Forest News & Notes – Spring 2014 Newsletter

Protecting the Forest by Working with People

Toucan released
Happy days for this Toucan – released from captivity!

One of the challenges of protecting a 55,000 acre wildlife reserve is that the wildlife doesn’t always stay where it’s supposed to. This means Forest guards wear a lot of different hats. In addition to patrolling for poachers, maintaining trails and keeping the Forest boundaries secure, they help protect and rescue wildlife – often working closely with local community members.

As the human population grows, people and animals naturally come into closer contact. Those encounters can sometimes be hair raising for people and wildlife alike. Fortunately, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest guards have developed good relationships with local communities and are often called upon to help animals in need or to negotiate the surrender of wild
animals held in captivity.

Guards release a Jaguarundi suspected of killing chickens.
When Forest staff discovered that a Keel-billed toucan was being kept in a local home, they brought about the best possible outcome by having the owner voluntarily agree to surrender the bird to a captive wildlife rescue center in the nearby town of La Marina. Guards are also called out on rescue missions to help wounded wildlife, sometimes birds that have been shot. For these feathered friends, getting to a rehabilitation center can truly be a life saver.
Guaco injured by shot through wing
Shot through the wing, this Guaco has a chance at recovery.

Working with farmers who believe that their livestock is being attacked by wildlife sometimes presents an even greater challenge. Farmers understandably want to protect their animals, which can lead them to want to kill an animal thought to be posing a threat. Because poachers sometimes slaughter domestic animals hoping that wildlife will be blamed, Forest guards help farmers determine whether wildlife is at fault and, if so, help remedy the problem by trapping and releasing the offender. Such was the happy outcome for one Jagarundi (a small wild cat), who dined on a flock of hens before guards caught him and gave him a new home deep within the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Without the willingness of the farmer and the help of Forest guards, the Jagarundi might have suffered a far different fate.

Every year, Forest staff and volunteers rescue, rehabilitate and release dozens of animals. Your support helps with this greatly and is one of the many programs that makes the Children’s Eternal Rainforest a special place for wildlife and people alike!

Ingenious Teachers Make Great Student Experiences!

Tesseract Mercado
The Tesseract School mercado

At FCER we’re always impressed and amazed by the incredible ways that teachers engage their students in learning about the culture and ecology of other parts of the world and we love to share their stories with you!

Ms. Tracey Golding, the middle school Spanish teacher at The Tesseract School in Phoenix, Arizona, helps give her 8th grade students a full immersion experience through a year-long program that engages them in learning about Latino culture and biodiversity, culminating in a trip to Costa Rica and a stay in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. While there, the students learn about a host of conservation related topics like rainforest conservation and ecology, sustainable farming and water security.

The students help raise funds for their trip by putting on a mercado (a market) in the spring where students fill puestos (booths) with hand-made Latino-themed products.

The Spanish Club pitches in with a series of fundraisers throughout the rest of the year — selling churros, holding raffles and washing cars. The money they raise funds their trip and a donation to support the Forest. This year the students donated $1000 — wow! “Because the students are so invested in the idea of raising funds for the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, they have connected it to almost every facet of their education — the spring choir concert, the Spanish club and the mercado,” Ms. Golding explains.

At the Tesseract school, the themes of the 7th and 8th grade are biodiversity, so all year long the teachers and curriculum help the students focus on one question as they plan their fundraising and community outreach: “How can an individual or community value or promote sustainability?” What a great question! And something for us all to think about.

Special Projects

Your support helps protect the Children’s Eternal Rainforest in more ways than one. Ensuring the success and protection of the reserve means not only buying and protecting habitat in the region, but ensuring that the entire area thrives. Here are a couple of projects your help has brought about that will have an impact well into the future by attracting scientific research to the Forest and protecting the greater region where the Forest is located.

Historic Regional Initiative Launches

MARI Bioregion Map_12.15.13-01
The CER connects 165,000 acres of critical habitat.

In February, your support helped bring about a historic gathering of scientists, conservationists and community leaders in Monteverde, Costa Rica to participate in a conference co-sponsored by FCER and spearheaded by FCER founding Board Member, Dr. Peter Raven. The conference, titled The Monteverde-Arenal Initiative: Broadening the Bioregion, focused on identifying ways in which key regional players could collaborate in the areas of research, funding and communications to find collaborative solutions to regional pressures that face the entire region where the Children’s Eternal Rainforest is located. Participants included representatives from FCER, the Monteverde Conservation League, the Monteverde Institute, Texas A&M, the University of Georgia and InBio.

The 55,000 acre Children’s Eternal Rainforest plays an important role in regional conservation because it connects a total of 165,000 acres of reserves and parks. Because of this, the Forest is critical to the health of the entire region and the research that is conducted there, ensuring (for example) protected watersheds, uninterrupted wildlife migratory corridors and the continuous habitat necessary to healthy plant and animal populations. Collaboration between the organizations working in the region means a greater chance of conservation success for everyone involved.

Forest Knowledge Soon Available in Spanish!

Monteverde Ecology and Conservation (Nadkarni and Wheelwright) book cover
Soon available in Spanish!

Given that Costa Rica is a Spanish speaking country, you would think that it was pretty important for the scientific research on Costa Rica ecosystems to be available in that language. But until recently, the largest collection of research done in the Monteverde region, Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest, edited by Nalini Nadkarni and Nathaniel T. Wheelwright (Oxford University Press), was available in English only.

Thanks to your support and a vigorous online campaign, that’s about to change. The book will soon be translated into Spanish and can benefit Central and South American scientists and decision makers.

From Our Board

Dear Friend of the Forest,

Dr. Patrick Osborne
Dr. Patrick Osborne

I have travelled to many tropical countries and seen examples of natural habitats degraded through their exploitation to produce timber, minerals and agricultural products. In Malawi, human population growth from 3 million in the 1960s to over 16 million today has seen most land converted to agriculture. In Papua New Guinea, a copper mine has contaminated the country’s largest river with sediments and its fish with heavy metals. Most islands in the Philippines have been stripped of their formerly diverse forests.

While Costa Rica has seen its forest cover decline from 67% of its land in 1940 to just 17% today, the country is now rightly recognized as a world leader for its strong commitment to the protection of its remaining forests and other natural resources.

The Children’s Eternal Rainforest is one wonderful example of this commitment and through your generosity and the dedication of the members of the Monteverde Conservation League, 55,000 acres of diverse montane forest is protected. This Forest came under protection through the vision of children and their insistence that their vision be implemented. Today, the Forest is not only important for the conservation of its biodiversity, for its ecological services as a carbon store and protector of soils and water but also as a jewel to inspire and teach.

As supporters of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, our challenge is to ensure that the Forest is shared with upcoming generations so that its wonders will be appreciated and protected forever.

For the Forest,
Dr. Patrick Osborne,
former Executive Director,
Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center,
University of Missouri- St. Louis

About the Forest

Founded in 1986 by the efforts of school children from around the world, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest in Costa Rica is a 55,000 acre reserve that protects some of our planet’s most biodiverse habitat and endangered species. FCER is a US non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about rainforest conservation issues, providing youth and adult education opportunities, and buying and protecting land as part of the reserve.

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