Reserva Playa Tortuga:
A Synergy of Conservation Science and Activism
General Area of Study:
The general area of study is the Osa Conservation Area (ACOSA), which is located in the Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica- from the river mouth of the Baru River in Dominical reaching until Punta Burica (which is the southern pacific coastal border between Panama and Costa Rica). This area includes the mangroves of the Terraba-Sierpe basin, Cano Island, and the Osa Penninsula/Golfo Dulce areas. There are many ongoing conservation projects in this area right now, covering diverse subject matters. However they are mostly related to terrestrial concerns. The Osa Peninsula’s Marine environment has actually received very little study and still needs to be generally defined and described with regards to the marine environments. Marine Turtles and Mangrove areas are two important examples. Up until now conservation actions and scientific Studies in the Northern Osa have been extremely limited in scope and lacked co-ordination with other projects. Our Immediate Short Term Study Area is: Playa Tortuga. Located at the coordinates- 09º04.5381`LN y 83º40.3096`LO. The beach itself is approximately 2.5km and is surround by mangrove, the Terraba river, and Pacific Ocean. We plan to inventory and monitor the beach, mangroves, and river immediately surrounding the beach.
WHY DO CONSERVATION?- WHY HERE?- WHAT DOES IT MEAN GLOBALY, LOCALLY, LONGTERM?
Reserva Playa Tortuga is a biological research, education and conservation facility whose mission is to insure the long term health and sustainability of BOTH the environment and people. It is a place where scientists and the local and international community can come together to take responsibility for the future. Reserva Playa Tortuga strives to create 'Citizen Scientists'; engendering a sense of individual responsibility and stewardship in the community. We are a part of the paradigm shift away from a culture of waste and inefficiency. The next stage of life for humanity is growth through sustainability-conservation of resources- aggressive thoughtless consumption of resources is turning out to be unsustainable for the planet- “. . .apathy is the real killer of conservation. You know, I’m 71 years old. So I’ve seen [biodiversity] go from vibrancy all around us — wild forests everywhere — to trashed and void landscapes in my lifetime. So I remember what it was like when there was primary forest right up the side of the road, on 50 percent of the roads in Costa Rica. Today there’s none — it’s all gone. The only piece of intact forest on a paved road in Costa Rica is 22 hectares. And that piece is the only piece between the Panama Canal and Mazatlan, Mexico. Which I can say with authority because I have driven all of those roads. Now, the next generation — the one that’s got the laptops and the iPods and the Google access — has not seen that. The landscape you see today is their ground zero. This creates apathy of two kinds. One is they don’t have any idea what could be there. They don’t have any idea of what they, themselves, could be seeing, or what they could have in their backyard. . .What this does, of course, is creates for them a world where the biodiversity they are exposed to is that which they get electronically. The butterfly’s only a picture on your laptop screen. And the only way that societies will be tolerant of big chunks of nature is if those big chunks are offering them something. And if you’re blind to what’s in it, you’ve suddenly cut the list of what it can offer you down very severely.”
( Daniel Janzen and Learning to Read the Planet Yale Environment 360, 25 Mar 10).
Biodiversity in the ecosystem is important for human survival; for example, mangroves act as a nursery for many of the fish species which are consumed by people, and riparian corridors along streams help protect water quality. Many plant and animal species provide direct benefits in the way of food, building materials,energy, medicines, or for their cultural value. Other benefits are less obvious but even more essential for our survival e.g. by pollinating crops, sequestering carbon and producing the oxygen we breathe . Interactions between adjacent habitats, such as along the coastal zone, are an important mechanism in promoting the high biodiversity of the OSA. It is also important to identify species which are important for maintaining ecosystem integrity due to their ecological interactions. Changes in the populations of these functionally important species can have cascading effects throughout the ecosystem.
In addition to the importance of knowing what and where species are, biodiversity inventories provide the foundation for many other kinds of studies e.g. monitoring, comparative and ecological studies. Measuring abundance as well as species composition can help identify rare or endangered species that may be especially vulnerable. It will also provide a baseline for future studies that can monitor long-term population dynamics in relation to past or future environmental changes.
Understanding how species respond to various kinds of land-use and other types of human activities, as well as how habitats and species recover following these disturbances, is also a conservation priority. The current study (inventory and monitoring) the mangroves and riparian zones, (which are virtually unstudied in this area and are extremely vulnerable to human activities), contain many unique and important species. Studies identifying and monitoring which species are sensitive or resilient to environmental changes can strengthen general knowledge forge or change development policies,monitor and also identify potential causes of species declines. Measurements of environmental variables that may affect the keystone species can also strengthen the interpretation of observed patterns.
Monitoring of the dynamics of populations over time provides information that is even more useful for conservation. Monitoring data can be used to understand the influence of many different environmental variables on species’ population size and persistence. It also describes the trajectory of population increase or decrease which can be used to identify which species need protection or to evaluate conservation success. Many of the priorities for species inventories apply to monitoring for the same reasons. The focus of our inventory and monitoring of the species and habitats in the defined study area will emphasize- endemic and over-exploited or endangered species; we will also focus on species (once identified) that are especially ecologically important or that are charismatic or important for people. Such species may provide ecosystem services or may have intrinsic or other value for local people, or may benefit the region by boosting eco-tourism. We hope to monitor changes in populations associated with ongoing disturbances, such as various kinds of land-use, hunting and fishing, as well as the subsequent recovery of habitats and populations due to recently renewed conservation efforts.
Certain species merit higher conservation priority than others for the reasons as described above, and basic information about the ecology of these species is important for their protection. Identifying the specific threats and potential causes of decline or extinction for these target species is perhaps the most important task for designing and implementing a conservation strategy. Part of this knowledge comes from an understanding of which types of habitats these species require or are able to use, as well as their potential resource limitations. Predators and other factors may also play important roles. Since much of the area we will study is consists a mixture of habitats, it is important to understand how individuals move across the landscape, as well as how much area they require.
How You Can Participate:
CONTACT US: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reserva Playa Tortuga Telephone: (506) 2786 5200
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Playa Tortuga Marine Turtle Conservation Program