By Irene Artiñano Banegas, Student in the first annual Costa Rican Restoration & Rewilding Field Course
I learned a lot during my two months in the Restoration & Rewilding Field Course at Osa Conservation. Our adventures included installing camera traps to monitor the activity of different mammals, walking through the forest learning (and hearing their crazy stories) from Luis Poveda, entering the cave of a giant tree that is over 100 years old, participating in my first bird count, seeing one of the last coral reefs of Golfo Dulce, and designing and presenting my first project on restoration and “rewilding.” These are just some of the many new and incredible experiences that I had the opportunity to experience here, and I want to share some of my favorite moments with you all.
I had never worked with bats. I do not know much about them and although they seem cute, their study has never attracted me. However, my perception changed when I learned much more about them during the Restoration & Rewilding Field Course. From the beginning, the talk with professor Gloriana Chaverrí was very interesting. She presents with a passion that is captivating and makes one forget they ever thought that bats are ugly. The importance of them in the ecosystem is very undervalued, and there are many myths and legends about bats that always make us keep them at arms length.
Another interesting experience was learning about mangroves. I have always loved plants; I like to learn about how they work, what their names are, how we can use them, and how to grow them. However, I had never thought about mangrove cultivation. Learning about this restoration project really surprised me.
After the destruction of the mangrove, the land is now being invaded by a type of fern that does not allow the mangrove to regrow. Then, nurseries have been created to reproduce the mangrove plants and plant them in lands where the fern has been removed, with the intention of restoring this ecosystem. As people says, “I take my hat off” to those who have done this work, since the conditions are really hard and I hope that the project will go ahead given the immense importance of the mangrove.
A shared perspective between all of the teachers of the course is that there is still opportunity for change and to reverse the effects of extensive destruction that we have caused. I feel really inspired after seeing so much work that is done (and that remains to be done), as well as motivated to contribute personally.