Last week, I had a pretty incredible week. Anyone who follows me on Twitter will have seen some of my tweets, that announced that I would be travelling to the OSA peninsula in Costa Rica, in just 8 weeks time! I am reeling from the speed at which this wonderful trip has turned into reality and it will take a while for it to really sink in!
So, how has a trip like this come about? It all stems from a meeting some years ago now, with a wonderful conservation biologist, Andy Whitworth. Andy came and met me here in Lichfield just before he embarked on a pretty incredible trip to the Manu rainforest in Peru. Andy had been doing some amazing work with trail cams and was keen to get Bushnell involved in his next round of research. Andy and I hit is off straight away! He is incredibly enthusiastic and passionate and we shared a common passion for wildlife.
Andy told me all about his research in Manu studying the value of regenerating tropical forests and their potential importance for future levels of biodiversity. The research looked particularly at richness, abundance and diversity levels of birds, mammals, butterflies, amphibians and reptiles within forests of different disturbance histories. Andy had developed a technique that involved mounting Bushnell right up in the tropical rainforest trees, to monitor arboreal creatures within these regenerating forest areas and needed as many Bushnells as possible to continue this work. Working with Andy and Bushnell UK, we secured some really good deals for Andy, with Bushnell also donating a number of cameras for the project . I was extremely excited about this project and gutted that I was not in a position to join Andy in Manu. He kept me up to date with progress….
I regularly received excited emails from Andy with some spectacular Bushnell footage that I could only dream of capturing some day..
Andy’s work really showcased how trail cams have become an essential piece of kit within research work such as this. Not only can they do the work of hundreds of researchers, but they are capturing footage and evidence of species that would be almost impossible for humans to see.
Andy has now completed his PhD and is now working for OSA Conservation on the OSA peninsula in Costa Rica. I must admit, I had not heard of the OSA peninsula, but I knew that Costa Rica is one of the most incredible places on Earth for wildlife.
Osa Conservation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the globally significant biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.
The most biologically intense place on earth
This remote corner of Costa Rica harbors 2.5% of the biodiversity of the entire planet in less than a thousandth of a percent of its total surface area.
Named by National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on earth,” the Osa Peninsula is a true jewel of land, water, and life. Covering an area of just 700 square miles on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the Osa’s geological history makes it home to a nearly unparalleled amount of biodiversity.
Once an island floating in the Pacific, the Osa evolved in isolation until it merged with mainland Costa Rica by way of the same fault system that extends to California. Located along the Central American isthmus, Costa Rica itself is a hotspot of biological diversity, as innumerable species poured into the land bridge created when the two American hemispheres joined together. When the Osa Peninsula joined the mix nearly 2 million years ago, the area became a tropical landscape of unprecedented richness. The Peninsula is estimated to house 2.5% of the biodiversity of the entire world – while covering less than a thousandth of a percent of its total surface area – truly earning its title as the most biological intense place on earth.
One of the last places in Costa Rica to be settled and still sparsely populated, the Osa is covered almost entirely in magnificent, virgin rainforest extending all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Separating it from the mainland is the Golfo Dulce – one of only four tropical fjords on the planet. The Golfo Dulce is in fact the only place on the globe where populations of both Northern and Southern Humpback whales meet to birth their young. The Osa packs an unparalleled amount of land and marine species and diverse ecosystems in an incredibly small area, including:
The most significant wetland ecosystem and mangrove forests of Central America
The largest remaining tract of lowland rainforest in Pacific Mesoamerica
2-3% of flora found nowhere else in the world
323 endemic species of plants and vertebrates
The largest population of scarlet macaws in Central America
More than 4,000 vascular plants
More than 10,000 insects
More than 700 species of trees (which is more than all the Northern temperate regions combined)
463 species of birds
140 mammals, including 25 species of dolphins and whales
4 species of sea turtles
These incredible ecosystems provide invaluable services to the people who depend on them for clean air, drinking water, food, jobs, cultural resources and a stable climate – and so their conservation is critical.
Osa at a Crossroads
The Osa Peninsula is under increasing pressure from proposed national transportation and hydroelectric infrastructure projects, industrial agriculture, illegal resource extraction, and the unmeasured impacts of global climate change. In the absence of proper research, planning and land-use policies, development trends in Osa are poised to threaten the region’s rich ecosystems while providing few lasting benefits to local communities.
The Osa is at a critical juncture. Appropriate small-scale development must be balanced with sound environmental practices to provide sustainable social and economic opportunities. Now more than ever, there is a pressing need to work together to establish a regional strategy for sustainable development and biodiversity protection in the face of these challenges. Osa Conservation’s efforts are focused on supporting these efforts and carrying out a vision for the long-term health and viability of Osa’s habitats, people and wildlife.
A pretty special place, eh? So when Andy dropped me an email to tell me about his new job and the opportunities it offered, not to mention the wildlife, I was very interested. … and keen to hear more about it all. Over the last week, I have been in contact with Andy and one of the Directors, learning about some exciting new projects that are happening in the Trust that I am hoping I will become a part of in the future…. a future that is now only 8 weeks away! On the 6th August, I will be flying out to Costa Rica, to join Andy and it really is a dream trip. Although I will only be there a week, I hope to share with you this wonderful region and the work that OSA Conservation are doing now, and with future projects, to protect and conserve this incredible part of the world.
You can find out more about the trust and the phenomenal wildlife in this region by clicking on the image below….. this is really what got my heart pounding and I must have looked at this page 100 times since Thursday, when it was confirmed that I really would be going!
Obviously, this trip is the most exciting I have ever undertaken and I will be sharing it both on my blog and my website…. so if I can contain my excitement for the next 8 weeks, you should be able to learn a lot more about this part of the world, why it is so important for wildlife and what can and is being done to protect it.
Watch this space!