November 2020

This Magenta-throated woodstar (Calliphlox bryantae) was enjoying the flowers of the Ian Giddy memorial garden earlier in November. Photo credit: Anthony Vitolo

All in all November has been a good month for Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. Though we got off to a wet start, thanks to Hurricane Eta, we are very thankful to have not suffered any severe effects from this storm. In the United States, November is the month of Thanksgiving. Though this holiday should be examined critically for its misrepresentation of the relationship between colonizers and those who were already living on the American continent, the concept of giving thanks is extremely important and should take place every day of the year. Here at Cloudbridge, we give thanks for the opportunity to steward this land that is home to so much biodiversity; thanks for our health, facilitated by a healthy environment; thanks for the founders of the reserve and all who have supported it for almost two decades. Thank you!

Catarata Pacífica was quite full after Hurricane Eta!

This month started off with Costa Rica suffering the indirect effects of Hurricane Eta, with over 72 hours of non-stop rainfall and some flooding, landslides and other damage.  Here at Cloudbridge we suffered minimal damage, with the river taking out two of our bridges that access Cloudbridge North and some very minor slides.  However, our hearts go out to the relatives of those who lost their lives and the thousands of displaced families in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.  2020 has been a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season with a total of 30 named storms, and the first year there has ever been two major hurricanes recorded in November.  Central American countries were devastated by Hurricanes Eta and Iota this November, affecting an estimated 5.2 million people in this region.

This image is from a town relatively close to Cloudbridge, where the effects of Hurricane Eta were felt a bit more keenly…

Of course we cannot talk about this hurricane season and the devastation it brought to the Central American region, without mentioning climate change. Warmer ocean temperatures lead to more evaporation, setting the stage for wetter and stronger hurricanes. This year was the fifth consecutive above average Atlantic hurricane season from 2016 onward, and a general trend is that the season has been beginning earlier, and ending later. This month also saw devastation from extreme weather events in other parts of the world, especially from Typhoon Vamco, which caused devastation in the Phillipines and Vietnam.

After the storm, the sun will shine again. Photo credit: Andrey Fotografía Móvil.

For the past 10 years, Cloudbridge has enjoyed a unique and rewarding partnership with the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky. On November 6th, it was announced that this collaboration has received the Innovative Partnership Award from the National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools (NCSSS). The NCSSS includes member high schools, many ranked as the best in the country, along with affiliate members (colleges, universities, summer programs, foundations, and corporations), that share the goals of transforming mathematics, science, and technology education. The NCSSS Innovative Partnership Award recognizes inventiveness in partnerships between member schools and partner organizations. To receive the award, the partnership must support and advance goals of both organizations, strengthen STEM in the partners’ communities, and provide a replicable model that can be implemented at other member schools. Over the last 10 years, 224 students have enjoyed a unique and memorable learning opportunity at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.

Photo credit: Andrey Fotografía Móvil
An example of the certificate that your loved ones will receive from your gift.

The holiday season is upon us! As you consider what to give those you care about, please try to support small, local businesses who have been greatly impacted by the global situation of this year. If you would like to give a “gift that matters”, please consider donating to Cloudbridge in the name of your loved ones. This donation is fully tax-deductible in the United States. We also offer the opportunity to give a gift certificate for a tour or a stay in Cloudbridge´s rental cabins, redeemable at any time (dependent upon availability). Write to to arrange your gift.

Volunteers and Interns

My name is Jessica Bardey and I am studying International Nature Conservation as my Master‘s degree at the Georg-August-University in Göttingen, Germany. As an internship in a nature conservation project is part of my studies, I came here to Cloudbridge and so far it has been amazing. Cloudbridge offers a unique environment to explore and you can learn so much about tropical forest ecosystems here. I am an intern in the camera trap monitoring project and it’s fascinating to see the variety of animals which appear on the photos. In total I will be staying for twelve weeks, and it already feels as if that is too short to see all the amazing things offered by this beautiful spot in nature. Another part of my studies will be a semester abroad in New Zealand, which I am also looking forward to quite a lot. It is so exciting to be able to see the world and learn more about conservation and how it is done in other countries!

¡Hola! My name is Valeria González, I am a student of International Commerce. I envision a more fair, harmonious and solidary commerce, my greatest dream is to help people, small producers and others with what I have learned. Over the years, I have found a great love for Yoga, which has guided me on a path of understanding and love for all of existence, and has allowed me to follow my heart´s path at all times, which is why I am now serving here at Cloudbridge. I love being in direct contact with nature, and to fully appreciate nature. To be able to breathe pure air, smell each flower, feel the water, watch birds fly, see the beauty in each part of Mother Nature is a joy that leads me to understand that we are part of the forces of nature, of each plant, tree, animal, river, the Sun and the Moon, we are part of it all. I fully believe in the philosophy of “Buen Vivir”, of living fully and with complete harmony between the individual and the collective, with balance between humans and nature, for a development with more awareness and well-being. I am grateful to continue weaving my life in this marvelous place, where I will serve each instant with all of my love. Thank you Cloudbridge for allowing me to be here.

“I dreamed that life was joy; I awoke and saw that life was service; I served and saw that service was joy”

Hello, my name is Isabella Marshall, I am from the United Kingdom. I am very excited to start the new position as Base Coordinator here at Cloudbridge. I have a degree in Biology and a Research Masters in Environmental Science and Ecology. I have come to Cloudbridge to experience living amongst the amazing cloudforest, and to learn about the wonderful fauna and flora that live within it. My time at the reserve will be spent supporting the volunteers and interns with their studies, and assisting the staff team with running the reserve. I hope to make many new friends and learn many new skills here at Cloudbridge, Pura Vida!

Born in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica, Mayi is a yoga instructor, holistic therapist and math teacher whose greatest vocation is to be of service. Lover of being surrounded by nature and admiring the sublime existence through it, he enjoys meditating and listening to the sounds of the environment, working with wood in the workshop, hiking through the different trails of the reserve and welcoming all our visitors. His vision is: “may the good practices and thoughts from the light that we evoke enter us and guide us in the right direction”. Feel free to ask him anything during the time you are with us.

Hello, everyone! My name is William, I’m 19 years old and I come from Leipzig, Germany. I would describe myself as an ambitious, sensible person, but also as a team-ready person. I just finished high school and now I want to travel around the world for a year. This trip should start in Costa Rica. I’ve been volunteering in cloudbridge for a month now and I couldn’t have chosen anything better! Because I fell in love with the reserve here in the middle of the rainforest and find it wonderful! So, if you have the chance, make a tour to the cloudbridge nature Reserve, you won’t regret it! See you soon and Pura vida!

Around the Reserve

Once again, our director and her family have participated in a course on identifying fauna of Costa Rica. Here are some of the 7 species of bats that were trapped in the nets! They were promptly released, of course. We are looking forward to having the instructor come up to Cloudbridge soon!

Suggested Reading

  • This month the local news outlet CR Actualidad has published an article about Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. We are very pleased with how it turned out and invite you to please take a look.
  • The economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been devastating for many people around the globe. This article advocates for the stimulus plans to help these economies and people be closely tied to climate change mitigation and reducing carbon emissions. Multisolving is our best bet for dealing with these layered problems.
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer´s acclaimed book Braiding Sweetgrass is a refreshing and poignant take on our relationship to the natural world written by a woman who is both a highly trained scientist and a member of the Potowatomi Nation. This timely story of Skywoman Falling is an excerpt from the introduction of a new edition of Braiding Sweetgrass.
  • We always like to end on a positive note, and truly there is much to offer hope during these trying times. For many countries it is logistically possible, and more inexpensive than previously thought, to acheive zero emissions. However, what is usually lacking is the political will.
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October 2020

Sunlight glints off of wet rock on the peak of Mt. Urán, even at the height of the rainy season, we still enjoy beautiful sunny mornings..

October is one of the rainiest months in this part of Costa Rica, and usually relatively slow in terms of visitors to the reserve.  But for the most part we continue to have beautiful sunny mornings, and visitors still come and enjoy the natural, lush beauty of Cloudbridge.  We are so thankful to be receiving some volunteers and interns once more, and invite you to join us, if you have any interest!

October 12th is generally recognized as an important date, as it commemorates the “discovery” of America. In Costa Rica, October 12th is a date in which Cultural Diversity is celebrated, with special honor for the cultures that were already here when the Europeans arrived, bringing with them diseases for which Native Americans had no immunity. The above mural was painted by Sebastián Berrios, a Chilean artist based here in Rivas at the Montaña Verde Environmental Association. Cloudbridge is happy to have some of Sebastian´s products for sale in our welcome center!

The director of Cloudbridge loves the feeling of being embraced by trees and nature. She is passionate about sparking dialog and action around the important subject of climate change.

As we mentioned in last month´s blog, our director participated with a climate change presentation in the 24 hours of reality event on the 10th and 11th of October. By all accounts, this event was quite the success, with 2370 presentations recorded in 91 countries around the world. Climate change is one of the most important topics of our time, and the importance of communication and education about this subject cannot be overestimated. We have been very pleased with the feedback from this presentation, which was in Spanish. For this reason, on November 15th we will be giving another climate change presentation on Facebook live, this time in English. We hope you will join us!

For all of the birders out there, we are sure that October 17th was a big day for you, October Big Day organized by Ebird to be precise. One 4 person group that spent the day at Cloudbridge shared their list with us: they saw 106 species of birds just in that one day, in addition to other animals.

Volunteers at Cloudbridge

Though the last few months have been quiet, in October we were pleased to receive our first two post-pandemic volunteers. Please reach out to us if you would like to come and do research internship or volunteer with us. We are accepting applications!

Hola, mi nombre es Santiago Sánchez Zúñiga, soy estudiante del C.T.P.A.I.R.A y estoy en la especialidad de turismo Ecológico
Estoy realizando práctica profesional aquí en la Reserva Natural Cloudbridge, un lugar que ofrece experiencias especiales gracias a la gran biodiversidad que posee. Hello, my name is Santiago Sánchez Zúñiga, I am a student of the Isaías Retana Environmental High School in the specialty of Ecological Tourism. I am performing my professional practicum here at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, a place that offers special experiences thanks to its great biodiversity.

Hola yo soy Jefferson Eduardo Ceciliano Hidalgo, estudiante del colegio técnico profesional ambientalista isaías retana Arias de la especialidad de turismo ecológico, y estoy realizando la práctica en la reserva Cloudbridge, el cual es un lugar hermoso y con una gran biodiversidad y también que se encuentran personas muy amigables y “pura vida” . Elegí este lugar para realizar mi práctica ya que amo la naturaleza y también con muchas ganas de protegerla, también gracias a todas las personas que trabajan en este lugar que me llenan de conocimiento. Hello I am Jefferson Eduardo Ceciliano Hidalgo, student of the Isaías Retana Environmental High School in the specialty of Ecological Tourism, and I am performing my practicum at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, which is a beautiful place with great biodiversity and where you can find very friendly and “pura vida” people. I chose this place because I love nature and wish to protect it. Thank you to all of the people who work here and help me to learn.

Suggested Reading

  • Waorani activist and leader Nemonte Nenquimo has a message to the western world that has never been so timely: “the Earth does not expect you to save her, she expects you to respect her.”
  • In the month in which Columbus “discovered” America, it is worth revisiting this interesting article about what how life on the American continent may have been before 1492
  • The SwissRe insurance group has released a disturbing report on the proximity of ecosystem collapse in many countries around the world.
  • Complex systems such as the Earth´s climate have feedback loops and tipping points that we are fast approaching, with potentially catastrophic results. This is part of why news regarding methane emissions in the arctic, and the rise of deepwater ocean temperatures contribute to the sense of urgency for climate action now.
  • This lovely article about fungi and their incredible importance is worth a look.
  • And as we always like to end on a positive note, this video about regenerative farming is incredibly inspiring, and a good indicator of what is possible even under extreme conditions, with a simple change of attitude.
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September 2020

Children gain great benefit from nature, as do we all… Here children enjoy Ian Giddy´s memorial garden at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.

September is Costa Rica´s patriotic month, when the country celebrates it´s Independence from Spanish colonization on the 15th of September of 1821.  This date is usually celebrated with parades and civic activities, but this year most of these celebrations were held virtually.  These truly are strange times we are living in, so much has moved online, even all schooling, here in Costa Rica, until the end of this school year (in November).  Another special holiday celebrated in Costa Rica this month was Children´s Day, on  September 9th.  This holiday was officially created in Costa Rica in 1946, to highlight the importance of children´s rights, and celebrate the citizens and leaders of tomorrow.

Edgar is happy to receive visitors to the Reserve at the Welcome Center.

This month we have finally been able to officially reopen Cloudbridge Nature Reserve to the general public, after three months of closure due to the pandemic. It is such a pleasure to welcome visitors to the Reserve once more, and hear of their marvelous experience on the way out! We have also expanded our souvenir stand a bit, now offering beautiful artwork by local artists, some Cloudbridge stickers and locally produced probiotic beverages, in addition to the T-shirts, key chains and coasters that we have been offering for some time now. The revamped welcome center is very welcoming to visitors, in addition to having new signage regarding proper handwashing, social bubbles and preventative measures against Covid-19.

The meditation labyrinth is one of several attractions for visitors to the reserve.
Catarata Pacífica is one of the closest and most accessible waterfalls for visitors
Cloudbridge waterfall can be seen in the distance at one of our beautiful lookouts, or from a shorter distance from the lookout on the River Trail.
Caldera waterfall is two waterfalls in one, with a round, inaccesible pool in the middle

Visitors to Cloudbridge can once again visit the memorial garden, the labyrinth, several waterfalls, and kilometres of trails through gorgeous cloudforest. The opportunity to see wildlife is always present, but even if visitors aren´t lucky enough to see a troop of white-faced monkeys or a couple of coatis, they still gain great benefit from immersion in a natural environment, breathing the fresh air and getting a bit of excercise! We are also open to receive researchers and volunteers, we are very grateful to the few people who are scheduling their internships with us soon, after the pandemic has disrupted so many plans and lives.

A recent guest at Cloudbridge enjoys the tranquility of Casita Colibrí.
Photo credit: Nelson Cordero Quirós

Our three guest cabins are a perfect space to retreat into the forest with your loved ones and get away from it all. We are very grateful to all of the visitors who have taken the time to give us a good review at Tripadvisor after your time with us, this has led to us recently receiving a Traveller´s Choice Award, placing us in the top 10% worldwide…Thank you!

Enjoy a morning coffee with these views at Casita Blanca.
Photo credit: Nelson Cordero Quirós

We are only a little over a week away from the 24 hours of Reality: Countdown to the future. The Climate Reality Project and TED are partnering for two days of presentations and discussions exploring the future we want and how we get there. It kicks off at 11am ET on October 10 with TED’s Countdown, a five-hour program of livestreamed TED talks and discussions with world-changing innovators and thought leaders confronting the climate crisis head-on and showing the way to a just, zero-carbon future. Then at 4pm ET, the activity continues with 24 full hours of digital presentations and discussions of how the climate crisis, COVID-19, and racial injustice shape our planet and this incredible moment. All led by former Vice President Al Gore and Climate Reality Leaders and happening all around the world. Cloudbridge director Casey McConnell will be participating with a climate change talk in Spanish on October 11th, at 1 pm Costa Rican time on FB live. We hope that you can join in!

On a lighter note, we have a magnificent puma that has been hanging around the reserve, it seems like every time we check the camera traps we get another glimpse of him (and we are always delighted!). We have posed the question on social media, and we would like to pose it here: What name do you suggest for him/her? Please let us know either through Facebook, Instagram, or sending us an e-mail to We are looking forward to selecting a name with your help!

The puma isn´t the only amazing feline we´ve had the opportunity to see in the camera trap images this month. This ocelot put in an appearance as well!

The diversity of tropical forests never ceases to astonish and inspire, from the fungi, lichens and plants to the charismatic fauna and towering trees. In September, a local environmental group, the Fundación Sembrando Agua held a small workshop on flora and fauna inventories. The director of Cloudbridge was able to participate, along with her husband, and it was a lovely experience.

Suggested Reading

  • September has seen California and other Western States suffer unprecedented devastation from wildfires (or should we call them climate fires?), and the fire season is far from over. Portland-based writer Erica Berry explores how overlapping crisis can take a psychological toll in this opinion piece. Here is an article about “The science connecting wildfires to climate change“, though land management decisions such as fire suppression (disregarding and forbidding traditional indigenous practices) have also played a role.
  • David Attenborough is well known and loved to naturalists around the world. His newest production Extinction: The Facts is refreshingly honest and real about these facts, depressing as they may be. The Global Biodiversity Outlook report that was published mid-September confirms that our ecosystems are suffering, though progress has been made in some areas, we have basically failed to meet the Biodiversity Targets laid out in Aichi almost ten years ago.
  • Here is an interesting article about tipping points, an important concept to try and understand regarding climate change. And David Kabua, President of the Marshall Islands, speaks eloquently to the existential threat that his country is facing.
  • I understand that these articles may be causing some distress, so here are two soothing and hopeful pieces: listen to astronaut Leland Melvin read Pablo Neruda, and explore how our language shapes our relationship with nature with Robin Wall Kimmerer.
  • And finally, many of you have heard of the “Green New Deal”, in this blog we have mentioned Naomi Klein´s book on the subject. Now an intellectual heavyweight, Noam Chomsky, has joined forces with economist Robert Pollins to produce the book Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal. In this interview, they speak about this fascinating topic.

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August 2020

This handsome mottled owl was hanging out with us the other day as we were hiking through the reserve to change the camera traps. Quite inquisitive!

August has been another quiet month here at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. The classroom and dorms for the researchers have never since they were built, been so quiet and lonely for such a long period of time.  We are hopeful that now that Costa Rica has opened its borders to certain countries and US states, more researchers and volunteers will come to spend time at the reserve.  Students who are choosing to take a gap year before continuing with University are also invited to continue learning and accruing relevant experience with us at Cloudbridge during this time.  For more information about our internship and volunteer programs, please visit our website.

Volunteers and interns have the opportunity to assist with ongoing projects in the reserve, or conduct their own research, assisted by our scientific coordinator. Here, our director Casey poses with a tree on her way to changing a camera trap.

We are very thankful for all who have supported our crowdfunding campaign! This has been a lifeline for us during these trying times. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to please contribute and help us meet our operating costs during this period that we cannot depend on our usual sources of income. You can also donate on our website or contact us. Thank you once more for your support!!

This glasswing butterfly is one of many, many animals who will benefit from your generous donation!
A piglet frog (Craugastor podiciferus), blending into the leaf litter of the forest floor.

Though we have not had volunteers and interns over the last couple of months, we have been improving and building upon the infrastructure that they will be using! We are looking forward to welcoming back researchers as soon as possible, and are well-equipped to provide a safe, welcoming space!

The beauty of the cloudforest never fails to impress. Since it is difficult to photograph the magnificence of these gorgeous trees, sometimes it is useful to focus on the details…

One of the perks of reaching out to people with our fundraising campaign, has been hearing back from people who spent time at Cloudbridge years ago. We are grateful to Joel Firebrace, who had this to say: ” Send my regards to the compost bin. I helped bring him into the world. Don’t forget to feed him regularly. He likes eating banana peel, egg shells, and orange skins. He’s vegetarian, so don’t give him any meat since it attracts coatis who like to clamber into his tummy and have a good rummage around inside. That said, he does like a good belly scratch from the inside using a pitchfork – it helps him digest. Oh and make sure his tummy worms are happy.” Yes, Joel, we have been taking good care of the compost bins, thank you for your efforts!

Community Carbon Trees has a long history of supporting rural communities in their reforestation efforts, with an innovative model that supports people as well as the environment. They were involved in reforestation efforts at Cloudbridge many years ago, and continue to support us, most recently with a generous donation of trees. We are very grateful, and have already put them into the ground, taking advantage that we still have some months of rainy season left!

We hope that you are coming to expect a special fungi section in each of our monthly blogs, because we are always blessed with a diverse abundance of these important organisms that fulfill important roles in the ecosystem of the cloudforest. The interconnected mycelium of fungi provide an interconnected network, sometimes called the wood-wide web… We are very excited to announce that along with the local interns Leonardo and Daniel Valverde, we are hoping to put together a field guide to the mushrooms of Cloudbridge soon. Until then, you will just need to be patient with the lack of names!

Suggested Reading

  • Though this article by Bill McKibben is written with a focus of perspective from the United States, it is a very interesting article on the urgency of political action regarding climate change.
  • Given the state of climate emergency and the many people whose lives have been affected, sometimes to the point of migration, this exploration of the term climate refugee seems quite relevant.
  • As has become increasingly apparent, Australia is at the frontlines of the climate crisis. Australian youth are demanding an education that will equip them with the tools to face the new reality they will face as the leaders of tomorrow. Read more here.
  • On a brighter note, did you know that bees can manage their sources of pollen? In this study, researchers observed bees biting plants, prompting them to flower 7 days earlier.
  • This lovely interview with author Richard Powers touches on many of the topics he explored in his lovely book The Overstory.
  • Just in case you missed it, please be sure to check out this lovely video of Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. Feel free to comment or like!

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July 2020

Edgar Madrigal has been working for Cloudbridge for over five years. We are very grateful to him for his consistently friendly and agreeable demeanor in addition to his amazing work. Thank you, Edgar!

July has been a busy month here at Cloudbridge. Though we are still officially closed, and don´t have any researchers or volunteers at the moment, we have kept our camera trap program going and made some improvements around base, including a new social area (for once the researchers return!). We have also launched a crowdfunding campaign to help us through this difficult time, and perhaps most excitingly, some of our staff have participated in the climate reality leadership training led by Al Gore!!

Many of you may have heard of former US Vicepresident Al Gore´s Climate Reality Project. Our previous director Tom Gode and his partner (and Cloudbridge´s artist in residence) Linda Moskalyk have been climate reality leaders for a number of years now. This month they were both able to participate as mentors in the first-ever virtual Climate Reality Leadership Corps: Global Training 2020. Along with 10,000 other participants, the co-founder of Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, Jenny Giddy, and the reserve´s current director, Casey Ella McConnell were able to participate as trainees. It was a very rewarding experience!

Ian and Genevieve Giddy fell in love with the rainforest of the Talamanca mountains and decided to protect what they could, founding Cloudbridge Nature Reserve in 2002

On June 23rd, 1988, climate scientist James Hansen testified to the U.S. senate about the effects of greenhouse gas emissions: “the greenhouse effect has been detected and is changing our climate now.” 22 years later, these changes to our climate have become all too visible: Wildfires, “rain bombs“, heat waves and drought have caused tremendous upheaval and human suffering, in addition to an economic impact of over $120 billion US dollars in 2019 alone. But the problems are beyond economic: how could we put a price on the anxiety that young people around the world are experiencing, the cultural loss of island nations who have been forced to relocate, or the food insecurity experienced by already vulnerable populations whose crops are being ravaged by locusts?

In 2019, teenager Greta Thunberg made an impassioned speech to the World Economic Forum highlighting the urgency of the climate crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that the world is capable of reacting decisively and drastically to a perceived crisis, but it remains to be seen if we will collectively respond in this way to the enormous threat posed by the climate crisis. This is part of why it was so heartening for us to participate in the Climate Reality Training and come in contact with so many people who also feel passionate about the subject. As Mr. Gore has stated, the economic and environmental advantages of renewable energy sources are on our side, and we must continue to have hope, and push for environmental justice, honor indigenous knowledge and work together to make our world a better place. I invite anybody who is interested, to sign up and join the next virtual Global Training which will take place in August.

Nutrient cycling, production of water and oxygen and microclimate regulation are some of the ecosystem services provided by a healthy cloudforest.

The climate crisis is not the only current threat to biodiversity: the pressure posed by human development on natural ecosystems around the world can have severe and direct consequences on our own health and well-being. The ecosystem services provided by healthy ecosystems are literally the basis of our own health and well-being, and by threatening the world´s biodiversity we are also threatening the survival of the human species.

This is why organizations such as Cloudbridge Nature Reserve are playing such an important role in assuring that future generations will be able to enjoy the same privileges that we have taken for granted. As with most businesses and organizations, Cloudbridge has suffered great financial losses due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is why we have set up a crowdfunding campaign, which we encourage you to share widely, and if possible, please make a donation (for Spanish, look here). We are very grateful to all who have already contributed, thank you for your support!

In addition to providing essential ecosystem services, the biodiverse cloudforest is a source of wonder and awe, contributing also to our emotional and mental health. Here, our scientific coordinator Clara Moreno enjoys a moment in the forest.
The Cloudforest is known for the wonderful mist which envelopes its visitors, allowing you the experience of literally being in the clouds!
Tree ferns are vascular plants which do not produce flowers or seeds, making them one of the most ancient plant forms. They reproduce via spores, which are located on the bottom of the leaves.
These white-faced capuchin monkeys are cuddling on a branch in the reserve. When you donate to Cloudbridge, you are helping to protect these and many other species of the cloudforest.

We are very pleased to be able to offer our sincere CONGRATULATIONS to Brittany Beagle & Marian Barz for their recent marriage.  Brittany and Marian are currently both working in the Netherlands for companies that do mapping and have recently purchased their first home.  They both did internships at Cloudbridge in 2016, which is where they met : )

Love is in the air…Congratulations to the newly-weds!

Suggested Viewing / Reading

  • We are very grateful to Amiram Roth and his family, who have generously put together this wonderful video about Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.
  • A recent study found great promise for mitigating climate change through an innovative, low-cost carbon-capture strategy.
  • We have barely mentioned the pandemic in this blog post, and now that we will, it´s positive news! Costa Rica´s Clodomiro Picado Institute has developed a serum to help Covid-19 patients, which testing in the US has confirmed to be effective.
  • We would like to give a shout-out to the excellent work being done by Jenny Smith and Community Carbon Trees for ethical reforestation here in our area.
  • And last but not least, this blog post from 2007 shows how our interns have been enjoying Cloudbridge for well over a decade! Thank you Ryan, for giving us permission to share.
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June 2020

Intergenerational planting is the latest trend! Here Marshall Culbreth and his granddaughter Amada Luz plant a tree together.

Though June has been another difficult month for many people around the world who have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, here at Cloudbridge we have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by nature and have the opportunity to practice some reforestation! Keeping to our own social bubbles, we have been able to plant about 100 trees this month, and have lots of fun while we´re at it. We are very grateful to the supporters at HELPCA who have donated to the reserve to support our reforestation efforts! Thank you.

Trees of the cloudforest provide valuable ecosystem services

Here in Costa Rica, June 15th is National Tree Day, which of course here at Cloudbridge we are happy to observe with a hike among the forest and hugging trees. Seriously. The creation of this holiday in 1915 by President Alfredo González Flores makes it one of the first pieces of environmental legislation in the country. As we all know, trees provide us with oxygen, shade, habitat for wildlife, soil and water protection and much more. As many of us know from experience, trees also provide us with an intangible sense of calm and well-being, as anyone who has tried “forest-bathing” can attest.

We love trees!!
The path ahead may be winding and hard, but we will get through this difficult time!

The Covid-19 pandemic has continued to wreak havoc upon the citizens of many countries.  While Costa Rica has been handling this crisis relatively well, the social and economic cost has been quite high.  Though we consider the risk of contagion in a nature reserve to be quite low, we have been informed that we are not yet permitted to open the reserve to the general public.  In addition, Costa Rica´s border restrictions have now been extended until at least August 1st, at which point restrictions may remain in place for visitors from certain countries.  All of this is necessary and good for protecting the health of Costa Rican citizens and not overwhelming our health care system, but unfortunately the economic impact is being felt around the country, including at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.  For this reason, please consider making a donation to Cloudbridge if you are able, to help us continue operating throughout this difficult time.

This male white-throated mountain gem is one of many, many animals that you could help protect with a donation
The morning light shines on the haze created from dust from the Sahara Desert over the Talamanca Mountains. Photo credit: José Fernández

The Sahara Desert is located halfway around the world from Costa Rica, but even so, we have lately been affected by giant dust clouds that have travelled over 7000 kms to create haze and possibly even drive away the rain. This is a perfect example of how interconnected our planet is, and why the tropical cloudforest is of benefit not only for Costa Rica, but for the whole planet!

Greg, Clara and Casey, part of the staff team at Cloudbridge right now, on our way to plant some trees! (not pictured are Edgar and Oscar, who are also essential staff).

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our researchers and volunteers who were scheduled to arrive over the last few months have not been able to do so, and it may be a couple more months until we are able to receive interns once more. Of course, we will have safety protocols in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19, but we are looking forward to receiving interns once more. In the meantime, we have had to take on the basic research tasks that are usually performed by interns, such as moving the camera traps. For this reason, we are pleased to have two volunteers currently with us, who have been a great help!

Greg, Junior and Ismael cooperate on rebuilding one of our bamboo bridges.
Ismael Moore and Roberto Culbreth plant a tree together.
Junior Brathwaite has a bird in his sights.
The deck of Gavilán cabin is bathed by the morning light.

We know that many of you are stuck at home and dreaming about where you will go once we are able to travel once more. We would just like to whet your appetite with these pictures of our remote Gavilán cabin, located within the reserve, surrounded by forest and spectacular views

Gavilán cabin has an equipped kitchen and sleeps 4 people comfortably.

Pictures from around the reserve

The morning light illuminates this beautiful Sphaeropteris brunei. The tree fern is a unique plant that is much the same as it was in the time of the dinosaurs!
The luxuriant foliage of philodendron plants is emblematic of the tropical rainforest. Here, a Monstera deliciosa catches the morning light.
This non-poisonous dark wood snake, Ninia psephota, is a very handsome little fellow!
The striped glass-tail, Urotheca guentheri, is another non-poisonous snake who is part of the wonderfully diverse ecosystem of Cloudbridge
The sun peaks out from behind a stand of trees.
Elves in the forest, with the morning light behind them. Companionship and nature will ease our souls!
Of course we can´t put up a whole monthly blog post without a single picture of the spectacular fungi of the reserve. : )

Suggested Reading

  • A “natural laboratory” with unique conditions of elevated carbon dioxide created by volcanic activity provides an important research opportunity at the Rincón de la Vieja in Northern Costa Rica. Read about it here.
  • As you may have heard, Costa Rica has ambitions to become one of the first carbon neutral countries in the world. This article explores some of the strengths and challenges of our small Central American country.
  • In previous blog posts we have linked to articles about the devastating locust swarms that are putting millions of people at risk of hunger in certain parts of the world. It is easy to forget about this topic, with all of the other turmoil going on, but unfortunately the problem has not gone away.
  • Though he has long passed away, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda captured the current global sentiment quite well in the beautiful poem “Keeping Quiet”. This video of the poem was shared with us, and we also found it worth sharing.

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May 2020

After being closed to the general public for two months, we are pleased to have reopened the reserve beginning on May 16th.  Thank you to all of the visitors who have come to get a dose of nature, after Covid-19 confinement! 

The crystalline colors of the river at Cloudbridge never fail to impress.

Border restrictions in Costa Rica currently only allow Costa Rican nationals to enter the country until at least June 30th, so the interns and researchers that were planning on coming over the Summer have had to postpone or cancel their time at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. 

Volunteer Christina Kruse took some amazing photographs during her time with us, in addition to helping out with various tasks!

Due to this unusual situation, we request that you please consider coming to volunteer or research on the reserve (or recommend it to people you know). Alternately if you are able to support us financially with a recurring or one-time donation, it will be much appreciated.

Research intern Georgia Smith takes note of the relevant information after moving one of our camera traps.

We have had a lovely group of interns and volunteers who stuck it out with us throughout this difficult time, and we are very grateful to them. However, May was their last month here at Cloudbridge, as they will all be leaving shortly. We wish them all the best on their journeys!

Buen Viaje!
Enjoying the sunset at Casita Blanca before leaving…
This tree is so large, it is hard to capture in a photograph!
“Stephan´s plot”, in 2002 and 2019.

In 2008, Cloudbridge researcher Stephan Lehmann planted a grid of plots with different combinations of pioneer and climax species trees. Our research intern Max Battison has recently been measuring the trees in these plots to see how they have progressed over the last 12 years. It is fascinating work!

This beautiful Clown daggerwing was found sunning itself by the river.
Operations manager Greg Oakley poses next to Catarata Don Victor.
Hiking in the cloudforest, it´s possible to feel that you are in the clouds…

Now that the rains have begun again, everything has been growing quite rapidly, including a multitude of fungi, of all shapes and sizes. Here is just a small sample of the many varieties we have seen this month:

Another magnificent tree, protected by Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.
Clara and Greg interact with a group in a virtual field trip.

This month we have greatly enjoyed engaging in a couple of virtual field trips on the reserve. We received very good feedback, with some teachers calling it the highlight of the school year! Please don´t hesitate to reach out if you are interested in a virtual field trip.

This spider monkey was just hanging around the reserve! Photo credit: Anthony Garita
This baby Capuchin monkey is enjoying the ride! Photo credit: Anthony Garita
Our staff team will be one short soon, we`ll miss you Antoine!

Though these last few months have been strange and difficult for many people around the world, here at Cloudbridge we have been blessed with a stellar team of staff (including workers Edgar and Oscar, not pictured here). Though Antoine Jeunet will be leaving us soon, we are still thankful to have such a great team! Thank you.

Recommended Reading

  • This lovely essay by arborist and author William Bryant Logan explores the symbiotic relationship between humans and trees, when our managemente actually helps the trees to live longer, healthier lives.
  • Seeing as how the United States is currently in a state of turmoil due to the many unnecesary and violent deaths of people of color, most recently that of George Floyd, we are including this thoughtful article about the difficulties of “Being black while in nature

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April 2020

Handsome white-faced monkey. Photo credit: Charlotte Vermeulen.

April has been an unusual month, at Cloudbridge and the world over. Many countries have effectively “shut down” to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and Costa Rica has not been the exception.  In the case of our small Central American nation, these efforts have been fruitful, as the caseloads have remained quite small, not even coming close to overwheming the public health care system. 

On May 11th, we hope to be able to reopen the Reserve, following social distancing protocols. Photo credit: Charlotte Vermeulen

Cloudbridge has remained closed for the whole month of April, though we hope that on May 11th the government guidelines will allow us to reopen.  Of course, we will be following social-distancing guidelines and a covid-19 protocol.  As is the case for many around the world, we have suffered a severe loss of income due to this pandemic.  If it is at all possible for you to support Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, please consider making a donation of whatever amount you please.  We are very thankful for any assistance!!

The Resplendent Quetzal is one of several vulnerable species who make their home at Cloudbridge. Please help us continue to protect these species by making a donation today! Photo credit: Charlotte Vermeulen
These beautiful embroidered moths are made of recycled materials and inspired by a recent trip to Cloudbridge. Photo and artwork credits: Maya and Laura Fried.

This April was the 50th celebration of Earth Day. Here at Cloudbridge, we staged a Virtual Earth Day Celebration on Facebook, asking participants to share the actions that they perform to help the Earth in day to day life, as well as related artwork. There were some very inspiring responses, from places as far-flung as Vermont and Australia! Thank you to all who participated!

Old shoes and other “trash” can make excellent flowerpots! Garden / photo: Casey McConnell
The dusky nightjar (Antrostomus saturatus) is a newly identified species on the reserve.

Over the last couple of months, we have added to our bird species list, bringing our identified species that have been seen at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve to a total of 305 (!!). Above, this dusky nightjar came and hung out near the staff house for a while, before wandering off again. It truly is a birders paradise, here.

The new display case in the welcome center. We have key chains, coasters and a new batch of T-shirts!
Fragrant herbs, delicious food, and a lovely space to lounge, right near the staff house!

The lovely group of researchers and volunteers who have chosen to stay here in the midst of the pandemic have kept on with their work and studies. Our bird monitoring program is ongoing, we have some forestry studies happening (including in a plot that has been abandoned for some time), and of course the camera trap surveys are also ongoing. We have also made some new gardens around the classroom and the staff house, and updated the welcome center. We have kept some of the volunteers busy with making souvenirs from forest materials.

Volunteers at Cloudbridge get to practice all sorts of different skills. Here Christina is preparing some souvenirs for the welcome center. Photo credit: Antoine Jeunet.
Collecting data at the Reserve involves a bit of hiking and some beautiful views! Photo credit: Charlotte Vermeulen

It is definitely not all work and no fun at the Reserve. Because they have been in a “bubble”, maintaining social distancing from the outside world, our researchers and volunteers have been able to socialize amongst themselves, making them a lucky group! With delicious, fresh, local food available for pick-up, there have been wonderful feasts and a lovely Easter weekend celebration. We even spent an evening watching shooting stars.

Unloading the car with products from the “Mercado Local Solidario del Chirripó”.
Though the local trout farm has been closed for in-person fishing, we have been placing orders by phone, for fresh, local trout.
The rainy season is beginning!!

This month has also brought the rains again! The Earth seems to be sighing with relief and pleasure, we are so happy to have the rain.

With the beginning of the rains, we are also able to enjoy the lovely mist. Photo credit; Charlotte Vermeulen

Pictures from around the Reserve

Our forestry intern Ben Petch takes a quick break to enter some data!
This female collared trogon posed quite beautifully for the camera. Photo credit: Charlotte Vermeulen
Max and Ben take a pause in their labor to smile at the camera.
Tree ferns make beautiful patterns with the sunlight. Photo credit: Charlotte Vermeulen.
This peccary almost seems more photogenic than usual : ) Photo credit: Charlotte Vermeulen
This coati is hanging out in the gardens of Casita Blanca!
The resplendent quetzal, magnificent as always. Photo credit: Charlotte Vermeulen

Suggested Reading

Recognizing the importance of our non-human neighbors and the indispensable services they provide (such as pollination), is a growing trend that more cities and suburbs will adopt. This article describes the experience of Curridabat, a suburb of San José that has given citizenship to bees, bats and butterflies.

The giant sequoias of California´s Sierra Nevada are magnificent beings who have lived through millenia. Documenting their decline is a heartwrenching experience, but something that this author feels is important to do.

With so much attention being placed on Covid-19, it is easy to overlook the immense threat that our changing climate continues to pose to millions of people´s health and well-being. Certain regions that already experience food insecurity are now being further threatened by vast clouds of crop-destroying locusts.

The drastic shifts that have occurred in the wake of Covid-19, and the large stimulus packages that are currently being designed, offer an unprecedented opportunity for society to push low-emission, green technologies. However, few governments seem to be taking this into account. This opinion piece explores this dilemma.

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March 2020

It may seem that the world has stopped, but the natural world has not changed much. Here is a beautiful view from the porch of Casita Blanca. Photo credit: naharah.visualize

March has been a month of great changes on the global scale. Here in Costa Rica, society seems to have entered into a state of hibernation, with all parks, markets, beaches and social gatherings shut down. The government has requested that we all practice social distancing, to ease the load on the public health system. So far it has been quite effective, as of March 30th there have been only 2 deaths in the country due to COVID-19, and a total of 330 confirmed cases. Here at Cloudbridge, we have officially closed the reserve to the public. Many of our researchers have had to leave early due to the global situation. Those that have stayed are continuing with their work, and not leaving the reserve at all, to maintain social distancing. Thankfully we are all in good health and good spirits. We all agree that if you must be in quarantine somewhere, Cloudbridge is not a bad place to be.

Visitors like this lovely coati, make being in quarantine much more pleasant. Photo credit: Christina Kruse.

We realize that around the world, many people have experienced a loss of income because of this pandemic, and we wish all the best for those workers who have been laid off or suffered a reduction of hours. Here at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, we have also suffered a significant loss of income, as could be expected given the circumstances. Please consider making a recurring or one time donation to help us with our daily operations during this difficult time, or to help us eventually move forward with our special projects.

Our “special projects box”. Before we closed the reserve to the public, we were very pleased with the response to our requests for support in building a new Research Lab. Please feel free to contribute here.
Saying goodbye to the many interns who felt the need to leave early was a bit sad. We are very grateful to the lovely group that have chosen to weather the storm here at Cloudbridge!

We are very grateful to the researchers who are able to stay at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve during this difficult time, keeping our ongoing projects moving forward. Our bird surveys and monitoring of wildlife using camera traps are projects that we are happy to continue pursuing during this crisis. We have received a number of new interns this month, though in some cases, they had to endure a period of quarantine before joining the team!

Welcome to our new interns!

Hello, I’m Riccardo Palladini, an Italian student working at Cloudbridge as a researcher. My actual inquiry is about mammal and bird biodiversity in the secondary forest, to assess the effectiveness of the reforestation effort at the Reserve. Back in Italy I studied biology in my bachelors and now I’m attending an international Masters course called Global Change Ecology & Sustainable Development Goals. My internship experience at Cloudbridge has been chosen particularly for two reasons: to understand how to set up and perform a research project, and to get in touch with the situation of an NGO committed to environmental restoration and cooperation for development with the local population. I believe that my future job will be highly related to these themes and I’m looking forward to clarifying my ideas about it during this experience.

Hi, my name is Christina. I’m from Germany and I’m a biological-technical-asistant. At home I work in an environmental laboratory but now I am taking a 3-month sabbatical and I’m thankful that I can stay here at Cloudbridge in the wonderful nature. I’m curious about all the things that I will experience here.

Hola ! I am Gabriel Henry from France. I discovered Cloudbridge two years ago and I knew I was going to come back. I am a graduate with a bachelors in Economic Sciences and I am doing a gap year between the two years of my Masters of Environmental Protection. I am here to learn biologist tools in the field, to have multidisciplinary skills in environmental managment and protection. Cloudbridge is the best place for this! I am working here on the bird survey and data analysis.

Hi I’m Charlotte, I’m a French architecture student passionate about sustainable materials and nature. I’m doing a gap year in my studies and I came to Costa Rica to learn more about sustainable living. Cloudbridge is the place to be for that ! I have here the opportunity to work on great projects about the reserve with people from all different backgrounds. I can’t wait to start this new adventure and quite glad I ended up “confined” in this magical place.

Pictures of Cloudbridge

This rainforest racer was hanging out in the staff bathroom!
This juvenile pit-viper can be found in the same place every night.
This mountain gem has been hanging around Casita Colibri. Photo credit: Christina Kruse.
Catarata Caldera, the “cauldron”. Photo credit: Naharah.visualize
With social distancing there is not much chance of using this lovely picnic table in the memorial garden. Hopefully the elves do, though! Photo credit: Naharah.visualize
The “poró de montaña” (Erythrina berteroana) has edible flowers that are also quite beautiful. This pioneer tree is native to Costa Rica, unlike it´s well-known cousin, the poró gigante (Erythrina poeppigiana). Photo credit: Naharah.visualize
The net-casting spider throws a net over its prey instead of waiting in a web. This is our manager´s favorite spider!

Recommended Reading

Exploring the link between the destruction of natural ecosystems and the current pandemic, this article proposes that the current situation could just be the “Tip of the iceberg”.

In this article, Brett Jenks argues that the social changes that we are witnessing in response to Covid-19, can offer us hope that as a society, we could take more action for the ongoing crisis of climate change. Some of the changes that we could take, and a vision of the world that we could create together, are described briefly here.

And just in case this time of shut down is feeling a bit overwhelming, Dr. Laurie Santos offers science-based approaches to happiness in her lovely podcast, The Happiness Lab. She has been providing Coronavirus bonus episodes, beginning with this one, Beat your Isolation Loneliness.

And to end on an even more positive note, here is a nice article about bacteria that have evolved to eat plastic.

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February 2020

The start of the XXXII edition of the Chirripo Race, which took place last February 22nd. Image source:

February is one of San Gerardo´s most exciting months, as this is when the Chirripó Race occurs each year.  The race weekend is accompanied by many festivities, along with the sale of food prepared by the local community.  Cloudbridge´s researchers, volunteers and staff were able to help out with chopping vegetables and more, which was a great opportunity to give back to this wonderful community, practice Spanish and learn about traditional Costa Rican cuisine.  Our congratulations and admiration for the athletes, who completed an incredibly difficult feat.

Chopping vegetables was one of the tasks performed by Cloudbridge interns in the days leading up to the race. Image source: Clara Moreno.

As usual, this month has been filled with fun and exciting activities, in addition to our daily work of conducting surveys, collecting and processing data, and more. The fun, camaraderie and team spirit of our researchers and volunteers, is part of the appeal of Coudbridge Nature Reserve´s internship and volunteer programs.

Before our soils intern Alesha left, she helped organize an obstacle race!
Pizza nights at the Garden Café, dinners at the Uran and freshly caught trout meals at Cocolisos (pictured), are some of the activities that our researchers enjoy doing together.

The success of our internship and volunteer programs means that we are at a stage where we need to expand our infrastructure. Specifically, we are in need of a new research lab, and already have the design drawn out. If you would like to help make this a reality for Cloudbridge, please consider giving us a one-time or recurring donation. All income directly supports our conservation and research efforts on the reserve, and is greatly appreciated. If you so desire, feel free to indicate in the donation that it is for the lab, and we will put it into our special projects fund.

Our current lab is little bigger than a closet, and we have research projects spilling out into the kitchen. Please help us make our new research lab a reality, and donate today!

This month has seen big changes at the Reserve, with our long-time Scientific Coordinator Jennifer Powell returning to Canada to spend more time with her family and pursue a PhD.  She will definitely be missed at Cloudbridge!!  Her Costa Rican doggy Lupi, is now having to adapt to the snow and cold.

Even with his snow coat and booties, Lupi is not too sure about this snow thing!

Our recent director Carrie Visintainer has also left the Reserve, and will be missed.  Stepping in to fill her role is long-time friend of Cloudbridge Casey Ella McConnell.

This picture of outgoing scientific coordinator Jenn Powell (left) and new director Casey Ella McConnell, was taken just hours before Jenn left the reserve.

Hola! My name is Casey, I´ve lived here in Southern Costa Rica since I was 8 years old. I am honored to be the new director of Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, a place that I have loved since before it became a reserve in 2002. I am an Agricultural Engineer, have a Masters in Environmental Studies and live with my family on a small agroecological farm in Rivas. I am also Vice President of the environmental association Montaña Verde. I am very excited to assume this leadership role for the amazing project that is Cloudbridge.

Clara Moreno, our Scientific Coordinator, feeling good after a small morning hike on the reserve.

¡Hola! I’m Clara, from Spain. I recently joined the amazing team at Cloudbridge to be the new Scientific Coordinator. I graduated with a PhD in Ecology at the University of Southeast Norway in 2014. After graduating, I mostly worked on small conservation organizations focusing mainly in sea turtle conservation. I love the outdoors and I don’t conceive working on anything other than nature. Living and working in the cloud forest of Costa Rica is a new and exciting challenge for me. After just a few weeks here I am certain that this will be such an enriching experience! ¡Pura Vida!

Hi. My name is Georgia. I am from London and study conservation biology at Plymouth University.  I arrived at Cloudbridge 3 weeks ago to carry out a 3 month internship as part of my university placement year.  I am working on the camera traps and have already seen a variety of different animals including a puma.  I chose Cloudbridge because of the amazing biodiversity and the much warmer climate than England!

My name is Jonah Lutz and I’m from Germany.  I am now living at Cloudbridge for one month as a volunteer, which means I can work with the researchers but I have no specific research topic of my own.  I love being here because this place is absolutely amazing.  After work I normally make lunch and then go out for a hike or just relax in the garden.  Sometimes I go to the waterfalls and sit next to it for an hour to calm down and relax.  But the work is great fun too. Working in the forest and learning something new or just being at the Welcome Center and talking to the guests, it’s so cool.

Hola! I’m Juan Pablo from Colombia. I recently graduated from ecology and environmental sciences and I’m looking to gain more research and fieldwork experience in Latin America. I’ll be studying epiphyte presence and niche partitioning across different areas of Cloudbridge. This place is paradise!!

Recommended Reading:

  • This month marks one year since the government of Carlos Alvarado launched one of the most comprehensive national decarbonization plans in the world. The plan would allow for Costa Rica to achieve net emissions of zero, by the year 2050. Here is a UNFCCC announcement of the plan, and here is the plan itself (in Spanish).
  • Though Costa Rica is well-know for its pacifism and political stability, we have not been untouched by the wave of death which has touched environmental defenders from around the world. The most recent victim of this horrific violence is the Indigenous leader and activist Yehry Rivera. This article, from a UK-based newspaper, explores the dynamics behind his death.
  • A bit further from home, this interactive article explores the consequences of extreme heat in Australia, which has been on the frontline of climate change.
  • And of course we don´t want to end on a negative note, here is proof that forest-bathing is going mainstream, when there is an article about it in Good housekeeping. : )
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