Friends of the Great Green Macaw, Inc.


                                                                                                                        7 N. Pinckney St

Newsletter 15                                            Suite 210

No. 2 Vol. 3                            [email protected]                           Madison, WI 53703

Oct. 2003                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  


            Upon my return to Costa Rica I received a warm welcome from all of the members of the Biological Corridor Committee and from the local Costa Ricans with whom we have established contacts and relations.  After a 5 month stint in the US, I was better able to see the influence and role Friends of the Great Green Macaw are playing in the effort to protect the Great Green Macaw. It is important that Friends of the Great Green Macaw exist.  We are able to bring outside views to the ideas of the Corridor and Macaw preservation, and we are able to bring information to small communities and create connections with them, due to our interest in the well being of their backyards, their children and their futures.  We have been able to create a network of friends and supporters for our efforts.  This makes our mission of  protecting the Great Green Macaw, its habitat and biodiversity that much easier.  Overall I am happy to see Friends of the Great Green Macaw progressing in Costa Rica, and the efforts to save the macaw through the preservation of the habitat by local landowners advancing.


            On the US side of things we still need assistance.  Our chapter in Stevens Point is dissipating with graduating members, and there is a lot of things both student and adult members could help with.  If you feel you would like to help, but don’t know how, please contact us.  Thanks again for your support as a member of our organization. 


Andrew Rothman




Our project at Bosque Tropical del Toro is now again in full swing.  The houses are now fully livable.  Bathroom and kitchen are fully functioning, and some gardens have already been established.  We currently have three volunteers who have been able to get our projects re-established.  Nora Koim of Germany has been working on the reforestation project.  Although there have been thousands of trees planted, Nora is intensely looking at three small parcels of trees and has been caring for these trees and monitoring their growth. She has also taken on the responsibility of accountant for the farm.  John Ferrans from England, is an agroforestry student and has been assisting with the establishment of gardens, and has defined and initiatede an agroforestry program where we are mixing, bananas, other fruit trees, yucca, and native species.  Lynn Moltzau from Norway/ Canada was instrumental in getting the farm up and running again.  She began a large garden, and has been identifying butterflies, collecting seeds from wild fruit trees and plants, and has been making connections with the community.  There has even been a small English class set up with some local youngsters. 

As the project moves forward so do some our volunteers, both John and Lynn will be leaving soon. Filling their positions will be Miguel Diaz from Argentina, who has a lot of experience with agriculture, and community outreach.  Justin Eastman from Wisconsin will also be joining us and taking on the Biodiversity Inventory project. 

We hope that the project can continue growing and moving forward as it has over the last few months.  Thanks volunteers!


New Volunteer Project under Development

Friends of the Great Green Macaw is now negotiating with the owners of the farm known as Rain Ranch, the start of a new volunteer project.  This project would be very similar to BTT farm project.  We are now taking resumes and cover letters for potential volunteers, yet we already have a number of volunteers in waiting that may be able to get this project up and running the next few months. Great Green Macaws are seen here almost daily. A Description of the property and its possible projects follows. 

Description of Property:


The farm called Rain Ranch is about 10 km from Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, in the village of La Esperaza de Tahoe.  It is owned by David Gardella (US) and his wife (Costa Rican). The property is about 70 hectares (175 acres) of which 45 are high graded Primary Forest and secondary rainforest, another 10 have been reforested with a mixture of native species and 15 are planted with hybrid coconuts.  Planted amongst the coconuts are 5 hectares of vanilla and 1,500 almendro trees.  The almendro trees, which are the main source of food and nesting for the great green macaw, were planted about a year ago and some are already a meter tall or more. 


Accommodations are a little rustic. It's basically a 2-story wooden and cinder block farm house.  There are three single beds and one double bed. There is a veranda and relaxation area on the second floor that overlooks part of the farm.  It has drinkable and running water from two separate springs and solar electricity.  Sorry, not enough juice for a hairdrier.  There is a converter for 110 volt radios. You'll get used to the scorpions, well maybe not.  Just remember to check your cloths and shoes in the morning before dressing. There is also a large vivero for germinating trees and plants, etc.


Rubber boots and ponchos are a necessity in the rainy season and are cheap and available in Puerto Viejo.  Mosquitoes and other biting bugs are a frequent but not constant problem.  Mosquito nets can also be purchased in Puerto Viejo for the first volunteers.


Over (yes his name is Over) is the foreman of the farm and can help with introducing people to the farm, and is a source of help and information.  He will not be directing any project but can help and give advice when needed.  There are a few other workers on the farm you will get to know and one of the neighbors has a cell phone for emergencies, and to call a cab if need be.


Food runs can be made on foot, with David or his son when they come in to the farm (about 1 x a week), or a cab can be called for about 3000 colones.


Description of Work and Projects:


This project is for people interested in the conservation and the study of biological resources.  It is not for tourists, or vacationers.  We require a stay of at least two months and longer is preferred.


  1. Maintenance and development of Trails:  3 km of trails already exist and need to be kept up. 2km still need to be developed.  This includes the building of a bridge across part of a swamp.  The trails will be used by a guard that will be hired to guard the property, for researchers and volunteers and for simply making it easier to get around the farm.  This also includes maintenance on the house, building shelves or other house improvements


  1. Macaw Data Collection:  Data on Great Green and Scarlet Macaw observations will be kept on a data sheet provided.  Additionally, any trees found to be used by the macaws should be identified and marked. 


  1. Biodiversity Inventory:  Inventories of plants and animals will be conducted.  Random encounters and scientific methods may be used.  This includes the development of a number of bird observation locations that can be used year after year (point count bird survey).


  1. Forest Enrichment:  This position will research cultivation methods of forest plant species, will collect seeds and try to cultivate, then plant key species in reforestation areas and secondary forest to assist with the natural regeneration of the existing forest.


  1. Various Projects:  Assistance with care for young Almendros and other native species will be necessary at times.  Assistance can also be given to the farms’ Vanilla Project. Other biological research is encouraged and can be conducted.


Everyone is expected to work 4 - 5 hours a day 6 days a week.  This will leave lots of time to do bird watching or finally read that book you haven't had time to get into.


To apply for a position:


Send resume and cover letter (explaining why your experience and skills will assist this project, and why you would like to work with us) to:

Andrew Rothman

Volunteer Coordinator

[email protected]

Subject: Volunteer at Rain Ranch



Creation of San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor and Maquenque National Park Movning Forward.

There have been a number of advancements with the development of Maquenuqe National Park and the adjoining biological corridor.  First off, the project has received its first substantial donation ($210,000 over three years).  These funds come from Conservation Internationals Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).  These funds will be used to develop a management plan for Maquenque National Park, to take satellite and aerial photos of the park and corridor and to conduct a land ownership study in the area of the proposed national park.  This study will identify and visit every property within the proposed park boundaries. Speaking of which, the park boundaries have been expanded.  The proposed park is now proposed to encompass nearly 51, 000 hectares. This expansion added one of the proposed nuclear areas to the actual park, and thus the corridor will have three rather than four nuclear areas outside of the park.  The strategic development plan for the San Juan – La Selva Biological Corridor (SSBC) is currently being developed and edit by Friends of the Great Green Macaw and the other members of the Executive Committee of the SSBC. 

The Minister of the Environmentin of Costa Rica, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, has been very supportive of the effort to develop this national park. He has signed a decree giving support for the development of this park. Note that this does not say that the park will be built.  The creation of the park will depend on the international community to fund the purchase of the land for the park, as Costa Rica, who has not paid off other existing national parks, has no funds for a new national park.  The Minister also held a question and answer session in Pital, San Carlos and will hold another in Sarapiqui at the end of October.  One of the interesting ideas that the Minister is proposing, is to work directly with landowners and communities within the corridor and national park to help develop the idea of the park.  This includes the idea that if there are landowners who do not want to sell their property but are willing to protect what remains, and rehabilitate other parts of the their farms, they could remain owners of the property that would be considered part of Maquenque National Park.


News and Notes

·      The name of our proposed Birding Route has been finalized.  The official name that will be used for this route is… Ruta de Aves Costa Rica: Seccion San Juan – La Selva or The Costa Rican Bird Route: Section San Juan – La Selva.  The choosing of the name was opened to the members of the SSBC Committee and the most common answers were put together in to this name. We decided on Route rather then Trail to get away from the idea this was a hiking trail.  We also gave it a section name in hopes that we can work for the development of a comprehensive Route for all of Costa Rica.

·      Our proposed Bird Route will be included as part of the strategic develoment plan for the SSBC.

·      Karine Pignorel of France will be joining Friends of the Great Green Macaw in Chilamate to initiate a study of tourism in the zone that is to be the Biological Corridor and Bird Route

·      The 3rd Annual Bi-national Macaw festival between Costa Rica and Nicaragua is now being planned for April 2004 in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui.

·      FGGM and the SSBC Exec. Committee will be taking part in an information and techniques exchange workshop in the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, with the organizations that are working to develop a biological corridor within the peninsula.


Talk to you all in December in issue # 16!!