Volunteer in Costa Rica in rainforest and marine conservation
This is a conservation project in the beautiful Osa peninsula of Costa Rica, where 2% of the world’s biodiversity can be found in one place. It is run by a non-profit organisation aiming to preserve a pristine area of rainforest by promoting good land stewardship and agro-ecology, backed by research and education.
They are maintaining and expanding one of the world’s best biodiversity hotspots by slowly buying back areas of forest from private owners to create more national park. The project planted over 85,000 trees on one year alone and works with six local schools to educate the local community as a priority.
The project covers an area of rainforest stretching down to coast, so is ideal for those interested in both forest conservation and marine conservation. Wildlife in this area is under threat from deforestation from agriculture, coastal pollution from plastics drifting in across the pacific ocean and pollution from agricultural pesticides.
The project has three main areas of animal conservation: sea turtles, wild cats and amphibians. Volunteers help with observing and recording populations and encounters. Turtles are given additional protection during the nesting when nests are protected from predation.
Volunteers interested in working with wild cats should note these species are nocturnal and shy, so direct sightings are scarce. The project has a series of infrared night cameras to monitor and capture their appearance. Training will be given in the identification of local species and how to record scientific data. Good observational skills are required.
The project is currently building an organic garden to supply the ranger and volunteer centre with food. So if you have gardening skills you would be welcome to come and help with this project.
This volunteering experience is suitable for student gap year volunteers and those with a passion for outdoor living, research and conservation.
A typical day may be 7am until 2 or 3pm. Turtle watches during nesting seasons may involve overnight work. Volunteers walk trails identifying and recording observations of wildlife and their behaviours. Sightings are recorded, wildlife found is weighed and measured. Infrared motion sensitive night cameras are monitored for footage of nocturnal animals.
Training is given and volunteers are expected to write up their findings in the research station library which has computers and internet. Priorities at the moment are on studying amphibians, wild cats and sea turtles.
Volunteers are also involved in clearing vegetation from paths to keep the trails clear and occasional beach clean ups, as well as tree planting if your visit coincides with a planting day.
For those with an interest in gardening there is opportunity to help establish a new organic vegetable garden to supply the centre.
The activities and interest of volunteers helps in a number of ways; maintaining a unique biodiverse habitat, adding to the scientific understanding of the forest environment, its wildlife and the effects of pollution, and educating local people on the importance of conservation and repopulating a rainforest. Currently this project would not be able to fund local workers or attract local volunteers to do the same job.
I just wanted to let you know that I finished my last day of volunteering here in Costa Rica today. It's been a fantastic experience and I cannot fault anything!, Student, Costa Rica