Help ASANA Conserve Costa Rica's Pacific Coast

by ASANA (Friends of Nature, Central and Southern Pacific Coast) Costa Rica
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ED Andrea Herrera with Nobel Laureate Adolfo Perez
ED Andrea Herrera with Nobel Laureate Adolfo Perez

2016 proved to be an extraordinary year for ASANA, thanks, in large part, to the kind and generous donations we received through Global Giving.   Two long-standing dreams have recently been realized by ASANA and one extraordinary prayer was answered…

First, only a few months ago, a tapir was not only spotted but also photographed in the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor. “Noteworthy?” you ask?... After all, it is called the Path of the Tapir….. Right? Yes, it is, but the name has always been aspirational. The name of Costa Rica’s biggest, and arguably most successful, biological corridor, was coined by our very own local conservation hero and longtime ASANA president, Jack Ewing of Hacienda Barú. I asked Jack what prompted him and his colleagues some 20 years ago to come up with that name and he said “The day we recreate a land bridge along the Pacific Coast healthy enough to support tapirs roaming from the Osa Pennisula to the Talamanca Mountain Range – and the day we actually see a tapir using it - is the day we can say we have succeeded in creating an enduring biological corridor.”   You see? Dreams can come true with a lot of hard work, dedication, and support. Despite enormous and ongoing threats to biodiversity and sustainable development, ASANA has made a huge impact on the restoration of habitat along the length of the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor.

The second long-standing dream that has been realized is the final submission of our proposal to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to establish the Savegre River Watershed as a Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) Biosphere Reserve. According to UNESCO’s own website, “MAB combines the natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and the equitable sharing of benefits, and to safeguard natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate, and environmentally sustainable.” Currently, there are 669 Biosphere Reserves found across 120. We’re hoping the Savegre becomes number 670! It is a very difficult process to be considered for Biosphere Reserve status, but achievement of this dream would represent immense international recognition that the Savegre River Watershed is a remarkable piece of nature, managed in a remarkable way, by a remarkable group of communities – all for the greater good of our planet.

Finally, our prayer that was answered…. Not even a year ago, our wonderful, one-of-a-kind executive director, Andrea Herrera, almost lost her life in a truly horrific traffic accident. She was very lucky to have survived but was so badly injured some thought she may never walk again. We so appreciate the outpouring of support and wishes for Andrea we received from many of you during her ordeal. I am happy to report that, if you saw Andrea today, you’d think nothing ever happened to her! She is the same animated, energetic, positive, strong, focused woman she was before the accident. For this, we are all eternally grateful.

So you see, it has truly been a spectacular year for ASANA. I hope you will continue to support us to help us achieve even more in the years to come.   

Our community-based local council continues to gain momentum as the administrator of the biological corridor.  It recently established a monitoring system throughout the corridor that includes 12 camera “traps” – automatic wildlife cameras that are tripped by an invisible infrared beam when an animal passes by. (We are looking to place more camera traps at strategic points throughout the corridor and so if you can help us purchase more cameras, we’d appreciate it! They cost about $400 each…) More recently we reinitiated our environmental education efforts in primary schools with a program that includes six schools in the corridor.  During our many visits to the communities, we learned of a new and emerging challenge to conservation efforts in the corridor.  After fighting for so long to create the conditions to have habitat and major species of wildlife return, we are seeing a strange measure of success: predation of domestic livestock by wild cats, mostly puma and ocelot.  While it is great to see major predator numbers rebounding, we need to work with our community partners to figure out a way to minimize or otherwise offset the loss of domestic animals.

One very exciting piece of news we’d like to share with you!  A tapir was spotted (and photographed) in the area of the corridor that joins the Savegre Watershed.  Check it out (photos attached). Yea!!!

I reported in my last message to you that Andrea Herrera, ASANA's fearless leader, almost lost her life in a horrific car accident a few months ago.  I'm happy to report that she is making good progress in her recovery - but she still has a ways to go...

Despite this big setback, Andrea has managed to keep things going.  During this last reporting period, ASANA has:

1.     Managed the local council that governs the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor and which has continued to meet monthly.  Its recent focus has been on primary schools throughout the region, designing and managing an environmental education program;  

2.     Placed 10 camera traps through the Corridor to monitor wildlife;

3.     Continued to support the training of primary school teachers to integrate environmental themes in their curriculum;

4.     Become involved in the Ocean Guardian Journey - a program which seeks to involve ecotourism in the area with philanthropy and conservation.

Thank you for your continued support of ASANA!

First of all, I wish to thank you wholeheartedly for your past support of ASANA’s work in Costa Rica’s Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor and Savegre River Watershed in the past… Most of 2015 was an extraordinary year for us and I want to share two huge achievements and one piece of very unfortunate news…. I very much hope you can find space in your year-end giving to make a donation to ASANA before the end of 2015, if you haven’t already!

First, the good news….

Savegre River Watershed Protected!

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís signed a presidential decree banning hydroelectric dams from the Savegre River for 25 years. This is a huge achievement and supports ASANA’s work to conserve and protect the Savegre River Watershed. It also opens the door for the Costa Rican government to bolster ASANA’s programs in sustainable development in the region. It is a real win for local communities and nature. (Go here to see an article in the Tico Times)

ASANA Wins Prestigious Global Award!

After competing against many, many other worthy organizations, ASANA was recognized by The PeaceJam Foundation as the global “Best Non-profit Act”.  Our executive director (and only employee!), Andrea Herrera was invited to receive the award in Monaco in June of this year from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina. (Go here to see PeaceJam’s announcement and footage of Andrea receiving the award!)

Now, the unfortunate news…

Just a few weeks ago, while on her way to a Path of the Tapir local council meeting, Andrea was in a horrible car accident that nearly claimed her life….  She suffered four broken limbs and various other injuries.  As we have noted many times in the past, Andrea is the heart and soul of ASANA and is responsible for almost every bit of success and progress we have enjoyed since she joined ASANA almost 5 years ago… We ask for your thoughts and prayers for Andrea.

While we are gravely concerned about Andrea and focused on her recovery, all of us in ASANA also want to take this opportunity to thank you and wish you and yours peace and happiness in 2016. 

 

Warm regards,

Richard Margoluis

Vice-president, ASANA

P.S.  To make a donation, please do so through our Global Giving project site (Go here) to take advantage of tax deductions before the end of 2015. Or, go to Global Giving at www.globalgiving.org and search for ASANA. Thanks!

President Solis Rafting on the Savegre
President Solis Rafting on the Savegre

The big - really HUGE - news for ASANA is that President Solis has recognized the importance of the Savegre River Watershed and declared it "off-limits" to uncontrolled and disorganized large dam development.  ASANA started working in the Savegre Watershed about 5 years ago because we saw it as a vital link in connecting the Pacific coastline to the Talamanca Mountains.  Without extending the Path of the Tapir up through the Savegre, tapirs - and all other forms of wildlife - would, in fact, have nowhere to go.

Our efforts have focused on establishing a UNESCO biosphere reserve along the Savegre river and we are getting close to realizing that dream (see more in next month's newsletter...). President Solis's declaration cements our resolve and supports our cause as we work with local communities to find a safer, more sustainable approach to development in the region.

Thanks for believing in ASANA and continuing to support us!   

President Solis signs Savegre decree
President Solis signs Savegre decree

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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: http:/​/​www.ASANAcr.org
Project Leader:
Richard Margoluis
Guapil, Puntarenas Costa Rica

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