Second Workshop of coastal marine training educators circuit 04, Region Perez Zeledon. December 2, 2015, ASANA.
Final meeting of the Local Council, December 9, 2015, Tilapia El Pavon
Coming Auction, from November 30 to December 15, 2015.
The mission of ASANA is to secure the long-term conservation of the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor and surrounding natural areas by empowering local communities and residents to take action in support of conservation actions. We have three campaigs in Global Giving:
"A Model of Development for the Path of the Tapir"
In the Path of the Tapir - Islands in the Forest
Is it worth it? The Térraba-Sierpe Wetlands.
Where do we work
ASANA’s raison d’être historically has been to protect and improve the connectivity and biodiversity of the Path of the Tapir; but based on the experience acquired during all these years, we have come to realize that to improve the connectivity and biodiversity of the Path of the Tapir and to succeed in our mission, we need to also focus our attention in the surrounded areas.
For that reason in more recent years, ASANA had also been involved in organizing conservation actions in the Savegre River Watershed, located in the northern part of the Corridor. The Savegre River has the reputation of being the cleanest river in Central America. Whether actually true or not, the Savegre watershed represents the most pristine area of the Path of the Tapir. Unfortunately, this watershed is also the most highly threatened portion of the Corridor. For decades now, the Costa Rican Government has been planning to build at least two dams on the Savegre River and thus flood extensive natural areas.
About The Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor
The Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor straddles and connects some of the most biodiverse territory in all of Costa Rica. Surprisingly, however, relatively little is known about the species that inhabit the Corridor and its associated natural areas.
The most extensive systematic study of the Path of the Tapir is the 2000 Rapid Ecological Assessment that ASANA contracted TNC to conduct in preparation for The Costa Rican National Parks System to declare the Path of the Tapir as an official biological corridor. This study continues to be the reference point against which all updates related to species and habitats are evaluated. While these conservation targets continue to be the building blocks of the Path of the Tapir – and it is easy to focus on them as separate features worthy of their own conservation efforts – it is fundamentally a corridor, and thus, ASANA must be forever vigilant to remain focused on maximizing conservation results related to this ecological function.
The Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor and its associated natural areas represent one of the few remaining frontiers of wild space in Costa Rica and as such enjoy an incredible diversity of flora, fauna, habitats, and ecological processes. Occupying the space between three of Costa Rica’s most well-known national parks – Corcovado, Manuel Antonio, and Los Quetzales – it is a largely overlooked biologist’s dream. Scientists and conservation managers mostly drive through the Corridor on the Coastal Highway on their way to the high-profile Osa Peninsula. But the Path of the Tapir and its associated natural areas are, in their own right, worthy of study and exploration. And if the Osa is to remain biologically healthy, the Corridor and its associated natural areas hold the greatest promise of serving the Peninsula as its primary biodiversity insurance policy.
In terms of size and land use, the Corridor is comprised of 82,000 hectares distributed in:
- 39,000 ha of primary and old secondary (greater than 40 years old) forest, including mangrove
- 12,000 ha of relatively young secondary forest (less than 40 years old)
- 21,000 ha of pasture and grassland
- 3,000 ha of forest plantation
- 2,000 ha of wetlands and freshwater systems
- 5,000 ha of commercial farming land
By last count, the Corridor is home to 52 local communities and contains:
- 30 principal rivers of which 28 start within the boundaries of the Corridor
- More than 1000 species of plants
- 146 species of mammals (58 species of bats alone)
- 400+ resident species of birds, 600+ species during migration
- 81 species of reptiles, 6 endemic
- 51 species of amphibians, 4 endemic
Restoration of habitat and key species has occurred primarily because of changes in human land use patterns (e.g., cattle ranching has diminished) while other anthropogenic pressures – including hunting – have remained relatively low over the last few decades. The Path of the Tapir has traditionally been an area sparsely settled primarily for agricultural and small-scale extractive purposes. In the mid-20th century, the greatest impact on the Corridor was cattle ranching and logging. But many of the
Threats to the Corridor were temporary and cyclical in nature, i.e., over time recuperation and natural restoration were possible.
But threats are changing rapidly in the Path of the Tapir. Currently, the Corridor is facing a wide range of threats that fundamentally undermine its core functionality – connectivity. In particular, the Coastal Highway was recently completed and cuts the Corridor in two from north to south. Electrical infrastructure – including at least three high-tension power transmission lines that are planned to traverse and transect the Corridor and three major dams scheduled to flood vast forested areas, will impact particularly important and fragile areas. Multiple concessions are under consideration for massive extraction of rock from the Corridor’s rivers. And finally, with infrastructure development leading to greater accessibility, there has been an explosion in population growth of both nationals and foreigners. Foreign investors have been primarily responsible for buying up large tracts of land for development and this has begun to lead to a form of fragmentation that is more difficult to reverse. Because of their permanence, these current threats are far more troublesome than historical ones.
Meantime, while threats change and grow, opportunities arise as well. There are some excellent models of private land conservation in the Path of the Tapir with more than 5% of the Corridor conserved in privately owned, officially recognized wildlife refuges. Some pioneering mechanisms have been tested and proven to work in the Corridor including the Guapil Ecological Community, which boasts its own private reserve and registration of and compliance with environmental easements on 100% of the privately held properties in the community.
About the Savegre River Watershed
The Savegre River watershed is located on the Central Pacific slope of the Talamanca Mountain Range in Costa Rica. This area covers approximately 590 km2, which represents 1.15% of Costa Rica. The Savegre watershed is dominated by steep slopes and the confluence of the Savegre and Division rivers. An estimated 3,800 people distributed in 35 communities call Savegre home. Population density is low and is concentrated along the banks of the rivers. Because of this, the watershed is extremely intact from a forest-cover perspective.
The health and well-being of the residents of the Savegre are inextricably tied to the health and well-being of the Savegre watershed. Almost all livelihood activities are based on sustainable resource use in the watershed, and residents of the valley have a long-standing tradition of wise-use of its resources. Residents of the upper watershed have fruit orchards, trout farms, and ecotourism businesses. Those who live in the central watershed grow coffee, vegetables, and fruit. Communities in the lower watershed earn their living from palm oil, cattle, and ecotourism as well.
The Savegre River watershed is one of the most biodiverse places in the Costa Rica. It ranges from sea level to more than 3200 meters above sea level. This incredible altitudinal variation combined with a relatively intact ecosystem means that the variety of habitats and species is enormous. The Savegre contains about 20% of all plant species recorded in Costa Rica and is home to more endemic species than any other area of Costa Rica.
Ecosystems of the Savegre watershed are in excellent condition. Forest cover is great in the Savegre: some 62% of the watershed is forested with around 82% connectivity. Because of this, the Savegre watershed is the only remaining intact biological corridor in all of Central America that connects the Pacific Ocean to the Central American Mountain Range (Talamanca).
The Savegre River watershed is the best locally conserved area of Costa Rica. People truly live in harmony with nature here. Perhaps because of the contribution of low population density and its rugged terrain, but one thing remains clear: stewardship by local residents has led to enormous potential for long-term sustainable development in the watershed.