For the past three months the GVI trust has focused on both preserving the Costa Rican rainforest and on raising community awareness of the issues and challenges facing this ecosytem. A staggering total of over one tonne of rubbish was cleaned from the beach and a large outreach event was run in the nearby town of Tortuguero.
GVI Jalova has been working tirelessly to ensure the continued success of the flora and fauna of Tortuguero National Park. The focus in the past three months has been on two separate events; a beach clean and a community outreach fun-run in Tortuguero town.
On the day of the beach clean over 1,000 kilograms of trash was collected by staff and volunteers. Although the day was long, and the Costa Rican sun hot, morale and enthusiasm remained high as we cleared the beach of trash and debris. Considering the number of endangered sea turtles that use the beach as a nesting site, the benefits of this clean are apparent, making this already worthwhile activity even more fulfilling.
Our outreach event took place in the nearby town of Tortuguero, and was designed to raise awareness of the importance of migratory birds to the area, and the ecosystem as a whole. Community members were encouraged to run with staff and volunteers, with a collective distance of 500km achieved, a total designed to demonstrate the huge distances covered by migratory birds on their mammoth annual journeys.
Fundraisers were in place for both events. For the first event the funds were used to pay for a large boat to take the trash collected to the nearest recycling plant, and we are still waiting to receive funds for the second, with the goal being a donation to a tree farm within the park created by the local community.
The work done by the GVI Jalova base is done in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and this is the case with the work done these past three months, specifically in these cases working on Goal 14 (Life below Water), Goal 15 (Life on Land), and Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
There are plans in place to continue to improve the sustainability of the base we live in here in the park, with new solar panels being purchased to enable us to have a more reliable source of electricity and a more comfortable living environment for both staff and volunteers.
The big focus for the next quarter, however, and the remainder of the year, is the new environmental education program being run at a nearby high school. It is an unescapable fact that any conservation project is guaranteed to fail without the support and backing of the local community, and this program is designed to both educate and excite the next generation about the benefits and importance of protecting the unique ecosystem here in Costa Rica.
The goal now is ensuring this program is itself sustainable, and has the support and funding to guarantee long-term success. The proposed plan is to create an opportunity for rewarding those students who create the most successful presentation on the importance of environmental education. Specifically, we intend to offer a chance to come with GVI staff on a conservation expedition to learn more about the species within the park, literally on their own doorstep.
Raising funds for this, and providing the school with the equipment and supplies needed to carry out this project, is an exciting challenge for us, and one we are going to tackle creatively and with the same enthusiasm we have shown in the past. We firmly believe the only way to ensure continued and total support for the work being done to protect Tortuguero National Park depends on the enthusiasm and involvement of the local community who call this beautiful place home. Our hope is that the environmental education program is going to help garner this support.
It has been a busy but fulfilling three months for us here in Jalova base, Tortuguero National Park with two big events under our belt. The goal now is to focus on environmental education, creating a long-term plan to deal with the challenges facing Tortuguero National Park. Thank you to all our donors and those who continue to support our efforts here.
Mac and the Jalova team.
GVI has been working in the Southern end of the Tortuguero National Park for the last 8 years. As with all GVI projects, the conservation base at Jalova in Costa Rica works towards long-term objectives, and ensures these objectives work within the framework set out by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. One of the goals is “Life on Land,” and the continued conservation and study of species here in Tortuguero National Park is one of the key focuses of the work we do here. The diversity of vertebrate species so far this year has been spectacular, which continues to be an indicator of a good recovery and healthy forest. For example, on one night forest survey a record was broken, a grand total of 11 different snakes were seen on the survey transect. Likewise, the calm, soothing canals have also seen some new faces this year. Already, 4 new species have been added to the list with only 11 surveys taking place. The species are the Royal Tern, Laughing Gull, Chestnut-headed Orependola, and the Greater Yellowlegs. Moreover, in mid January a new butterfly survey project started as there seems to be very little documentation on some butterfly species and they also act as biodiversity indicators.
Finally, this quarter we continued our partnership with ‘Coastal Jaguar Conservation’, and were able to provide them with a donation to buy equipment in order to continue working on this area in partnership with GVI staff and volunteers. Their key goals are to support the conservation of wild cat species and their prey species in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica, with a primary focus on the predator-prey relationship between the nesting sea turtle population and the local jaguar population. The data generated by their project is provided to the administration of the park and ACTO (Área de Conservación Tortuguero, for its acronym in Spanish) to help support future management plans in the area. Because of their findings and recommendations, ACTO has recently expanded the ‘Zone of Absolute Protection’ of the park. Further to this, their recommendations regarding appropriate behaviour during encounters with the wild felid population (primarily the jaguar) have been made obligatory for all organisations operating within the park.
The support provided by you, GVI and The GVI Trust has allowed this project to continue its long-term monitoring efforts, to make more informed management recommendations and to gain a greater insight into the wild cats and their prey species inhabiting the park. This has also allowed their project, in collaboration with previous and current GVI staff to publish several scientific papers in peer reviewed journals, among other dissemination activities.
As always, we would like to thank you for helping us through another quarter!
All the best,
We hope you enjoy our yearly round up as much as we enjoyed making it all happen!
Round up fundraising this year
Throughout 2017 the staff and volunteers of Jalova base have worked hard to improve conservation efforts within Tortuguero National Park, and increase awareness of the issues facing the area. The support of The GVI Charitable Trust has helped us in this goal.
The team completed one major fundraising effort, with all staff and volunteers joining together in 24 - hours of surveys. It was a mammoth effort from all involved, with a total of 104 different species being
recorded during the process.
In total, $1000 was raised by this fundraising challenge.
What projects we used donations for
The goal of the fundraising was to buy binoculars for our partners MINAE, who run the National Park. They are going to use these binoculars to help with education of the local children at the high school. Education is the first and most important step in conservation. Without increasing knowledge of the species within the park, and the necessity behind their continued protection, our conservation efforts would be in vain. 10 pairs of binoculars were bought, and we hope to receive updates from the park rangers on how their lectures and lessons with the local community go.
From the funds from previous years we were able to donate 1,828USD to our Jaguar Conservation partners, Coastal jaguar Conservation, in order to buy equipment like camera traps, batteries, etc to continue with this essential research on jaguars and their dynamics.
How these projects have impacted lives
Tortuguero National Park, where Jalova Research Station is located, is a protected area for thousands of species; some of them listed in the IUCN Red list of endangered or vulnerable species. Working in partnership with SINAC, Coastal Jaguar Conservation and The Sea Turtle Conservancy, we work towards the conservation and research of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles found within the park.
One of the biggest issues facing conservation is the lack of understanding and education amongst people regarding the benefits of conservation. This is something that will be rectified in the local school with the use of the binoculars.
Throughout the year we get volunteers and interns who get trained in identifying different species as well as learning about their importance. Living in a remote location gives the participants the opportunity to live and experience a natural and sustainable way of living.
What your plans for 2018
During 2018, we will be supporting our local partners, Coastal Jaguar Conservation, in achieving their objectives specifically in the Southern part of Tortuguero National Park. We also intend to install more solar panels on base to further reduce our use of the generator. There are also plans to install a second water collection storage to continue to ensure our impact on the environment is as minimal as possible.
Thank you for assisting us in all that we do here in Jalova, we are so excited to share 2018 with you!
The coastal zone of Tortuguero National Park, is an iconic nesting area for green turtles and an important area for jaguar conservation. Due to the high availability of prey species such as marine turtles, an important population of jaguars (resident and migratory) have been identified here too.
According to the IUCN Red list, green turtles are classified as endangered species, which means that its population is decreasing. Jaguars are classified as near threatened - this means that if habitat loss, poaching of prey and fragmentation of populations continue at the current rate the species will likely qualify for Vulnerable in the near future (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15953/0). Studying, preserving, protecting and raising awareness on these species are key activities to keep or restore their populations. This is a joint effort with many stakeholders involved, which involves Scientific data collection, input and data analysis, communication, education, stronger policies creation, law inforcement and awareness raise for its conservation.
GVI has been working in this region since 2010 in partnership with the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment (MINAE-ACTO), The Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC), Panthera and more recently with Coastal Jaguar Conservation (CJC), who have developed different research lines and protocols for its conservation and awareness activities. Hence, volunteers and staff have been collecting data following our partners protocols and methodologies, which has helped to provide information on jaguar and turtle dynamics, breeding, behaviour and for an ongoing jaguar genetics connectivity study; all of which has proved to be key in order to understand these species and preserve them. For instance, this year (2017), thanks to the data collected throughout the years, Coastal Jaguar Conservation worked together with the Park authorities in order to close an area of the National Park to tourism activities, due to the high jaguar activity found. Together with GVI, different workshops and activities related to jaguar and turtle conservation have been done in the close by communities.
In order to gather the data, CJC, STC along with GVI staff and volunteers, carry on permanent research projects which involves strict training and data revision in order to make sure that the data is accurate and usable to compare with other sites or to help decision makers. These types of projects involve a range of different types of equipment, which, depending on the project, it is provided by GVI, the volunteers and it's local partners.
For example, the turtle project, STC provides the tagging marks, callipers, etc; for jaguars, CJC supported by GVI, provides camera traps, batteries etc. Safety is a key part of the data gathering, so having reliable communications in case an emergency happens during the fieldwork is essential in order to ensure the sustainability of the project. Taking into consideration that the work done is in a remote location with no reliable phone cover, as only certain parts of the beach have signal, satellite phones were made available in order to support the ongoing project.
Costa Rica Country Director
Working with the community is an incredibly important part of working in Jalova, Tortuguero National Park. The park itself is very important to Tortuguero town and the surrounding area, many people are employed in areas relating to protecting the Park or to tourism that the Park brings to the area. As such the community are generally aware of environmental issues and the importance of protected areas.
The park itself is very important to Tortuguero town and the surrounding area, many people are employed in areas relating to protecting the Park or to tourism that the Park brings to the area. As such the community are generally aware of environmental issues and the importance of protected areas.
We want to make sure that we do everything that we can to maintain this level of environmental awareness in the area, and also extend the knowledge and awareness that is already within the community. We also like to get involved with the community as much as possible to let them know about our presence in the Park and what work we are doing in the area.
Getting Involved at the Annual Event!
Therefore, this month we took all of our volunteers to visit Parismina for a beach clean at their annual fishing competition. Every year GVI volunteers and staff come together with the community for this event. It is an integral part of community life in Parismina and is well attended by members of the local community.
In the break of the fishing competition volunteers and the local fishermen worked together to clean the beach in Parismina. It was hard work as there was a lot of rubbish which had been washed up from the ocean, but working together made the task a lot easier! Everyone got involved in the clean and the beach was visibly cleaner afterwards. Everyone was surprised by the amount of rubbish we managed to collect over the course of the clean. We hope that it showed our volunteers and the locals how important it is to dispose of waste in the correct way, especially as it can wash up on beaches which are important to nesting marine turtles.
After the beach clean was completed we were able to provide the Parismina Fishing Team with video testimonials for their website showing how important our partnership with them is to us. All in all, it was a successful day and everyone had an enjoyable time.
Thank you for your continued support!
GVI Costa Rica
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