation is happening quickly and other, more problematic areas where new housing construction is threating already precarious points of important connectivity in the Corridor. Finally, did you know that almost 100% of all the water that we use in the communities of the Path of the Tapir is actually generated by the Corridor? Water production is such an important function of the Path of the Tapir that we have initiated the Corridor’s first full inventory of rivers, streams, and springs to better ensure the long-term conservation of this vital resource.
As always, we thank you for your continued support of ASANA!
ASANA continues to consolidate and strengthen the Local Council, which is increasingly taking on the management role of the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor (PTBC). Over the past few months, the Local Council, through ASANA’s facilitation, has finalized its official bylaws that must be approved by the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment (MINAE) for the Council to become a legally recognized entity. Just recently, ASANA presented the final bylaws for approval to the MINAE Central Pacific Regional Council. We expect to learn if the bylaws are approved during the month of April.
One of the most exciting achievements over the past few months has been the initiation of the first round of “Green Certification” in the Path of the Tapir. This is an idea that ASANA has wanted to implement for many years but only recently got the funding to be able to do so. The idea is to recognize individuals and businesses in the Corridor who are making significant contributions to the conservation and connectivity of the Path of the Tapir. Our main focus is to identify large private properties of intact forests whose owners have worked hard – often at great person expense and sacrifice – to protect. We have identified four such properties – all over 250 acres – and are now evaluating their conservation potential with their owners. We expect these critical pieces of natural habitat will be certified by ASANA and the Path of the Tapir Local Council during the month of March.
ASANA continues to mature into an effective local organization whose leadership in the region continues to grow, thanks to our phenomenal executive director, Andrea Herrera. We thank you for your continued support of ASANA and hope you stay with us on this journey.
As many of you know, keeping a small NGO like ASANA is no easy task.... With the virtual collapse of the big international NGO's (including World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and Conservation International) in Costa Rica, things have become particularly tough. These organizations used to help ASANA by providing small amounts of funds but now those are gone... We exist thanks to the generous donations of individuals - such as you - primarily though Global Giving.
Despite our financial challenges, ASANA continues to do some pretty incredible things. The newly established Biological Corridor Local Council is going strong. We recently got great news that the Municipality of Aguirre will be signing our UNESCO proposal to make the Savegre a biosphere reserve (the last signature we needed!). We just completed our first private land easement registration (now the owners can get payments for environmental services and not pay taxes on their land, equaling considerable $ savings...). And, ASANA is in the process of wrapping up a totally cool and innovative study looking at wildlife mortality along the Southern Coastal Highway...
As the wet season comes to and end here on the Central Pacific Coast, we hope many of you will be coming down to spend time here. If you are, please let us know!
Happy Holidays to all!
For this report, we want to share with you two studies being conducted by ASANA related to the “connectivity” of the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor and the Savegre watershed. As we have described in earlier reports, the most important function of any biological corridor is the connectivity it provides. Biological connectivity represents the extent to which animals and plants can move across a landscape – form place to place – without being disrupted because of physical barriers such as roads and hydroelectric dams. Connectivity, thus, greatly affects a species’s ability to disperse, multiply, and adapt – especially to climate change. Fragmentation occurs when the landscape – in our case the forest – gets cut up into smaller and smaller pieces. This erodes connectivity to the point that, eventually, we are left with tiny island patches of habit that can no longer maintain biodiversity. In addition, plants and animals cannot move among these remnant patches because the distances between them become too great.
By far, the greatest threat to the Path of the Tapir is fragmentation. Local threats – such as hunting – have been reduced to the point that they are manageable. But the construction of roads, electrical transmission line, dams, and housing continue to cut up the forest at a fast rate. To better understand fragmentation in the Corridor ASANA commissioned two studies. The first study is analyzing the effects of the Coastal Highway on the movement of animals from the mountains down to the coast. Since the road’s completion a few years ago, we have noticed a dramatic increase in “road kill” – animals killed by passing cars and trucks. We’ve seen things as small as frogs, crabs, and lizards, and animals as large as collared peccaries (forest pigs), howler monkeys, and ocelots (one of our biggest tropical cats in the region). Sadly, just last month, a full-growth tapir was killed by a truck in the Cerro La Muerte at the top of the Savegre Watershed. With the current study, we are hoping to better understand where animals cross in order to figure out ways – perhaps through rope bridges or tunnels – to decrease their mortality.
Our second study was done in collaboration with CAVU (www.cavusite.org), a non-profit that specializes in overflights and aerial photography. CAVU graciously donated its plane and staff time to photograph key fragmentation points in the Path of the Tapir and Savegre, including the narrowest part of the Corridor where much housing construction is occurring and hydroelectric dams in the Savegre Watershed. We are greatly indebted to CAVU for its support.
We are hoping this report on connectivity and fragmentation – and two studies we are undertaking to understand them – gives you a better understanding of our work in the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor and Savegre Watershed. Thanks for your continued support!
ASANA has been working for years to form what is called a "local council." This council is comprised of local leaders who represent various sectors of the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor including communities, businesses, non-profit organizations, and local government. With the new local council, the Path of the Tapir now enjoys full government recognition. In addition, ASANA has a strong, empowered partner to promote conservation. The local council becomes the legal entity responsible for managing the Biological Corridor and, as such, has the authority – in the eyes of the Costa Rican Government – to take bold action. It can raise funds for conservation efforts, represent the Corridor in all legal and government proceedings, and enter into agreements with national and international entities. ASANA serves as the secretariat of the local council and will continue to serve as the engine that drives conservation in the Path of the Tapir.
We thank you for your continued support!
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Osa, San Jose,