February 2020

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

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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