After a huge conservation push and a wave of forest regrowth, trees now blanket more than half of Costa Rica.
-Justin Gilles, New York Times
Clarice Esch has received the National Science Foundation award. The National Science Foundation received over 16,000 applications for the 2015 competition, and made 2,000 fellowship award offers. Congratulations to Clarice and all of the awardees and honorable mentions.
Clarice is here for 10 months and so besides her research activities at the reserve she has taken on many community volunteer tasks such as teaching English, teaching a business class, and helping out with the organization of a conference in San Gerardo de Rivas. All of these activities are affiliated with ‘Project San Gerardo’ which provides English lessons and computer classes for the communities in the valley.
Kendall DeLyser is wrapping up her research on reforestation methods to quantify the presence of climax tree species. She has managed to also enjoy some leisure time with a few weekends to the beach, a trip to Panama, and attending a Costa Rican wedding. Next month the blog will post her final research results.
Jasper Van Kessel – Netherlands – His final report and presentation were given this month after completing his research and herpetology survey that looked at the abundance and diversity of frogs in various forest types.
His methods included pitfall traps, plot sampling, and night visual encounters.
His findings include 6 different species with a total of 53 frogs within a 3 month period. (These results would vary within different times of the year.) This happens to be the dry season and therefore fewer frogs are probably seen at this time. Some interesting results are that the highest numbers of species were found in the primary forest with less in the secondary forest and new planted areas. Also it seems that there are species living in higher elevations than what was recorded in previous data from various publications. The glass frogs were even found in the primary forest at an elevation out of their normal range. They are usually found lower along streams and rivers. It has been observed that there are fewer frogs in general this year throughout the dry season. Jasper wonders if drier, warmer weather is having an effect on the amphibian population. He recommends that with variances in future climate change this should be monitored and recorded in our database annually.
Some species that were found are on the red list (threatened or endangered). This is good news as the forest here has matured enough to provide habitat for conservation of these species.
Highlights of his time at Cloudbridge include encountering the monkeys up in the primary forest (they tended to throw things at him); the experience of giving some tours to visitors; the help he received throughout his stay; and his one and only siting of a quetzal! His research can be seen on the Cloudbridge website:
Emilie Kauffmann from France is continuing on where Jasper left off, collecting data of the frog populations on the reserve.
Noemie Soton also from France is working on her sustainable agriculture project and has been going out into the local community to learn more information about farming practices in the area of San Gerardo de Rivas.
Both girls have volunteered in the community and helped with the clean up of a new building for rescue dogs.
Fabian Konopka from Germany is a new volunteer and he brings his enthusiasm for learning about almost everything during his 3 month stay at the reserve. He is working in the welcome centre as well as assisting with bird point counts. Once a week Fabian treks up to the 7km point on the Chirripo trail, spending hours documenting and filming the activity at a quetzal nest. His interest in journalism and producing documentaries should result in some creative pieces before he leaves. Fabian has also been taking part in community volunteering in the area.
James Gilpin – England just recently arrived through the Organization GVI. He will be doing the bird point counts and collecting camera trap data. In his first week he had seven quetzal sightings. Not a bad start! His first 3 months in Costa Rica were spent on the Caribbean coast doing turtle surveys.
Jan and Helena who have been here for several months are doing all kinds of activities. They have worked to expand the parking area, are helping with bird point counts, carrying lumber down the mountain, working around the yard and gardens, and in the welcome centre.
18 students along with 5 adults from the Monteverde Friends school (Costa Rica) came to spend a few days at Cloudbridge. It was tight accommodations for such a large group. They slept on the floor in the classroom, on the floor and in beds in the casa, and some of them even stayed in our Gavalon cabin which is up the mountain near the old growth forest. Tom did a presentation about Cloudbridge and they visited the art studio, and hiked to the waterfalls. This class trip also included climbing Chirripo mountain. We enjoyed learning about their unique Quaker school which hosts students from Costa Rica as well as other countries. It was founded over 60 years ago by Quakers who left the United States in search of a country and community that supported their peaceful principles. Today, the school continues to promote the universal values of peace, love and respect in the context of a challenging bilingual education and a sense of community. Thank you to all of the adults who organized and came along to make this a great experience for the students – Kirk Amos (teacher and former Cloudbridge volunteer), Heather (teacher), Judy (school secretary), Pax (parent), and Patrick (parent).
“Thank you again for our wonderful stay at Cloudbridge. My students left blown away with the project and how beautiful it is. Everyone said it was the best trip they had ever had.”
Monteverde Friends 9th & 10th grades
Cloudbridge hosted the “Perez Zeledon International Womens Club” for one of their monthly walks. For some of them the trails were challenging, but they endured and enjoyed learning about the flora and fauna of the area. Tom lead the hike with his wealth of information and passion for the reforestation project.
Where are they now:
Stephan Lehmann from Germany will have a series of lectures in June about forest landscape restoration on the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development in Germany.
Stephan researched reforestation methods at Cloudbridge for his PHD thesis. He travelled to Costa Rica 3 times to complete this project.
Siobhan McLaughlin – “I’m continuing my studies in China, I’m giving a presentation about reforestation work in Costa Rica (so a lot about Cloudbridge!) for my restoration ecology class. Just wanted to let you both know again how wonderful a time I had at Cloudbridge, and I think about the beautiful mountains often. I know I only stayed a short time at Cloudbridge, but it meant a lot to me. I like to keep up with the blog, and Matt always posts the most amazing photos!”
Siobhan was a volunteer at Cloudbridge in 2013
These photos are courtesy of our volunteers, Jan and Fabian.