Friends of the Great Green Macaw, Inc.


Newsletter 10, No. 3, Vol. 2                      January 2003             


Welcome to our tenth newsletter.  It is already the halfway point of our second year distributing this newsletter to you.  We have put together a format for the newsletter that will pretty much be the same for all newsletters from now on.

The format will be as such:

                                                On the Farm

                                                GGM Conservation Updates

                                                SP / Organizational Updates

                                                Up Coming Events.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays.

Friends of the Great Green Macaw


On the Farm


            Mid November marked my return to Costa Rica and the EL Retorno farm. Many things have changed on the farm since my departure in May; hence it was good to see the progress of projects that I was originally involved in.

 Our three reforestation plots have experienced differing amounts of success.  Conditions such as excessive rain, scorching sun and invading exotic grasses that shade the young saplings have all influenced the mortality of our reforestation plots. In order to control the grass we are allowing cows to graze in the plots for a few days every two to three months. We have found that the cows primarily eat the grass and ignore the trees.  The only real threat the cow’s present to the trees is stepping or laying on them. We plan to conduct a study, for future publication, on the mortality of saplings before and after cows are allowed to graze within the reforestation plot to see if it is viable way of controlling grass.

            Since October, a total of 10 new bird species have been identified on the farm including the Stripped Cuckoo and the Bay Headed Tanager. Many of theses species were identified with the help of Bill Volkert (Vice President) Steve Mahler (Board Member) and Connie Ramthun who came to Costa Rica the first week in December. They brought lots of equipment including mist nets, which helped us identify many species of birds that we were unable to see with binoculars alone.

            A new mammal species has been identified at the farm since the last newsletter as well. A jaguar has been sighted on the farm! In mid-November, Efrien Obanda, a worker on the neighboring farm La Peninsula, saw a large jaguar around 5 am along an old logging road on our farm when he was coming in to work. In addition, on three separate occasions we have found tracks of this jaguar on the property. Based on the measurements of the tracks, we believe it is a large male jaguar. Along the boarder of the property, two carcasses of armadillos have been found, a favorite prey of jaguars. This is exciting news, showing importance of preserving land and encouraging us to continue with our mission to protect biodiversity.

            Around the farm house, we have been working diligently in the gardens and the ever expanding fruit orchard. The gardens had been left unattended for almost two months, and in that time cows had broke through the fencing surrounding the house and gorged themselves on our gardens. Hence many hours have been dedicated to rehabilitating the gardens. New fruit trees have been planted and some donated to us be Ulises Aleman.  Last week, we also traveled to Punta Mona, a permaculture farm on the southern Caribbean side of Costa Rica to get ideas for our gardens and seeds for planting.  Additionally we made contact with two permaculture professors, who have interest in visiting our farm.  We have also been invited to send a representative to an upcoming permaculture course.  We are looking for $500 -1300 to send a participant to the course.  This course would be an important education tool for expanding our agriculture project at El Retorno to the local communities. 

            Additionally, within the next few weeks we are expecting a number of new volunteers that will be staying for various amounts of time.  We still need more volunteers for the upcoming months and we are also accepting resumes for summer intern positions.


Stephanie Schmid





This section of the Newsletter will now be included in every newsletter and will inform all of the readers about the happenings in Costa Rica with the conservation of the Great Green Macaw, including updates on our Wildlife Trail, the San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor, and the National Great Green Macaw Commission.


WILDLIFE TRAIL: In mid November Raquel Gomez, FGGM – Costa Rica and Andrew Rothman presented our proposal for the San Juan – La Selva Wildlife Trail to the San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor Executive Committee.   Our ideas and proposal was well received by the committee.  Our proposal will now be included within the larger San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor (CBSS) proposal that we presented internationally for funding and support.  We will also be working with many groups within the CBSS.  Meetings with these groups have already begun and more are scheduled for the month of January.  Additionally we are beginning an inventory of conservation projects and protected areas within the area of our proposed trail.


SAN JUAN - LA SELVA BIOLOGICAL CORRIDOR:  The Corridor Executive Committee recently met with the Secretary of the Environment and Energy regarding the proposed Biological Corridor and the creation of the new Mequenque National Park.  The Secretary, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, was enthused about the project and asked for a list of the most critical needs of the park and the corridor.  He also mentioned the possibility of declaring the area proposed as Mequenque National as a National Wildlife Refuge in the near future. This would give greater protection to the area then currently exists and would help in paving the way for the designation of National Park.


GREAT GREEN MACAW COMMISSION: There will be a new group acting as co-coordinators of the National Great Green Macaw Commission in 2003. ASCOMAFOR, a coalition of local community projects will assume the co-coordination position.  This position held by an NGO changes annually, and works with the MINAE (Ministry of Environment and Energy) to lead this Commission.


December also marked the end of the year for the commission, and after the December meeting there was a small fiesta, attended by many commission members including FGGM and four of its board members.  The fiesta included music, dancing and celebration.  All had fun.




Costa Rica:

            Dec. 25: El Retorno Bird Count

            Dec. 29: La Selva Bird Count (Counting at Tirimbina Rain Forest Center)

            Dec. 29: Presentation to University group at Tirimbina Rain Forest Center

            Jan. 11: Meeting w/ ABAS (Wildlife Trail)

            Jan. 11: Presentation to University group at Tirimbina Rain Forest Center

            Jan. 24: San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor Meeting