Friends of the Great Green Macaw, Inc
Jan. 1, 2004 through December 31, 2004
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, and to protect the biodiversity in the ecosystems in which it is found. We accomplish this through the creation of local and private conservation initiatives. This annual report covers the calendar year of 2004.
The year 2004 began on a low note as at the end of 2003 the volunteer program at Bosque Tropical del Toro began to collapse. The volunteer coordinator at the time had trouble coordinating the workload and volunteers were living under very difficult conditions. The organization was without a Director in Costa Rica as Andrew Rothman was in the US with a family medical emergency. In addition, the living conditions at BTT were becoming more and more unbearable with intermittent water, and uncontrollable grass growth. The grass encroached seemingly faster then it could be cut, leaving the volunteers to feel as if they were trapped in field of "corn", or in this case grass. The grass also brought a high load of insects that proved to be annoying in the open-air living setting. This led to the dismantling of volunteer operations at Bosque Tropical del Toro.
Andrew returned in February, with Jim Dinsmore who was to be trained as the next Costa Rican Director, and with new volunteers. Operations were moved to the Rain Ranch property 10 km N of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui near the community of La Esperanza. Improvements to Rain Ranch and the office in Chilamate were made. It turned out that Jim was not a good fit for the organization. Anna Hjarne, a native of Sweden, who joined the organization as a volunteer, was promoted to replace Andrew as Interim Project Director in Costa Rica. Anna led the organization for the months of March and April. During her time she managed the volunteers at Rain Ranch who were conducting various biological surveys, creating and clearing hiking trails and assisting with the development of the Rainforest Vanilla Conservation Association. Anna also represented Amigos de la Lapa Verde, and hosted an informational booth at the III Annual Bi-National Macaw Festival, which in 2004 was held in our back yard of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui.
In May, Harmony Patricio took over as Project Director in Costa Rica, and Blair Bumgarner became Volunteer Coordinator. Roles were split to allow Harmony to concentrate on the further development of the San Juan- La Selva Bird Route, and our Adopt-a-Tree Program, while Blair assisted and guided the summer volunteer staff. Harmony and Blair remain Co- Project Directors.
Throughout 2004 some tangible progress was made for the conservation of the Green Macaws and their habitat in Northern Costa Rica, here are some of the highlights. An Almendro tree with a macaw nest was officially adopted with the financial support of a local family and FGGM donations. We conducted a celebration to commemorate the tree and received national television coverage of our programs. The high school students of the small village showed immense interest in conservation and the green macaw, and hope to build a new high school that focuses on ecology, biology, and naturalist training.
We were also inspired by the initiative of the youth the small village of La Quezada, Nicaragua. While participating in a Bi-National workshop on the biology and conservation of the Green Macaw with our companions of the San Juan - La Selva Biological Corridor, we met a group of young people who have created a wildlife preserve in their community. We also shared information about our programs with the residents of the area, and conducted a program on the Green Macaw for the primary school children. It was incredibly inspiring to see young people so committed to conservation, despite their challenging living conditions.
We made contacts with some landowners in order to continue the development of the Bird Route. We also made a connection with a nearby community that manages their own reserve and needs support in monitoring and conservation of the forest. Hopefully their inclusion in the Bird Route will provide the resources they need to protect their reserve from poaching and illegal logging.
Of course, FGGM is in need of resources as well, and we came very close to getting that big grant we have been waiting for. The Inter-American Foundation selected our proposal for a site visit out of over 1,800 proposals that they received (only about 80 other projects were selected along with ours). We hosted their representative in early December, and spent a few days introducing him to the Bird Route sites and communities, as well as re-working the grant proposal. He was incredibly positive, and very impressed with our projects. Unfortunately, he was not the final decision maker. The Inter-American Foundation Committee, which makes the final decision, chose at the last minute not to fund any projects in Costa Rica this year. We will submit the proposal again for the next round of grants, and hopefully we will be successful this time.
The most important achievement this past year was the development a local nonprofit association here in Sarapiqu�. In order to ensure lasting conservation and continuation of the projects a strong network of local activists and supporters must be developed, and we have furthered this process by supporting local people in the organization of their own association with the goal of protecting the forest of the Green Macaw. We hope that in the future this local organization will have the capacity to choose, direct and manage the projects in Costa Rica while FGGM supports them through fundraising and promotional efforts. In the year that Blair and Harmony have spent in Costa Rica it has become clear that we must depend on the local people to take the lead in preserving their forests, but we can support their efforts through volunteer labor and acquisition of funding.
In the US, the summer of 2004 played host to this organizations largest fundraising event to date. Saturday July 24th, 2004 Friends of the Great Green Macaw held the Rainforest Benefit Concert at Luther's Blues in Madison, WI. The event featured four great local bands, cuisine from the Rainforests of Laos, and a silent auction of prizes donated from nearly 30 local Madison businesses. The event was a success as over 300 people attended.
Fundraising efforts continued in the US during 2004 as 3 funding proposals were written and educational presentations were conducted for various organizations and groups, as well as for the general public as we participated in the 2004 Waterfront Festival in Madison, WI. In December 2004 and January 2005 we conducted the FGGM Phone-a-Thon that raised nearly $2,000 thanks to our generous supporters. Also as previously mentioned in 2004 we adopted our first Great Green Macaw Nest in Costa Rica with the help of Tod Highsmith.
The year of 2004 provided some of the best moments for the organization but also some of the worst. Fundraising continues to be the largest issue that the organization faces. Speaking of faces, more changes will be happening in 2005 as the face of our organization changes hands as Harmony Partrico becomes the President and our organization changes its name to the Rainforest Biodiversity Group. Below is a more detailed summary of Friends of the Great Green Macaw's activities in 2004.
In 2004, FGGM focused its conservation activities on the development and promotion of the Costa Rica Bird Route: Section San Juan - La Selva, and education and outreach.
Promotion of Activities/ Outreach:
San Juan - La Selva Biological Corridor (CBSS):
Festivals and Conferences:
Fundraising and Grant Writing:
The Executive Board 2004:
The Advisory Board 2004:
US Funds Raised / Donations:
In-Kind Donations: $35,523.35
Costa Rica Funds Raised:
EXPENDITURES COSTA RICA:
TOTAL EXPENDITURES COSTA RICA AND USA: $8048.74