Tropical Ecology & Conservation Leadership Course Remarks

Blog by: Natalia Gómez Solano, student at the Tropical Ecology & Conservation Leadership Course

“Only what is loved is protected and only what is known is loved” –Jacques Cousteau.

We have spent six weeks at Osa Conservation, which has allowed us to get to know various ecosystems within the Osa Peninsula. Personally, I am in love with the Peninsula, it is an incredible place and always surprising, where small details constitute its immensity. In the course we have learned a variety of skills and acquired knowledge that supports our professional development. At the same time, the course has encouraged our personal growth, also considering the coexistence skills we have acquired. In addition, I have had the opportunity to meet incredible, passionate people, with a lot of knowledge, with different interests but goals in the same direction: the conservation and protection of natural resources.

Coral reefs at Punta Adela, taken during the visit to Golfo Dulce. Taken by: Jorge de la O.

We have had a mix of exciting and challenging days. We have had super exciting days, and at the same time, difficult. They have been days of learning, laughter, discussions, stories and surprises. During the course we learned about river conservation, agroecology, restoration of tropical forests, uses of drones in ecology, mangrove restoration, marine conservation and coral restoration, among others. In addition, the course it addresses the importance of communication for conservation, as well as the development of photographic material. Of all the messages we have received, I consider this one of the most important: the need to communicate environmental research and projects. This is one of the tools that allow us to have a greater impact, popularize knowledge and obtain allies, all of which are critical for solving conservation and environmental problems.

Picture took at the Golfo Dulce visit; an amazing place where the tropical forest hugs the sea. Photo: Natalia Gómez.

Also, the important role of working with communities has been emphasized in the course. If you want an area development based on biodiversity, the community is a key actor that brings the necessary experience to succeed in the continuity of the project. A particular case within Osa Conservation is the restoration project of the Térraba-Sierpe mangrove, where restoration techniques have been designed by technicians and experts in the field. However, without the support and leadership of the community and especially of the Asociación de Piangüeros y Recursos Marinos y Afines (APREMAA) the restoration process would not be possible because they have been key in the monitoring and maintenance of the plots. In addition, the coordination that has been achieved in the execution and the synergy that exists between both parties is impressive.

Picture took during the visit to Térraba-Sierpe mangrove. In the picture: don Adrián (presidente de APREMAA), Jonathan Navarro (Healthy Rivers Program coordinator), Jorge de la O, Eblim Pereira y Natalia Gómez (field course students) y Javier Rodríguez (Mangroves). Photo: Javier Rodríguez.

Finally, the process of restoration of the Térraba-Sierpe mangrove is an example situation where sustainable development is promoted, since the environmental, social and economic aspects of the area (Ajuntaderas de Sierpe, Puntarenas) are taken into consideration. I strongly believe that one of the great lessons of this course is that it is impossible to conserve and reduce the impacts on the environment without considering the entire socio-economic context of a site.

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Intern Osa Conservation
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