Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast

by ASANA (Friends of Nature, Central and Southern Pacific Coast) Costa Rica
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast
Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast

Here’s a general update on ASANA activities:

Plastic-free Whale Bay (Bahía Ballena):  ASANA has initiated the second phase of this project, working with the Osa Municipality to get the entire county declared plastic-free.  ASANA also continues to work with businesses in the region to reduce plastic use and disposal.

Local Council – Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor:  ASANA has initiated development of a 5-year work plan for the corridor.  

Tapir Research: ASANA will soon initiate a 2-year research project on tapirs in the Talamanca Mountains.  This project will focus on genetic sampling and the use of camera traps. We are hoping to secure funding to extend the study into the Savegre River Watershed to determine the extent to which the newly established biosphere reserve is providing adequate connectivity between the mountains and the pacific coastal zone.

Thanks for your continued support of ASANA!

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This month, ASANA celebrates its 20th anniversary.  For such a small organization, we sure have accomplished a lot.  Our biggest success came early – 15 years ago – when the Path of Tapir was declared a national biological corridor and formally recognized as part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.

But just in 2017 alone, we have so much to celebrate!  This year we:

… were finally successful getting the Savegre River Watershed declare a UNESCO biosphere reserve.  This signifies incredible national and international recognition of a very important conservation and sustainable development area.

… constructed a brand new conservation center in Hacienda Barú that serves as our office, a meeting space, and a training facility to continue to support local conservation efforts, using much of the support we’ve received from Global Giving friends such as you. Unlike before, we now have a secure, long-term place to call our institutional home, thanks in great part to ASANA founder and longtime president, Jack Ewing, who provided the space for the conservation center.

… launched a major community-based program  – A Plastic Free Ballena Bay – in collaboration with the Ballena National Marine Park to save our shores from pollution.

Please help us celebrate our 20th anniversary – and a spectacular 2017. Please donate today!

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The whale, constructed out of plastic bottles!
The whale, constructed out of plastic bottles!

The Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor connects several protected wilderness areas, one of which is the Parque Nacional Marino Ballena – or, as it is called in English, the Marino Ballena (“Marine-Whale”) National Park. The Park encompassing 270 acres of land and 13,300 acres of ocean and was established in 1990.  It contains the largest coral reef on the Pacific side of Central America and its waters are the best place to view humpback whales as they migrate (Dec. to April) from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii down to Cano Island, just off of the Osa Peninsula, to calve. This park is thus a major Costa Rican tourist attraction and represents a significant source of employment for local residents. Many community members dedicate themselves to the whale watching ecotourism industry.

Human activity causes significant environmental impacts on the various ecosystems inside and outside the park.  One of these is the ever growing global problem of plastics pollution.   Local communities around the national park concerned about the negative impacts of plastics organized themselves and proposed cutting down on plastic pollution by limiting the use of disposable plastic water bottles by ecotourism operators in the region. This effort expanded to include all single-use plastics – including straws, cups, plates and, utensils.

ASANA, in collaboration with another non-profit, Geoporter Costa Rica, and a local business, Bodhi Surf and Yoga, supported this grassroots movement by creating the Plastic-Free Whale Bay campaign. This campaign focuses on businesses and consumers, promoting the curtailment of plastic use associated with food consumption.

One of the impactful (and fun!) activities the group has done recently is the construction of an almost life-size humpback whale solely from discarded water bottles collected from in and around the National Park! (See accompanying photos.)  Artist Alban Corrales, from the artistic group Trincheras de San Isidro Pérez Zeledón, was hired to design and build the whale. Construction took about 10 days with the support of more than 100 local community members and tourists. In the end, the whale is 30’ long and 16’ wide – and took almost 3500 discarded plastic water bottles to build!

Some Interesting Facts…

  • In 2016, 5000 people attended the National Whale Festival in Whale Bay. If each tourist bought just two bottles of water during their visit (and most probably bought more since it was so hot!), then 3 plastic water bottle whales – similar to the one we constructed – could have been built from that one event alone!
  • In less than 7 months, a single whale-watching tourism boat (which used to provide tourist with free bottles of water) produced enough plastic to build a plastic bottle humpback whale like ours!
  • One liter of bottled water is more expensive than one liter of gasoline or diesel in Costa Rica.
  • It is estimated that by 2050 the seas will contain more plastic than fish by weight.
  • 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die annually from ingesting or becoming trapped in the plastic we produce and dump.
  • All the plastic that has been produced in the world still exists in some form.
  • The plastic industry is Costa Rica’s third largest industrial economic activity.

Please let me take this opportunity to thank you sincerely for all your support of ASANA.  We hope you continue to help us conserve the beautiful “Whale Coast” – including the Marino Ballena National Park – that runs the full length of the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor. 

Building the whale
Building the whale
The whale's backside!
The whale's backside!
Poster for local businesses to reduce plastic use
Poster for local businesses to reduce plastic use
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Plastic Free
Plastic Free

It’s been a very busy and productive time in the Path of the Tapir and up the Savegre River Watershed!    

The BIGGEST news is that, yes, our dreams have finally become a reality!  The Savegre River Watershed has been officially declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO!  We got the official letter in February, informing us that in June UNESCO will formally register it. This is a HUGE accomplishment for little ASANA, which has worked for years and years on a shoestring budget to make this happen.  The Watershed is the final big piece that connects the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor and Manuel Antonio National Park up to the Central Talamanca Mountain Range some 10,000’ above.  Now the truly hard work starts… We will continue to find a way to help local communities live sustainably in the Watershed and we wish to explore new economic options that would allow them to do so while improving their standard of living.  If you have some good ideas, please let us know.  And, as always, we appreciate your financial support to cement this incredible accomplishment.    

In other news, ASANA is working with many other local organizations through the Ocean Guardian Journey project to reduce the use of plastics along the coast.  Over the past few years, we’ve seen an alarming increase of plastic accumulation on our beaches and even on the borders of our healthy forests.  This project is designed to reduce plastic use to responsible levels.

With your help, ASANA is nearing the completion of its new office, located in the heart of (actually, right next to the office!) Hacienda Baru.  It will provide us with a good permanent home and ample space to host local, national, and international workshops and meetings.  Come check it out!

Thanks as always for your continued support.

Richard

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So, you can’t come to the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor and the Savegre River Watershed to check out all the fantastic wildlife?  Well, we’ll just have to bring it to you!  Check out the video link associated with this newsletter to get a pretty good sense of what’s out there. All that’s missing are tapirs but I shared with you a photo of one near the Rafiki Safari Lodge, in the Savegre Watershed, in the last newsletter I sent out. And a while back I shared a photo of a black jaguar, photographed at the top of the Savegre.  You don’t have to speak Spanish to enjoy the video. Most of it is of wildlife, caught by the camera “traps” (hidden cameras triggered by motion detectors), set to music.

The video is part of a major wildlife monitoring initiative supported by ASANA and the Path of the Tapir Local Council.  Our goal is to document wildlife abundance and distribution throughout the biological corridor and Savegre region. I never, ever get tired of watching these video.  It makes me appreciate even more all the hard work that so many local people put in to ensure that wildlife returns and thrives in our beautiful part of the world.   

And it is truly astonishing how quickly the wildlife is returning, thanks in large part to the work of local organizations like ASANA and the local council that overseas all conservation work.  Even on my family’s property, only a mile or so from the main highway that hugs the Pacific Coast, we’ve captured photos and video of all the animals you see in the accompanying video – plus, puma, forest deer, monkeys, and more.  Every year, as the forest continues to regenerate, we see more and more wildlife and the number of new species increases as well. 

So, enjoy the video, and thanks for your continued support of ASANA, the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor, and the Savegre River Watershed!

P.S. In case the link doesn’t work, try cutting/pasting this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FWgl8dFmrA 

Links:

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Organization Information

ASANA (Friends of Nature, Central and Southern Pacific Coast) Costa Rica

Location: Dominical, Osa, San Jose - Costa Rica
Website:
ASANA (Friends of Nature, Central and Southern Pacific Coast) Costa Rica
Richard Margoluis
Project Leader:
Richard Margoluis
Guapil, Puntarenas Costa Rica

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