Friends of the Great Green Macaw, Inc.


                                                                                                                        7 N. Pinckney St

Newsletter 14, No.7 Vol. 2                        Suite 210

August/ Sept. 2003                                                                                         Madison, WI 53703



In this issue of our newsletter I would like to take the time to reintroduce all of our readers to our organization, Friends of the Great Green Macaw, our accomplishments and what we are continuing to do as an organization.  I have been away from the daily activities of our organization, and maybe you have been away too.

 I would also like to note that Friends of the Great Green Macaw depends on the support of its members.  Unfortunately, 2003 has been a slow year for recruiting new members.  To top that, many of our original members have not renewed their memberships.  This is starting to show its effects, and FGGM will begin to have serious financial problems keeping its self alive if we do not continue to receive your support.  With this being said I am calling upon all of our members, and all of you who receive this newsletter who aren’t members to come through and help us continue to function by purchasing or renewing a membership with Friends of the Great Green Macaw.  Checks can be sent to the address at the top of this newsletter. Thank you.


Andrew Rothman




Who are Friends of the Great Green Macaw? And what do they do?


Friends of the Great Green Macaw is a 501c3 environmental non-profit organization.  We are based out of Madison, Wisconsin, but work in the Central American country of Costa Rica.  Here we help locals protect habitat for the biodiversity within the tropical rainforests that surround them, and in particular for the gravely endangered Great Green Macaw (Ara ambigua).

            Our first project in Costa Rica was with a local name Jose Herrero.  We worked with him on his Finca El Retorno.  Here we implemented a native species reforestation project over two years.  We reforested approximately 10 hectares, with thousands of saplings of trees that the macaws and other species of wildlife are fond of.  These included the, now famous, Alemendro (Dipteryx panamensis) and other species.  At El Retorno we also began collecting base line data on what bird species were present in the reforestation areas at the time of tree planting by conducting point count bird surveys.  We are still in the process of totaling this data.  In addition we catalogued all bird, mammal and herp (reptile or amphibian) species found.  We observed over 200 species of bird, endangered mammals such as the Jaguar (tracks and scat), and Spider Monkey, and a number of incredibly large Boa Constrictors. 

            On this farm we monitored three Great Green Macaw nests, and recorded macaw observations daily.  In addition we began experimenting with organic agriculture, and maintained 7 gardens and started an orchard of fruit trees. 

            After completing our work at Finca El Retorno, this last spring we moved our operations to a new farm called Bosque Tropical del Toro (BTT), owned by Costa Rican Guido Mauricio Quesada.  Guido has been pro-active in initiating a reforestation program and has already reforested 20+ hectares with native species (update in this newsletter).  At this farm we assist Guido care for these trees, and also hope to plant an additional 500 – 1000 trees along the bank of the Rio Toro where the farm resides.  We are also conducting a point count bird survey within the reforestation area, and hope to compare data between El Retorno and BTT in the near future.  Additionally, we will catalogue biodiversity on BTT, develop small organic agriculture plots, and also help develop BTT for sustainable tourism.

            We have not observed the Great Green Macaw as often as on El Retorno, but we have observed the also endangered Scarlet Macaw more often at BTT.  We believe that to keep the Great Green Macaw in the area this reforestation project is very important, as is increasing the amount of environmental knowledge in the local community.

            At both farms much of the work has been, and will continue to be completed by volunteers and interns (more info at  We take pride in giving students and conservationists the opportunity to immerse themselves in to the Spanish speaking Costa Rican culture and also the opportunity to work on a meaningful project in the tropicals.

            On top of the efforts at these two farms, Friends of the Great Green Macaw, give informational and educational talks both in Costa Rica and the US, to school children, University students, bird groups and tourists alike.  We have spread the word of the plight of the Great Green Macaw and its habitat to thousands of people. 

            Friends are also supporting and helping to develop a new national park in Costa Rica called Mequenque National Park, part of the proposed San Juan – La Selva Biolgical Corridor; which if implemented will protect the most critical breeding zone of the Great Green remaining in Costa Rica.  To help bring sustainable tourism to the area of the Great Green Macaw and to the Mequenque National Park, we are proposing the development of the Great Northern Costa Rica Bird Route, which will help promote and link bird watching sites within the biological corridor.

            For the remainder of 2003 we will be focusing our efforts on continuing the development the aforementioned bird trail, stabilizing our projects at BTT, continuing our education efforts, and keeping our eyes open for other projects in which the services of Friends of the Great Green Macaw may be useful.




New shelter being used as capacity remains at 4

In our first summer working at BTT we were able to bring in a number of volunteers that continued to move BTT and our projects forward.  These short term volunteers, some staying only for a week or two, and others just coming on weekends, were able to finish the construction of the new housing units at BTT, care for the reforestation areas, and collect data on birds of the farm.

Although we were planning to increase the capacity to 8 in august, the weather conditions and low level of activities during the rainy season delayed the works until next dry season.  Construction may commence again around February 2004. 

Over the next few months we will have a number of new volunteers working for us.  This includes John Ferrans of England, Nora Koim of Germany, Bennet Hewitt- Harrington, and Fred Manar of the US. We wish them luck with their projects.


Sucesores de Jesús Corrales withdraws from BTT


Due mainly to financial pressure for short-term income and poor initial results with reforestation due to grass competition, Sucesores de Jesús Corrales (SJC), aborted its 35 hectare reforestation project and will dedicate the land to cattle and traditional agriculture and no longer be part of BTT.  This means BTT will consist of only the farm owned by Guido Mauricio Quesada and that approximately 203 total hectares are removed from the project.  Nevertheless, out of those 203 ha, 115 ha will still remain under forest management and conservation for payment of environmental services until 2007. 

Currently, 188 ha remain protected as BTT.  Of this 24 Ha has been reforested (about 20,000 native species trees, including almendro, pilon, cebo, cenizaro, espavel, caoba, caobilla, cedro maría, sotacaballo and roble coral).  About 1 ha will remain available for permaculture or additional reforestation and 7 more hectares may be left to reforest through natural regeneration. One fourth of a hectare will be used for the volunteer shelters.


Memo and Dina's family leave La Union


A couple of wonderful friends of BTT left the little town of La Union (across the river from BTT) seeking new job opportunities.  Memo is currently in Pital, and Dina & the kids are provisionally at her mother's in Los Angeles (about 5 km north of La Union).  We will miss their advice and help as well as their excellent cooking.  The future of their new restaurant, which they were about to open, is uncertain.  Don Rubén and Doña Petrona, Dina's grandparents, are also considering moving to Puerto Viejo, to live in retirement with some of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Their house might become available to operate a larger volunteer shelter or a bed & breakfast.




               Friends of the Great Green Macaw recently added Tim Hagert to the organization.  Tim is currently serving as an intern/volunteer for the Friends of the Great Green Macaw working on grant writing in an effort to raise funds for the proposed bird route. Tim was in Costa Rica for the month of August contacting various foundations, and gathering information to include in grant application packets. He visited several sites which might be included in the bird route loop(s), interviewing property owners and gathering information about the feasibility of their sites.
               Tim has a BA in anthropology from SUNY Potsdam. After this Tim went to Belize for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer working as an agricultural extension agent where he compiled a pesticide and environmental safety manual. Tim then served three years as a volunteer in Zambia working as an aquaculture extension agent teaching rural farmers to raise the species Oreochromis niloticus. Tim was on summer break from his pursuit of a Master’s degree in International Environmental Policy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. Here Tim will continue working and researching grant possibilities for the Bird Trail.

Friends of the Great Green Macaw also added Jeff Kuchenbecker to our Board of Directors. Jeff will take over as Treasurer for the year 2004.  As a certified accountant Jeff will bring a lot of credibility to our organization, and keep our on top of our finances.                          

Jeff attended the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh graduating in 1979 after a three-year stint in the United States Army. His public accounting career began in 1980 with a local CPA firm in Reedsburg, Wisconsin where he gained extensive small business, tax and accounting experience. Jeff obtained his CPA certificate in 1983 and joined Meicher & Associates, LLP in 1985. Jeff earned certification as a Certified Financial Planner in 1988 and became a firm partner in 1990.                                                                                                                                      

Jeff is currently a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and the Information Technology and Personal Financial Planning sections of the AICPA.                                                                                              

Areas of Specialized Knowledge: Small business consulting, individual income taxation, corporate and partnership income taxation, accounting software and computer technology, and auditing.



*Later this month look for an update on the Biological Corridor and Mequenque National Park, in a special add-on issue of this Newsletter.  This project has received funding from CEPF!!

*Informational presentations to be held:

- WI DNR Horicon Office for Horicon Marsh Bird Club (Sept 18)

- University of Wisconsin Madison and Stevens Point (dates to be determined)

*New interns will be arriving at BTT in Sept and Oct!  This includes: John Ferrans of England, Nora Koim of Germany, and Bennet Hewitt- Harrington of the US.  We have a long list of others anxious to come in the following months as well! Good luck and have fun.

* Next issue of Newsletter, due out in late October.  Until next time…


Thank You:

            Maria Victoria Chiriboga for your work on the Bird Route this summer in Costa Rica

            Elissa Pederson for you work on the Bird Survey at BTT

            Tim Hagert for your help with Grant Writing

            And to all the others who have recently helped out at BTT.