Friday, December 23, 2011

Holy frijole.. H5N1


 We all remember the H1N1 virus from a few years ago right?  Well there's a new virus in town, H5N1, that top virologists have been studying.  This virus is scary.  

Read why here at ObsessionBiology

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Singing Whales Steal Spotlight From Earthquakes


Underwater earthquake recordings could help track the endangered and poorly understood fin whale, according to research presented here last week at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Most quake researchers cull the whale’s booming calls from their seafloor recordings. But one group of seismologists has flipped things around to harvest an extensive repertoire of fin whale songs.
The second-largest among whales, fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) live in many of the world’s oceans. Yet, relatively little is known about their social habits, breeding grounds, and seasonal migration paths. The animals stick mostly to deep waters far offshore, so following them by visual surveys and radio tagging can be difficult and costly.
Seismologist William Wilcock of the University of Washington, Seattle, wondered if there was a better way. From 2003 to 2006, his group had measured undersea earthquakes that occur as new sea floor forms. Implanted in the ocean floor, their seismic detectors also picked up fin whale calls, which—at 17 to 35 hertz—overlap in frequency with Earth’s rumblings. To extract earthquake information efficiently, the group developed computer programs to detect and filter out whale songs…

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Inspired


I have really enjoyed checking this blog and posting interesting things, but now that our quarter is over what am I going to dooo?? Where will I post things like this panda ant?! Is it even an ant???

Well, I decided to start my own blog! It's little and new but I'm really excited to add posts, so discover the truth about the panda ant and check it out @ ObsessionBiology

Ella


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Carbon Ranching: Offsetting Greenhouse Gases


Carbon Ranching is a method of 'trapping' carbon that is quickly gaining steam as a new way to reduce carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide emmisions. This article focuses on the San Joaquin Valley and the farmers and companies seeking to make their businesses profitable, but ecological. Carbon Ranching is an ecologically sound method that businesses (especially those required by CA law to either reduce business-related emissions or invest in emission reducing projects) and land owners can use to easily prevent carbon from escaping into the atmosphere. The method is elegantly simple: flood peatlands of the valley and grow a tall grass called tule. This grass can grow in oxygen deprived soil, and as it grows, it sucks carbon out of the atmosphere. Carbon that can contribute to global warming and/or ocean acidification. The flooding of the area would also help restore the land to it's original composition.

This method could prove to be useful to rice farmers, their flooding method to grow rice can also be used to trap carbon.

I think that using this method can be extremely beneficial. Companies can pay farmers to harvest carbon sucking plants like the tule to offset emissions from their businesses. Though it would be best for the company to reduce emissions at the source, that can be incredibly expensive; essentially asking the company to drown itself in improvements. I feel that this Carbon Ranching is a good middle ground, but can be dangerous if it is the only step companies take to reduce their emissions. I feel it should only be a utilized concurrently with updating machinery/practices to reduce emissions.


Source:https://www.npr.org/2011/12/07/142947234/can-carbon-ranching-offset-emissions-in-calif

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bolivia Set to Pass Historic 'Law of Mother Earth' Which Will Grant Nature Equal Rights to Humans

You read that right-Bolivia plans to grant Mother Nature the same rights as humans.
With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations, Bolivia is set to pass the Law of Mother Earth which will grant nature the same rights and protections as humans. The piece of legislation, called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, is intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction.
The law redefines natural resources as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities".
It's an interesting idea, but I can foresee some major problems arising from this. For example the "right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered" would mean genetically modified crops, which might become necessary if humans continue proliferating at the rate that we do, would be out of the question. Also, if we're going to treat her as a person, does that mean we can hold her responsible for all the destruction she causes?

Full Article Here
While I was doing some studying *ahem* I happened upon this lovely creature.
The ‘Giant Weta’ is the largest insect in the world, and this is the biggest one ever found! Recently discovered by former park ranger Mark Moffett, this behemoth Deinacrida has a wing span of 7 inches. Proud finder Mark said, “She enjoyed the carrot so much she seemed to ignore the fact she was resting on our hands and carried on munching away”.The creepy crawly is only found on Little Barrier Island, in New Zealand as the species was accidentally wiped off the mainland by rats introduced by Europeans. “After she had chewed a little I took this picture and we put her right back where we found her.”

Monday, December 5, 2011

Voice of a child

Here is a video I stumbled upon of a Canadian girl addressing a UN Conference on the environment. It's a very moving post and I'm interested to see if anyone has heard of this or its affects it had on the issue of international environment politics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQmz6Rbpnu0

New Measures to Protect the Hirola


The abundance of the hirola, a large, African antelope, has reached a dangerously low level. The entirety of the hirola population consisted of about 14,000 animals when surveyed in the 1970s, but today it is estimated that fewer than 400 remain, occupying small, fragmented habitats in Kenya and Somalia. The increasingly fragmented habitats, in addition to habitat destruction, predation, unregulated hunting, and limited resources due to drought have had a severe negative impact on the hirola. As the only surviving species in its genus, the hirola’s disappearance would mean the loss of an entire category of African mammals. Should the hirola go extinct, it will be the first mammal genus to completely die out in over 75 years.

Efforts to protect the hirola have been fairly weak, given its “critically endangered” ICUN status. Though a reserve was established in the 1970s to provide a refuge for the rare antelope, it has been largely neglected for decades, allowing the hirola population to shrink further still. All attempts to breed the animals in captivity have failed in various facilities around the world. After the captive breeding projects proved unsuccessful, small portions of the population were relocated to ensure their safety. There is currently a small but stable population of hirola living in a neighboring wildlife park.

The most recent efforts to save the hirola involve the Ishaqbini conservancy, which is composed of several Somalian clans dedicated to the preservation of the local wildlife. To combat the threat of predation due to rising numbers of African lions and African wild dogs, the Ishaqbini plan to implement a predator-proof fence to surround the hirola population. Paired with other conservation projects and redoubling efforts to prevent poaching, the new measures to protect the hirola will hopefully bring the species back from the brink of extinction.

Dahiye, Yakub, Mumin. “Reconnaissance survey for the hirola antelope in northern parts of

Garissa district, Kenya.” African Journal of Ecology 47, 452-453. 2009.

Dell’Amore, Christine. “Entire Mammal Genus on the Brink of Extinction.” National

Geographic. 2011.

extinct-genus-animals-science-africa-antelopes/>


Christina Young

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Pros and Cons of the Existence of Bees



I have always wondered why honey bees are a valued asset to the ecosystem. After researching, it was found that bees are the most important pollinators of food crops. It is estimated that one third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination mainly by bees. The following are just some of the crops that they pollinate: avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash, and sunflowers for oil, cucumbers, citrus fruit, peaches, kiwis, cherries, cranberries, melons cotton and flax. As stated in one of the articles, even if they do not pollinate a crop directly, the crop still benefits indirectly from being in an environment in which honey bees are working, due to the increased biodiversity in the area which stimulates the crop.

Honey bees are important to the world because of their 2 main contributions: Pollination and bee products. Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred in plants, thereby enabling fertilization and sexual reproduction. Bees are responsible for a wide variety of wild flowers and many crops depend on them. Secondly, the health of humans is greatly enhanced by the use of bee products. The following are some of the products humans use daily that contain bee products in them: honey, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly and venom.

Although there are many pros of having the honey bee, there are also some cons. It is belived that if the honey bee continues to pollinate, there is a possibility that it could introduce new diseases, which has happened. It is also believed that honey bees hurt the environment. They are not native to North America and were believed to be imported from Euroope in 1638. These bees have taken of much of the habitat from native bees, thus putting a strain/ altering the function of the ecosystem.

Despite there being pros and cons to the existence of the honey bee, I believe that the bee is an important component of the ecosystem and and humans, as a part of the ecosystem, benefit greatly from bees' efforts.

To learn more information about the pros and cons of they honey bee, please read the following articles:




posted by Christine Ikekwere at 11:18pm

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Discussion Question Re-posted

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Cheetah: An Example of Genetic Bottleneck

Today, the small remaining cheetah population remaining in Africa faces many pressures which threaten the continuing existence of the species. Cheetahs first evolved in North America over 8 million years ago and dispersed around the globe over time, evolving into many different species and subspecies. 12,000 years ago during the last glacial maximum, large glaciers caused cheetahs to become locally extinct everywhere except for Africa. However, the few surviving cheetahs all shared similar genetics, creating a genetic bottleneck within the population. Genetic bottlenecks threaten a population due to the many complications of inbreeding, which include more common defects and less resistance to disease. The idea of cheetahs experiencing a genetic bottleneck has been tested scientifically. Results from testing cheetah DNA indicate that the cheetah did in fact experience a genetic bottleneck 12,000 years ago (Menotti –Raymond and O’Brien, 1993). In addition to the challenges posed by low genetic diversity, the cheetah also faces pressures from an increasingly fragmented habitat, and competition for food from both humans and other large cats.

Work cited:

Menotti-Raymond, M. "Dating the Genetic Bottleneck of the African Cheetah." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 90.8 (1993): 3172-176. Web. .

Work Referenced:

Gugliotta, Guy. "Rare Breed | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine." History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian Magazine. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. .

Friday, December 2, 2011

Federal Protections Restored for Yellowstone Grizzlies


Although it rarely happens, the legal system listened to the pleas of conservationists last week. The federal appeals court decided that the removal of grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act’s protection was in error. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals negated the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the bears from the endangered species list. The judicial panel based their decision upon the fact that a beetle infestation is destroying the bears’ white-bark pine food source. The beetle issue has been attributed to abnormally high temperatures, which means the grizzly bear is merely the second wildlife species to earn protection due to the adverse effects of global warming. The loss of the bears’ natural food source in the upper elevations in Yellowstone National Park is causing growing concern that the bears will begin to forage in areas of human population. This could cause problems if confrontations arise between the grizzlies and people and livestock. The fact that grizzly bears have already killed several people in recent years does not help to assuage fears. Sadly, this has also resulted in the murder or removal of about 75 bears from the wild in the past year alone, according to studies. The judicial panel took all this information into account. They were also greatly swayed to repeal the decision since the wildlife agency “failed to adequately consider the impacts of global warming and mountain pine beetle infestation on the vitality of the region’s white-bark pine trees.” The damage to the pine trees is a severe issue in and of itself. In some areas the white-bark pines have greater than 90% mortality due to these beetles. The undeniable threat to the Yellowstone grizzly population due to these current conditions solidified the circuit court’s ruling. The bears need to remain under the protections of the Endangered Species Act and with a recovery strategy in place in order to preserve the population in the face of this threat. The efforts to recover the Yellowstone grizzlies in the last 35 years had tripled the population to approximately 600, and it would be foolish to let that success go to waste.

Williams, Carol and Cart, Julie. “Court restores federal protections for Yellowstone grizzlies”. Los Angeles Times. November 22, 2011. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/22/nation/la-na-1123-yellowstone-grizzlies-20111123

Saving the Whales in the Santa Barbara Channel!


Recently the U.S. Coast Guard released a Port Access Route Study (PARS) that was originally carried out in order to create new shipping lanes south of the Channel Islands and to address the concerns of environmental groups about the conservation of the endangered blue whales and the humpback and gray whales whose important feeding grounds were located in the shipping lanes. The proposal for new shipping lanes south of the Channel Islands was due to recent complaints by the U.S. Navy that shipping vessels had been navigating through some of their military testing ranges south of the Channel Islands to avoid the strict air pollution laws of California. Establishing new shipping lanes in this area would prevent this safety threat and reduce the number of shipping vessels able to skirt the state’s air pollution laws. In order to alter the lanes so that they are separated from the important whale feeding areas the U.S. Coast Guard has proposed that the lanes be narrowed and moved to area north of the Channel Islands. Environmental groups, including the EDC, who were outraged at the fact that 4 blue whales had been hit and killed by shipping vessels in the Santa Barbara Channel, are happy with the U.S. Coast Guards shipping lane change proposal, but are upset that the proposal does not mention the need for the establishment of lower speed limits through the important marine protected areas of the Channel Islands. They say that lowering the speed limits through these areas will not only reduce the amount of whale deaths but also greatly decrease pollution caused by the shipping vessels.
-Michelle Adams
Original article:
“Coast Guard: Shipping lanes need to be moved to protect whales”. Barboza, Tony. LA Times. November 1, 2011.http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/11/coast-guard-proposes-moving-shipping-route-away-from-whales.html

Forest Abuse and The Zapatista Rebellion



Places in the world undergoing some sort of social conflict usually suffer major threats on their natural habitats due to the temporal lack of authority or governance. Chiapas, one of the most biological and culturally rich regions of Mexico, has overall the highest rates of deforestation of the country.

On New Year’s eve of 1994 an army integrated of local indigenous people, Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional or EZLN, took without violence the city of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas and proclaimed war against the Mexican government. The reason, “more than 500 years of extreme poverty, lack of development opportunities and mistreatment and abuse by the rest of the society”. After some days of intensive protests and resistance, the EZLN came to an agreement with the Mexican Government. It has been more than 15 years now and the conflict continues, the government does not fulfill the “Acuerdos” and the EZLN has remained outside of any political control, “promoting their own government structures”.

The lack of governance following the rebellion has allowed abuse of the land, such as massive clearance of forests for agriculture, selective logging, livestock ranching and human settlement, all of which has contributed to poor yields from traditional-agriculture forest rotations. All this lack of development of sustainable forestry has contributed to even more conflict, the local indigenous people demands the open of more land to cultivation and the population has increased tremendously.

Chiapas is one of the places in Mexico with lowest social and economical progress, but as mentioned before, with a vast biological and cultural richness. This might be a good place for organizations that link conservation and development to support, such as the USAID or the establishment of Biosphere Reserves, both of which promote conservation of Biodiversity with the participation of local people. But the conflict among local communities with the government has make this really difficult, and no single organization has been able to initiate such project on its own.

Gonz├ílez-Espinosa, M, Forest use and conservation implications of the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico, D. Kaimowitz, Editor, Forests and Conflicts, ETFRN News No. 43-44, European Tropical Forest Research Network, Wageningen, The Netherlands (2005), pp. 74–76.

http://www.etfrn.org/etfrn/newsletter/news4344/nl43_oip_3_6.htm

Plastic Bags: A Problem We Can Solve

The staggering production and waste of plastic bags has a rare characteristic among conservation issues: while it currently has gross environmental consequences, eliminating a large proportion of the problem can be done relatively cheaply and easily. This means that plastic bag usage is an ideal problem for conservation biologists to spend time and effort on. Currently, over 1 trillion plastic bags are produced each year. China alone consumes 3 billion plastic bags daily. Even more unfortunate, each of those plastic bags could take up to 1000 years to fully degrade.

These plastic bags usually go to one of two problematic places: landfills or the ocean. Our landfills are already being filled up, and trash disposal is starting to escalate into a major problem. Many bags do not even make it to the landfills – they get washed or dumped into the ocean, where they pose a variety of hazards. Many bags are mistaken for jellyfish and subsequently consumed by sea life. Since the plastic bag (obviously) cannot be digested, it usually remains in the animal’s digestive system, causing the animal to think that it is not hungry and subsequently die of hunger. Alternately, the bags photodegrade into microscopic pieces – pieces that absorb toxic chemicals.

Luckily, there are solutions to the plastic bag problem. Initiating a plastic bag ban has been promoted by some, but it often just leads to production of paper bags and compostable bags, which still have significant environmental impacts. Also, bans blatantly take away people’s free will – something voters tend to dislike. Better solutions encourage people to use reusable bags, each one of which can save hundreds or thousands of plastic bags. A highly effective method has been to put a tax on plastic bags. Even a 5-cent tax has reduced bag usage by 80-95%, and this does not take away the feeling of having free will to choose how one bags one’s groceries. Another longer-term solution is to have a cultural shift away from a “use-and-toss” mentality and towards a reusing mentality. This sort of cultural shift would actually reduce many environmental issues, and will certainly be necessary in the future if we want to maintain global standards of living. Plastic bags are a massive problem, but one that can be resolved rapidly if we put pressure on politicians to put a tax on plastic bags. At the very least, make sure that you don't forget your reusable bag in the car next time you go to the store!

Anastasia Quintana

For more information, visit reuseit.com.

http://www.reuseit.com/learn-more/top-facts/plastic-bag-facts

Should Giant Pandas be Protected?


Whether or not we should continue to protect giant Pandas has become a rather controversial question recently. Those who are opposed to the idea claim that the attempt to save pandas from extinction is simply not cost-effective. Naturalist David Packham, who was interviewed by Radiotimes, believes that conservation efforts should be given up on these animals. He stated that they are a “species that, of its own accord, has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac. It's not a strong species.” Others of the same opinion argue that money spent on the panda could be used more wisely (e.g. taking greater care of biodiversity hotspot.) So why are people interested in the conservation of pandas when there have been other animals, like the Yangtze River dolphin, which have gone extinct? Cuteness sells. Pandas appeal to people, whereas the Yangtze River dolphin wasn’t the most good-looking animal around. But those who support the protection of pandas also make several good arguments. First of all, the word ‘conservation’ has become so familiar with the general public because of animals like pandas. Conservationists also argue that the giant panda’s environment has been constantly encroached upon by humans, which has played a huge part in their struggle for survival.

Nithya Nambiar.
http://angrychineseblogger.blog-city.com/let_them_die_pandas_are_not_cost_effective_enough_to_bother.htm

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ecotourism and the empowerment of local communities


Ecotourism, which is currently the fastest growing form of global tourism in the world, is more prevalent today than ever before. Communities that once had very little industry and were plagued by the after effects of poaching and misguided management systems have now been able to flourish with the employment of local people. By involving local people in these programs and when a direct stimulus is returned to the community, rather than having the profits sent elsewhere, programs have been proven to be much more successful. When discussing ecotourism, it is also important to realize that these programs are not always beneficial to the local communities and many ecotourism ventures are controlled by outside operators. In many of these cases, sometimes as little as one percent of the profits acquired are being placed back into the community and instead are seen only as corporate earnings or being sent to government agencies. However, in a community based approach to ecotourism, not only is a specific habitat or species benefiting, but the quality of life of the people living in these areas often times dramatically increase.

It wasn’t until the mid 1980s that many of these programs (such as in Zambia and Zimbabwe) saw large success rates in these ecotourism programs. After fundamentally changing these programs by hiring local people and empowering the communities they lived in to take part in these venture programs; a huge turnaround was seen not only in program success but also in reduction of illegal poaching. Today numerous examples exist of programs that have become very successful largely due to community support after certain regulations were put in place. One such example can be seen with “the Narok Country Council which has jurisdiction over the Masai Mara park (which) puts money into a trust fund which is used to fund schools, cattle dips and health services which benefit the entire community (Sindiga, 1995) .” Another example can be seen with the Ngai Tahu who are “training local tribes people to deliver information to compliment tourist activities such as a highly successful Whale Watch venture. (Their) aim is that ecotourism can be both socially and economically sustainable, reviving respect for traditions and enhancing local livelihoods by providing an income for many previously unemployed people.”

While the surge in money into these local communities is generally thought of as a good thing, there are also other aspects to consider when dealing with ecotourism. While these people may be prospering economically, it is also important to look at the social and cultural systems of these communities and to make sure that this ecotourism is not disrupting traditional values or undermining the quality of life that these people would like to have. The most effective way to do this is to empower the local communities and let them be involved in deciding which ventures they think will suit them best. It should be of the utmost importance to make sure that these communities are not degraded and avoid social disempowerment at all costs in order to prevent the increase in things such as crime, begging, or prostitution. While this framework may seem very delicate, it can be done successfully and ecotourism overall should be seen as a means to benefit both people and habitats alike.

http://scholar.googleusercontent.com/scholar?q=cache:sSrRVIJnf-gJ:scholar.google.com/+ecotourism+and+the+empowerment+of+local+people&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5

Endangered Wombats and The World's Most Interesting Man


Recently, the Dos Equis Beer spokesman, the World's Most Interesting Man (actor Jonathan Goldsmith), auctioned "The Most Interesting Jam," sending the proceeds to the Wombat Foundation, an organization which helps protect the critically endangered northern hairy-nosed wombat. The jam, hand-mixed by the World's Most Interesting Man, sold in auction for $1,025.


The northern hairy-nosed wombat remains among the most critically endangered mammals. The current population of 138 hairy nose wombats represents an all time high since conservation efforts began. Most of the wombats live within an area protected by dingo-proof fences located in Epping Forest National Park. Predation poses a serious threat to this small population.


The wombat has never been a particular plentiful species within Australia. Initially, wombat populations began to decline from pressures brought by European settlers and their livestock. Droughts further reduced their population to an all time low of 35 individuals during the 1980s. On the bright side, the wombats continue to breed within their protected nature reserve.


link to original blog:


http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/2011/11/22/can-most-interesting-man-world-save-wombat/


citation:

Platt |, John R. "Can the Most Interesting Man in the World Help Save This Critically Endangered Wombat? | Extinction Countdown, Scientific American Blog Network." Scientific American Blog Network. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. .





Ecotourism in Costa Rica





Costa Rican villagers opt for tourism to preserve way of life


By PETER HADEKEL, Freelance


Costa Rica has been living through an unprecedented tourism boom that is rapidly transforming the small Central American country.
More than 2 million tourists a year pour into the country. Developers are building vast resort and condominium complexes along the Pacific coast. Real-estate sales are surging among North Americans and Europeans looking for a piece of retirement paradise.


If you're wondering whether the country can preserve its extraordinary natural beauty and reputation for eco-tourism in the face of racing development, you're not alone.
Fortunately, there are still many ways to step off the beaten track and experience Costa Rica from a different perspective.


We discovered one when we stayed at Reserva Los Campesinos, a rural tourism co-operative in the small village of Quebrada Arroyo, not far from the popular resort destination of Manuel Antonio.


The project, including several rustic cabins and a chalet with kitchen and dining area overlooking a lushly forested gorge, is run by the local community.
It's tourism with a difference. You know that your money is not going into the pockets of a foreign-owned hotel chain, but will instead provide badly needed income to the people who live here.


A one-hour bus trip from the Pacific coast town of Quepos took us to the village of Londres, where we were picked up by a driver in a four-by-four. Then came a jarring 45-minute ride along a pot-holed road that forded several streams.
We saw no one along the way other than a small group of tourists on horseback. Clearly, we were getting away from it all.


When we arrived at Quebrada Arroyo and unloaded our packs, we were met with a nearly deafening serenade from the cicadas in the bushes and trees. It was a sound of incredible intensity, but remarkably peaceful in its own way.


Our guide Victor Perez Mora led us down a path to our cabin, which overlooked a waterfall. Next door was the handsomely constructed open-air chalet where our meals would be prepared on a wood-fired stove.


Perez Mora told us the story behind Quebrada Arroyo.


The area had been settled about 50 years ago by a small group of pioneering families who struggled to earn a living from logging and subsistence crops like sugar, rice, corn, and beans.
Then came the good times. The villagers began to plant vanilla and soon prospered as the market price for vanilla beans soared to over $800 U.S. a kilogram. Some families were earning as much as $20,000 U.S. a year - a princely sum for rural Costa Rica.
It didn't last long. A pest struck the vanilla plants and they died from disease. Hard times returned and some families began to move away.


But a core group of villagers looked for ways to stay on the land and preserve their way of life. They decided on a tourism project that would emphasize sustainable development and forest protection.


With the help of the United Nations Development Program, the community bought 33 hectares of land, built the cabins and lodge, cleared hiking trails and constructed a hair-raising suspension bridge that spans the gorge below them.


We crossed the bridge on our first afternoon (definitely not for the faint of heart) and made our way to a series of waterfalls and a lovely natural swimming pool where the water was fine.
The trails wind their way through thick primary and secondary forest, providing views of the Saverge River gorge. On the following morning, our guide took us on a 3.6-kilometre hike to a lookout where we had a good view of the Pacific.


Also available at Los Campesinos are horseback excursions and rafting trips along the Saverge River. And there's plenty of time to just relax and enjoy the forest around you.
It definitely helps to speak some Spanish. The local guides were unilingual but arrangements can be made for English-speaking guides through ACTUAR, a San Jose-based organization that links some two dozen rural tourism co-operatives


The cabins were basic but comfortable. Meals were tasty, with dishes put out in a self-serve format and plenty of food for hungry appetites (although Costa Rican fare is quite simple).
More than half the families in the village now earn income from the tourism project, as guides, cooks or maids. And business is picking up, with more than 1,000 visits a year.
Call it socially responsible tourism if you want. Our two nights at Quebrada Arroyo made us feel good about spending our money here. As one resident told us: "We are proud of our way of life and we want to pass it on to our children."

By: Christine Ikekwere


***The post attached is a link to a video about successful ecotourism in the rainforest of Costa Rica***