Forest News & Notes – Summer 2013 Newsletter

A Special Message for You...

Laurie Waller

Laurie Waller, President

Dear Friend of the Forest,

Through your interest in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest (CER), you are connected to a phenomenal life force.

The CER pulses with “off the charts” biodiversity. It is a pristine forest covering 7 life zones, and a reserve where endangered species can recover – like the Jaguar and Green-eyed frog. Today, when all forests are threatened by global warming it is a valuable part of maintaining the globe’s climatic health.

You are also linked, by your efforts to protect this forest, to a global peace movement that values cultural diversity, just as it values biodiversity. Founded by children and adults from 44 countries around the world, the CER is proof that action focused on a united purpose is a strong force for good.

Today, you are participating in a life affirming conservation story that goes beyond the preservation of some of the world’s most, beautiful, fragile and (as yet) unstudied species. As a Friend of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, you are part of a worldwide community of individuals who care deeply about saving the biodiversity of our planet.

Yes, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest is proof of what can be accomplished when individuals defeat apathy with action. This is the life force you are connected to.

For the Forest,
Signed, Laurie Waller
Laurie Waller
President
Friends of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest
laurie.waller@friendsoftherainforest.org

FCER Attends Prestigious 50th Anniversary Joint Symposium of ATBC and OTS

The Ravens' first trip to Pocosol

Dr. Peter Raven’s first visit to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. From left to right: Laurie Waller, Jorge Maroto (MCL Board Treasurer), Tom Newmark, Dr. Pat Raven, Dr. Peter Raven and Dr. Julia Matamoros.

“What future actions can we accomplish as individuals and organizations to improve and sustain tropical forests for future generations?” This was the urgent question discussed by some of the world’s great environmental scientists at the 50th anniversary joint symposium of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) and the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) in Costa Rica on June 24-27 in San Jose, Costa Rica.

In attendance were FCER President Laurie Waller, FCER Board Member Dr. Peter Raven, who is President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Monteverde Conservation League, the Costa Rican organization that created and stewards the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.

One of the first scientists to bring the world’s attention to the threats posed by the widespread loss of tropical rainforests and biodiversity, Dr. Raven joined other leading tropical experts in a key panel discussion on tropical biology and conservation at the symposium.

With more than 1,200 scientists, biologists and conservationists from 50 countries in attendance, the symposium provided time to reflect on the progress and discoveries made throughout 50 years of research of tropical rainforests. One theme that ran throughout the discussions was the critical role rainforests play in the health of our planet and the fact that every forest – whether tropical or temperate – is affected by global climate change.

While in Costa Rica for the symposium, Dr. Raven – a founding Board Member of FCER – visited the Children’s Eternal Rainforest for the first time and stopped by the stunning Pocosol Field Station. Dr. Raven and Laurie Waller also visited other scientific and educational facilities in the Monteverde region, including Texas A&M’s Soltis Center for Research and Education, a center for study founded by FCER Board Member Kim Soltis Hammer’s father, and Finca Luna Nueva, a biodynamic farm and ecolodge operated by FCER Advisory Board Member Tom Newmark.

At the center of 120,000 acres of protected lands, the CER forms the conservation lynchpin of the reserves in the Monteverde region. The symposium gave FCER an opportunity to communicate with neighboring reserves and opened the door to future collaboration. After surveying all that he and other FCER supporters have helped make possible for the CER, Dr. Raven commented, “It was exciting to see the rainforest flourishing, and the enthusiasm of those who have been managing it for all of these years was wonderful to experience. What an achievement for the world’s children, and for us all. Pura vida! As the Costa Ricans would say!”

FCER President Laurie Waller and Board Member Dr. Peter Raven Interviewed on Kelley & Cassandra LIVE

President Laurie Waller and FCER Board Member Dr. Peter Raven, who is President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, were recently interviewed on the 1380 AM St. Louis radio show Kelley & Cassandra LIVE about the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, the importance of rainforests in our world and lives, and the value of individual action. Laurie Waller also highlighted a recent CER success – the CER Rangers’ capture of a longtime poacher:

“Protection of the rainforest is an ongoing challenge because it’s a daily persistent effort to protect what’s there, and we just had a wonderful breakthrough two days ago where after an eight year hunt for particularly persistent poacher he was finally caught. But it really never ends. Buying the land is just part of it, and then we have to protect it.”

Listen to the full interview

Kids in Action: Iain L. Does His Part for the Kentucky Warbler

Iain L. Photo

Standing proud: Iain L.–rainforest crusader!

Where would we be without the vision of middle schoolers? One of the latest kids to join the ranks of sixth-graders changing the world through their ingenious efforts on behalf of the Children Eternal Rainforest, Iain L. from Roosevelt, New Jersey recently took the initiative to create a fundraiser at his school. Called Change for Change, Iain started a loose change drive to protect wintering habitat of the Kentucky Warbler, a NJ bird that migrates to the CER in winter. Iain raised a whopping $700 to help buy and protect half-an-acre of rainforest. Here’s what Iain had to say about his project:

Every student in 6th grade in my school has to “Do One Thing – for a better world” – related to a United Nations International Day, or other important day. You ‘do one thing’ to help others, help the community, or help the world. I wanted to help save the rainforest, so I chose “Biodiversity Day”.

I asked my mum if she could help me find a good project. Mum told me that the birds from New Jersey fly south for the winter and sometimes find their winter home gone when they get there. I wanted to stop the forests from being chopped down, so I decided to raise money to buy a piece of forest to protect it.

I asked my uncle, who studied rainforest birds at university, if there was a bird born in Roosevelt that went to the rainforest in the winter that might need help. He told me of a few different birds. I looked at their pictures and picked the Kentucky warbler because it was cool-looking, pretty, and brightly colored.

I had a loose change drive. I placed ‘loose change’ containers in every classroom in my school and wrote a letter to everyone telling them about my project and asking them to send in loose change. I also sold some old books, did yard work for my parents, and did a letter-writing campaign to friends and family. I also made a presentation to my town’s environmental commission and asked them if they could help too.

Saving the rainforest doesn’t just help the Kentucky warbler, it helps all the other animals that live there, like jaguars, sloths, and many insects!

On behalf of the Kentucky Warbler and all of the animals in the CER, thank you Iain for helping to protect the rainforest!

Rainforest Residents: Sleeping, Munching, Moving (slowly): The Sweet Life of a Sloth

A Three-toed sloth on the move.

A Three-toed sloth on the move.

We get a lot of questions about one of the CER’s cutest inhabitants: the Three-toed sloth. With its big eyes, laid-back nature, and ever-present look of contentment, the sloth is an easy animal to adore.

True to their name, sloths are the slowest mammals in the world, clocking in at the breakneck pace of 0.1 to 0.2 miles per hour on land. Thankfully, however, most of sloth life keeps them in the canopy of the forest: eating, sleeping and reproducing all
take place aloft. Sloths descend only once a week to defecate (yes–one poop per week!) – a slow move that leaves them vulnerable to forest floor predators.

With a metabolic rate half that of other animals their size and the lowest body temperature of any placental mammal, the sloth has some good reasons for its slothfulness. But it’s no slacker. Slow, deliberate movements are a useful strategy to hide from airborne predators and its coat grows a symbiotic algae which give their fur a greenish color, helping with camouflage. The sloth also boasts nine cervical vertebrae (two more than most other mammals), letting it rotate its head 270 degrees for a (practically) panoramic view.

Sloths live up to thirty years, spending the first clinging their mothers. Mom teaches baby the location of the trees she prefers for home range feeding, a preference inherited by the young. While some sloths can eat up to ninety different types of leaves, they typically are acclimated to only 5 or 6 different species. This means that sloths are highly dependent on the specific diet introduced by their mother – one reason it is difficult for sloths to thrive in captivity.

Recent increases in popularity have made sloths a pet-poaching target, a dangerous fate for the malnutrition-prone sloth due to its highly specialized biology, limited diet flexibility, and precarious metabolism. Individuals who are not qualified or trained to care for the particular needs of a sloth can easily (and unintentionally) starve them.

Sloths thrive in their natural habitat – the tropical forests of Central and South America, including the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Protecting these tracts of undisturbed wilderness means protecting and preserving these magical and adorable creatures.

Gabe G. Maps the BEN!

Gabe G. Photo

Gabe G., Friend of the Forest!

Gabe G., a 17 year old Pennsylvanian with a knack for fundraising, has a new project underway – helping to map the Children’s Eternal Rainforest!

Gabe has supported the forest for years through his entrepreneurial “Rice Sacks for the Rainforest” business, in which he makes and sells heatable rice-filled neckwarmers, raising over $3750 for the project since 2006 (for your holiday shopping, you might check out his website at (sites.google.com/site/ricesacksrf/home). Wow!

In his latest venture – Map the BEN* – Gabe will work for five weeks in the forest this fall to collect scientific data for the creation of new maps and trail guides. Always a self starter, he has applied for grants to obtain the mapping equipment he needs.

Maps are critical to the success of any conservation project because they provide the foundation for scientific study. Gabe’s entrepreneurial endeavors in support of the CER exemplify and honor the tradition of youth empowerment and activism by which the CER was created and continues to thrive. You can follow Gabe’s Map the BEN work on his website https://sites.google.com/site/maptheben and we’ll keep you posted on his work. Well done Gabe!

* BEN stands for “Bosque Eterno de los Niños,” the Spanish name for the Reserve

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