return to top.


Friends of the Great Green Macaw, Inc


Annual Report


June 1, 2002 - December 31, 2003

The Mission of Friends of the Great Green Macaw (FGGM) is to Preserve and Rehabilitate the habitat and population of the Great Green Macaw in Costa Rica, to protect the biodiversity in the ecosystems in which it is found. We will accomplish this thru the creation of local and private conservation initiatives. This annual report covers a year and a half, from June 1, 2002 – Dec. 31, 2003. This extra time allowed us to change our annual reporting cycle from June to May cycle to a Jan. to Dec. cycle.
During this last cycle, Friends of the Great Green Macaw experienced many changes. We moved from El Retorno to Bosque Tropical del Toro. We set up an office in Chilamate, Costa Rica, and began developing the Costa Rica Bird Route: Section San Juan – La Selva. We lost a great board member in Stephanie Schmid, but gained a CPA as our treasurer. Our volunteer program took off and we had nearly 40 people volunteer their time with us. All of these points, along with other activities are further laid out in this Annual Report.

Conservation Activities
In 2002-2003, FGGM focused its conservation activities on Education, Reforestation and Research.

Education Programs
Friends of the Great Green Macaw personal were able to reach at least 800 people with our education programs this year. We directly presented information to about 450 people and in-directly communicated to at least 400 people, while simply talking with people on the streets or at conferences etc. This years highlights included a number of presentations at schools in Costa Rica. We talked about the Great Green Macaw and its importance, planted trees and introduced the kids to binocular and field guide use. We also held presentations for college courses traveling in Costa Rica. Many presentations were held with conservation organizations in Costa Rica in regard to developing the Costa Rica Bird Route. At the 2nd Annual Bi-national Macaw Festival, we guided a birding tour, and assisted with all of the environmental education programs for children.

In the states we gave presentations to a number of Bird Clubs, Nature Centers and Conservation Organizations.

Last year we finished our reforestation project at Finca El Retorno, planting an additional 600 trees, leaving us with over 1,500 trees planted on this property. When we moved to Bosque Tropical del Toro (BTT) we planted an additional 150 trees. At BTT however, the owner of the property was already engaged in a reforestation program so our work switched from planting trees to caring for some 20,000 trees. We also began a seed bank from trees in the forest and began germinating and replanting them. In addition, we assisted a couple of other local sites purchase and plant trees on their properties (100 trees).

We are most proud of the 10 trees we provided that were planted by the Minister of the Environment of Costa Rica and the Vice Minister of the Environment of Nicaragua with children during the inauguration of the 2nd Annual Bi-national Macaw Festival.

Biological Surveys
At El Retorno we concluded our biological surveys. Our mammal surveys ended with 21 species, including river otter, ocelot and Felis onca also known as the Jaguar. Our herp (reptile and amphibian) numbers concluded at 40 species, and our bird survey ended at 207 species. For our point count bird surveys we had 87 data collection days. We conducted a Christmas Bird Count at El Retorno and we were up from 81 species in 2001 to 93 species in 2002. We also made 146 observations of Great Green Macaws over this time period.

At BTT we began species inventories, however data collection for point count bird surveys was difficult and intermittent. By the end of the year however we had observed 125 species of Birds, 17 species of butterflies, 9 species of mammals, again including a jaguar sighting, and 26 species of reptiles and amphibians.

In 2002, we also assisted Tirimbina Rainforest Center with their Christmas Bird Count. The FGGM group identified 94 species, and in total the list was over 150 species for the day.

Our agriculture output and impact was slightly diminished this year simply due to the interests of the personnel that we had working with us. We did expand the gardens at El Retorno before we left, and also left the site with a young orchard of over 40 fruit trees. We did similar things at BTT. This year was highlighted by the opportunity to participate in two sustainable development courses, one at the Punta Mona Center for Sustainable Development and another in the municipality of San Carlos.

Overall we learned a great deal about tropical agriculture. We talked with locals and traded plants and growing tips. At different times of the year we were able to provide supplemental foodstuffs for our volunteers, which has been one of our goals for the agriculture program.

Bird Route
The overall goal of this proposed Birding Route is to increase the amount of habitat under protection for the endangered Great Green Macaw and for the biodiversity within the San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor.

FGGM President Andrew Rothman developed the idea of this birding route in the spring of 2002. With FGGM’s work with development of the SSBC, it was natural that FGGM propose a bird trail though the potential Biological Corridor.

In 2002 and 2003 FGGM began to contact Trail creators in the US and connected with Fermata, Inc. and also began to propose the idea to locals, and other conservation groups.
Friends of the Great Green Macaw began meeting with local groups in the winter of 2003 and continue to meet with groups. Friends of the Great Green Macaw have met with the following groups:

  • ABAS: Local association for protection of the environment
  • ANASA: Local naturalist guide association
  • ASCOMAFOR: Local association for environmental and community well being
  • CEDERENA: National environmental law association
  • Executive Committee SSBC
  • Laguna Lagarto Lodge
  • National Great Green Macaw Commission
  • National Ornithological Society of Costa Rica
  • Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center
  • Selva Verde Lodge
  • Red de Reservas Privadas: National Private Reserve Network
  • Tirimbina Rainforest Center
  • VIDA: National association for environmental programs and volunteers

With these meetings FGGM received support for the development of a conservation route that would be called the Costa Rican Bird Route: Section San Juan — La Selva. Of extreme importance was the support of the Executive Committee SSBC to develop this project as part of the San Juan — La Selva Biological Corridor. Friends of the Great Green Macaw also received word from the Minister of the Environment of Costa Rica, that he supported the creation of the Great Costa Rica Bird Route as well.

After receiving support for the project, FGGM began to do two things.

First, FGGM began to visit potential sites to develop a preliminary and demonstration Bird Route. To assist with site visitation and information gathering FGGM hired Maria Victoria Chiriboga from Saint Leo University in Florida as an intern. The information gathered on each site can be found in Section III of this report. Sites that were initially visited by FGGM were (in alphabetical order):

    1. Bosque Tropical del Toro
    2. Garza Azul
    3. Gavilan Lodge
    4. Isla Verde Refuge
    5. Laguna Lagarto Lodge
    6. Laguna de Tambor
    7. La Quinta Country Inn
    8. Lomas Sardinal
    9. Rancho Leona
    10. Reserva Quebrada Grande
    11. Reserva Rio Tres Amigos – Santa Elena
    12. Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center
    13. Selva Verde Lodge
    14. Tirimbina Rainforest Center

Second, FGGM further accentuated the project by refining and developing a concept note and proposal that could be sent to potential donating agencies. This process is still continuing. FGGM applied for funding for this route from the following granting agencies:

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (2002)

Wildlife Trust / Species Survival Fund (2002)

The Max and Anna Levinson Foundation (2003)

Conservation International / Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) (2003)

Friends of the Great Green Macaw spent a lot of time developing these proposals, in particular for CEPF funding, but were unable to secure funding for the proposed Bird Route.

In addition to these documents FGGM began developing a Code of the Ethics that is to be a guide for participating site owners and managers. We are also developing a questionnaire for landowners within the proposed San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor, including those within the proposed Maquenque National Park. Both these documents are still being edited and improved by FGGM, Executive Committee SSBC, and others.

Currently in regards to this Bird Route, FGGM is editing the Strategic Development Plan for the San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor. Within this Plan FGGM will include its proposed plan for developing the Costa Rica Bird Route: Section San Juan – La Selva. We are also in the continual process of perfecting our proposal, researching potential grants and applying for funding.

Other Activities

San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor
As a founding member of the San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor Committee we participated in 10 regular meetings as well as special sessions. These sessions included meetings were FGGM assisted with the development of funding proposals, where we outlined objectives for the corridor and new national park and where we edited and translated promotional materials for the Corridor. We also had the opportunity to participate in educational and developmental workshops in Nicaragua including the 2nd Annual Bi-national Macaw Festival. We participated in an education exchange program with the conservation organization ASEPALECO in the Nicoya Peninsula where they are developing a Biological Corridor.

Friends of the Great Green Macaw also took on the role of developing tourism plans for the corridor and continued to develop the Costa Rica Bird Route within the San Juan – La Selva Corridor.

Festivals and Conferences
Friends of the Great Green Macaw hosted and / or participated in a number of festivals and conferences this year. We held our first annual FGGM General Membership Meeting, and two Benefit Concerts in Stevens Point. We also participated in the annual Eco-fair at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and as mentioned earlier the 2nd Annual Bi-national Macaw Festival. Friends of the Great Green Macaw also participated in the Young Environmentalist Field Day with ASCOMAFOR in community of Santa Elena.
Volunteer Program
In June 2002 we began our summer intern and volunteer program, which manifested into a continual volunteer program for the whole year. From June ’02 –Dec. ’03 over 40 volunteers assist us with our projects in Costa Rica for some period of time. The volunteers represented 11 countries. The volunteers were:

Scott Hocking
Robin Elahi
Jeremy Sullivan
Dan Schnieder
Lisa Wetterlin
Rebecca Geunther
Dave Boehnlein
Marla Schwarzfeld
Laurie Weaver
Andrea Alvaro
Mae Culumber
Sol Tours
Colin Hutten
Bj Wagner
Brian Kitzerow
Justin Kaliszewski
Elissa Pederson
Tibor Tamas
Frascisco de España
Maria Victoria Chiriboga
Amy Jorgensen

Angela Braun
Lynn Moltzau
John Ferrans
Nora Koim
Bennet Hewitt
Stephanie Schmid
Tim Hagert
Miguel Diaz
Ken Pederson
Justin Eastman
Andrew Rothman
Raquel Gomez
Christian Wiesser
Ulises Aleman
Jamie Wichman
Karine Pignorel
Gina de Pangea
Guido Quesada
Adrian Poveda
Andres Poveda
Patricia Triaguas

Additionally, we had help in the US from:

Bobbie Webster
Lynne Currie
John Borgen
Bill Volkert
Russ Rothman
Jeff Kuckenbecher
Steve Mahler

Stephanie Schmid
Kyle Brown-Kwaiser
Rebecca Geunter
Mae Culumber
Tim Hagert
Andrew Rothman


As mentioned in the intro our Board changed since June 2002. Bill Volkert became our Secretary. Steve Mahler joined the board as a vocal. Carl Leopold was given a lifetime Honorary Membership. Stephanie Schmid stepped down as the Secretary. Russ Rothman took over this position, which allowed Jeff Kuckenbecher to become our Treasurer.

General membership

In 2002 –2003we had 39 total members, up from 26 in 2001-2002.
Of these 39 only 6 were renewals which means we gained 33 new members.

Between June 2002 and Dec. 2003 we published Newsletters 8 through 16.
Our newsletter mailing list is now over 200.

Our Website was updated and maintained.

FGGM had a student chapter at UW- Stevens Point.
But after one year the chapter was too difficult to keep going.



Cash/Funds Raised:

Benefit Concerts
Income from Costa Rica
Cash Donations
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED (6/2002 - 12/2003)
Work 2002
Work 2003

Total Work Value Donated
Russell Advertising
(Promotion Development, Production, Consultation, Travel, Web)
Litho Productions (Printing)
$2, 308.00
Supplies and Equipment(books, binoculars, etc)
$ 4,205.70
TOTAL In-Kind:
$112,897. 41



Office Supplies: Cost of items needed for Office Use (stamps, etc)
Organizational Costs: Cost of fees and items needed for basic upkeep/ overhead of org (website fees, etc)
Promo: Costs of merchandise, events, or other promotional related expenses (Stickers, Band fees, etc)
Staff Business Expenses: Costs for staff to conduct business (food, loging, gas, etc) (note some portion of costs spent in Costa Rica)


Office Supplies
Organizational Costs
Staff Business expenses


Transport: Money used for transportation for project director
Project Funds: Money needed for functioning of Projects ( Equipment, trees, office supplies, etc)
Living Expenses: Money needed for living expenses for Project Director (Rent, groceries, house needs)
Andy's Expenses: Money reimbursed to Andy for personally paid living expenses in CR (Lodging, meetings)
Income: Money taken in from donations of volunteer fees and other donations

Project Funds
Living Expenses
Andy's Expenses
TOTAL $ 2,035.28

TOTAL EXPENDITURES 6/02 –12/03: 6014.05