Newsletter 11, No.4 Vol. 2                        Feb. 2003



Wow! What else can I say, with the change in new year, Friends of the Great Green Macaw has experienced a number of big changes as well! We have new projects and new volunteers.  The Great Greens have moved in to the nesting season, and conservation activities surrounding Ara ambigua (scientific name) have expanded internationally.  All this and more is covered in this very LARGE ISSUE of our Newsletter #11.  In addition, I would like to thank Craig Dunn of Pennsylvania, Aldo Leopold Audubon Society of Stevens Point and Eagle Optics – Optics for the Tropics program for their recent generous donations to Friends of the Great Green Macaw.

Andrew Rothman - President



The Changing of the Farm

By: Andrew Rothman


After two years of working on Finca El Retorno, Friends of the Great Green Macaw will be moving on to work at a new farm known as Bosque Tropical del Toro or BTT.  This may come as big surprise to many of you, but slowly but surely we have been finishing our work at El Retorno.  We finished our reforestation project at El Retorno after planting a total of 1179 native species in 10 hectares and 35 additional fruit trees.  We finished our point-count bird survey with close to 100 observation days.  We found 211 species of birds on El Retorno, 90 species were counted during this years Christmas Bird Count alone.  In addition, we collected inventories of mammals, amphibians and reptiles, and collected grow and survival data on all of the trees that we planted.  We gathered and collected information on a number of food species that can help augment local diets or be used in larger scale organic agriculture and have already taken these plants and the rest of our equipment to the new farm where have already began working. 


El Retorno has taught us many things.  We enjoyed our time at El Retorno, where we had to opportunity to directly monitor Great Green Macaws, protect their nests and rehabilitate their habitat.  In addition, we gained valuable information on what other species we are protecting by protecting the Great Greens.  In these ways our goals at El Retorno were fulfilled.



 To The Forests of the Toro River

By: Andrew Rothman


Friends of the Great Green Macaw have been working on a new farm known as Bosque Tropical del Toro (BTT) or Tropical Forests of the Toro River in English.  The goal of BTT is to create a private biological reserve with sustainable use of natural resources.  Bosque Tropical del Toro has recently become an official Private Reserve with the Costa Rican Private Reserve Network. The reserve, and BTT, is currently made up of two farms that total 391 hectares.  The long-term goal is to acquire other properties to create a private reserve of over 3000 hectares!  There have not been any Great Green Macaw nests identified on the properties, but there are many Almendros in fruit and we have observed both the Great Green Macaw and the Scarlet Macaw in the first few weeks at BTT.


The folks at BTT are interested in developing eco-tourism and alternative forest products to financially sustain conservation activities on the reserve. Friends of the Great Green Macaw have begun working with BTT to assist with these projects and other conservation activities.  Friends will help augment the reforestation project that already exists on BTT, by helping to regenerate the riparian areas and by planting species that are not being used in the other reforestation areas.  We will conduct a point-count bird survey, and inventory the reserve for biodiversity.  We will continue to develop small scale organic agriculture, will help develop and identify alternative forest products, and will help with eco-tourism development. 


We are very excited to be expanding our programs and efforts in the range of the Great Green Macaw to continue to fulfill our mission of protecting, preserving and rehabilitating the Great Green Macaw, its habitat the biodiversity of its region.


Volunteer Program Becomes International

By: Andrew Rothman


Currently, our volunteer program is very full.  Friends of the Great Green Macaw now have six volunteers working with us at Bosque Tropical del Toro (BTT) on our various projects.  We have been able to tap into an international audience and of these volunteers four are non US volunteers.


Andrea Arevalo, from Columbia, came to BTT to assist with investigating possible alternative forest products, medicinal plants, ornamentals and art products and subsequently became a Friends of the Great Green Macaw volunteer when we arrived on the farm.  She is also collecting data on the status of BTT's reforestation project, and will be with FGGM until the end of March.


Ronald Bleeker and Gaby Jongenelen just arrived from the Netherlands.  They will be working with FGGM and BTT to develop a feasibility study for eco-tourism at BTT.  They will be conducting their research for credit in Holland and will be with us until August.


Marla Schwartzfeld is from Canada.  She has been working with FGGM for the last month, focusing her efforts on collecting data on biodiversity, emphasizing her time on our bird studies. She will be with us until the end of February, and will be coming back for an additional week or two in March.


In addition to these international volunteers, Dave Boehnlein from Wisconsin and Minnesota has been helping with recent BTT renovations, has been assisting Andrea with her plant identification and collecting and will be developing ideas for trails at BTT.  Laurie Weaver, from Wisconsin with be with us for the month of February, and has been busy getting all of our plants from El Retorno transplanted and getting seeds sewn in organic agriculture study plots. Mae Culumber, a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate who is currently working in Utah will join us in March.


There is room for 5 volunteers at BTT, and FGGM will have spaces available from April through the rest of the year.  Summer interns and volunteers are still needed.  If you are interested, contact Andrew Rothman or Stephanie Schmid at [email protected], or in John Borgen in Stevens Point at 715 -343-0252.


Greetings from Stevens Point, WI!


            The Stevens Point extension of FGGM has been meeting regularly on the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month in the UC of UW-Stevens Point.  We have made some new exciting connections with other groups and have been organizing the 3rd annual benefit concert!

            First, in mid- January Bobbi Webster and Lisa Wetterlin gave a presentation about Friends to a Madison, WI bird owners group called MACAW.  They shared their interest in our cause and were also able to share some of their bird knowledge with Bobbi and Lisa!

            Secondly, Friends is very excited that the Stevens Point chapter (Aldo Leopold) of the Audubon Society has shown interest in our cause!  They invited Lynne Currie to briefly speak about our latest project in Costa Rica, the Wildlife Trail, and donated money to be used in its development.  We appreciate their generosity as well as their positive community involvement!

            Finally, on MARCH 7 AT 7 PM Friends will host its 3rd BENEFIT CONCERT at the Mission Coffeehouse in Stevens Point.  We are very happy to have 2 incredible bands.  The local group Green Tea will play, as well as a group out of Chicago called Family Groove Company.  Both are a bit funky and very danceable.  We are very excited about the show and hope to see as many of you there as possible.  It will be a night of fun…for a good cause!

            Thank you to everyone who has donated their time and energy to making these achievements possible.  We are always open to new members and ideas and appreciate any and all efforts to keep our Stevens Point group active. Pura Vida!


Lynne Currie

Stevens Point Coordinator

[email protected]



Text Box:







Great Green Macaw Conservation Updates


Right now the Great Green Macaws are in the nesting season.  Breeding females will have already laid their eggs for the season, and some chicks may already be hatching.  The female will stay with the eggs and the male will forage until the chicks hatch; then both parents will look for food and return to the nest to bring the young food.  It is a critical time in the life of a macaw. Making sure nest trees and important feeding trees are not cut down for wood is of utmost importance for the conservation of the Great Green Macaw.  In 2002, the Great Green Macaw research project encountered 23 active nests, six of which were new to science.  Unfortunately, of all previously known nest trees 11 were destroyed, just in 2002. 


Wildlife Trail: We are developing the idea of the wildlife trail to bring local landowners and communities an incentive for conservation through eco-tourism.  We have met with local groups over the last month, and have gained valuable information and partnerships in the process.  There is a lot of excitement building around the idea, and we are going to be developing a preliminary route in near future.  Funds are needed for promotion of the trail, for the development of maps for the trail and for project administration and development.  We can then begin to implement and actualize the San Juan – La Selva Wildlife Trail.


National Great Green Macaw Commission:  The commission under the new leadership of ASCOMAFOR will be a more cohesive unit.  The commission is deciding on its goals for 2003 and projects to focus on as a whole commission.  Rather than having each group work separate for Great Green Macaw conservation, we are hoping to directly work together on projects.  One of the first projects will be the Great Green Macaw festival which take place in Pital on the 5th of June, and will pay tribute to the landowners that have protected Great Green Macaw nests in the last year.


San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor:  The corridor project continues its fundraising efforts, and has begun to work on bi-national efforts with Nicaragua.  Our guest piece for this issue is by Oliver Chassot of the Tropical Science Center, and Great Green Macaw Research project on the creation of a new partnership between Costa Rica and Nicaragua (see below).  On this theme, we have been working on preparing for the 2nd Bi-national Macaw Festival, which will take place in El Castillo, Nicaragua the 25th - 27th of April.



Bi-national Commission of the El Castillo – San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor, Nicaragua-Costa Rica

By: Olivier Chassot – Tropical Science Center


The Nicaragua – Costa Rica Bi-national Biological Corridor Commission is the result of various workshops held to build an integrated partnership model that originally began in the eighties with the SI-A-PAZ initiative (International System of Protected Areas for Peace). In 2000 and 2001, The United Nations Program for Development (UNPD) pushed bi-national meetings amongst Nicaraguan and Costa Rican institutions, establishing a working network of the environmental, academic, and cultural and media sectors from both countries. Since 2001, the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC) strongly supported bi-national collaborative experiences, reviving partnership forums originated since the SI-A-PAZ process.


In 2002, the Great Green Macaw research project and San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor Executive Commission began building these links. By mid 2002, bi-national communication based on the topic of the great green macaw was strengthened.  Four workshops about the biology and conservation of the great green macaw were held in Nicaragua. This partnership produced many contacts in the buffer zone of Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve. This process of bi-national meetings and exchanges leads to the creation of the Bi-national Commission of the El Castillo – San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor in November 2002, which is an integration of government agencies, local governments and NGOs from both countries, whose aim is to develop bi-national conservation actions


A main goal of the Commission is the establishment of the proposed El Castillo – San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor (340,067 hectares).  This Corridor seeks to establish a connection between forest patches and protected areas from Costa Rica with the extensive complex of the Reserve of the Biosphere of Southeast Nicaragua. The El Castillo – San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor consolidates a total of 20 protected areas into a whole integrated biological unit that sums up 1,311,182 hectares.


The Bi-national Commission of the El Castillo – San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor is made up of the following members: Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC) Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources Nicaragua, Ministry of Environment and Energy Costa Rica, Municipalities of El Castillo, Nicaragua, Sarapiqui and San Carlos Costa Rica, Fundacion del Rio, APREFLOFAS, the Great Green Macaw Research Project and the Executive Committee of the San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor.


Upcoming Events

v    Bi-weekly Friends of the Great Green Macaw – Steven Point meetings

(1st and 3rd Monday of every month)

v    Friends of the Great Green Macaw Benefit Show 

(March 7th, Mission Coffee House, Steven Point, WI)

v    Students from SOL Tours Visit Bosque del Toro Farm

(March 9th – 14th)

v    Bi- National Macaw Festival

(April 25 – 27 El Castillo, Nicaragua)

v    Costa Rican Great Green Macaw Festival

(June 5, Pital, Costa Rica)

v    1st Annual Friends of the Great Green Macaw Meeting and Celebration

(June 8, DNR offices, Horicon, WI)