Presentation on theme: "Ecological Restoration in Costa Rica Fred Loxsom 1303 April 21, 2003."— Presentation transcript:
Ecological Restoration in Costa Rica Fred Loxsom 1303 April 21, 2003
Sustainable Development Rio Declaration on Environment and Development Principle 3 The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.
Sustainable Development Rio Declaration on Environment and Development Principle 9 States should cooperate to strengthen endogenous capacity-building for sustainable development by improving scientific understanding through exchanges of scientific and technological knowledge, and by enhancing the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of technologies, including new and innovative technologies.
Wildlife Conservation Development can destroy wildlife habitat and cause the loss of valuable natural resources. Sustainable development must conserve these resources for future generations.
Ecological Restoration In some cases, restoration of damaged ecological resources is necessary. As an example, we will look at Dry Tropical Forest in Costa Rica.
Dry Tropical Forest 500 years ago, 200,000 square miles from Central Mexico to Panama. Profoundly threatened! Less than 2% remains. Less than 0.1% of the original has conservation status. More rare than tropical rain forest. Pressure from logging, farming, ranching.
Characteristics Pacific coastal lowlands Tropical with prolonged dry season (5-8 months). 40 – 80 inches rain. In rain shadow of central mountain chain
Deciduous Forest During the dry season 80% of the trees lose their leaves. 23,000 species. 65% of species in CR Fewer plant and bird species than in rainforest Variety of insects and mammals about the same
Vegetation Low stature (30 m) Semi-deciduous Leguminosae family Upper story - deciduous Lower story – evergreens Understory – thorny trees
Endangered Species Many rare and endangered species live in the dry tropical forest, including an endangered species of spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) Many endemic species
Deforestation Unlike rainforest land, tropical dry forest is good agricultural land and is useful for ranching and farming (sugar cane, corn, and beans.)
Guanacaste Project Using the remaining islands of dry tropical forest as seed sources, restore a large section of dry tropical forest Involve local Ticos in the project so that they support it and profit from it.
Guanacaste Conservation Area Starting in the mid 80s, Daniel Janzen, University of Penn., led an effort to establish a large park in Guanacaste. Dry Tropical Forest would be restored in this park. 120,000 terrestrial hectares (300,000 acres – ½ size of RI)
Reason #1 Dry season magnifies the differences between habitats and a large park provides a heterogeneous environment
Reason #2 Tapirs, jaguars, and mountain lions – need large area to maintain healthy breeding populations
Reason #3 Agricultural effects penetrate for 2 km into a natural area. Large area is needed to minimize these edge effects.
Reason #4 Many animals migrate to moist areas during dry season. A large preserve is needed to protect migration routes
Reason #5 Duplicate habitats are needed for ecotourism, scientific study, and conservation.
Reason #6 GCA is watershed providing drinking water and irrigation for communities. (Rio Sapoa’ & Rio Tempisque)
Restoration Plan Control of Fires Natural recolonization (low cost) Managed restoration Sustaining the forest
Fire Used to clear land of trees Set by ranchers Provides habitat for exotic grasses
Jaragua grass Hyparrhenia rufa Exotic grass Cattle graze on it. Suppression of fire allows trees to dominate over exotic grasses.
Texas Grassland Restoration In Texas, fire is used to maintain native grasses against the encroachment of cedar and exotic grasses
Natural Recolonization Natural, wind dispersal of seeds can move a forest several hundred meters in 10 years. 25% of the 215 tree species in Santa Rosa NP are wind-dispersed and would be pioneers.
Natural Recolonization Animal dispersers drop seeds in dung Produces nuclear trees which produces habitat for seed dispersing animals. Some seeds must pass through animals to germinate.
Managed Restoration GCA plants 4000 – 9000 trees each year. Usually native trees, but some experiments with non-natives as pioneers.
Sustaining the Forest Low cost $3,000,000 endowment Local farmers as caretakers, guides, and fire fighters. All employees are Costa Ricans. With InBio, bioprospecting.
Success? Restoring the distribution of plants and the diversity of animals to a degraded landscape will take 100 or more years. Success will depend upon the value of this project to the people of Costa Rica.
How faithful a restoration? Since trees that disperse seeds by wind will be the pioneers – entering cleared land, doesn’t this mean that the composition of the restored forest will be different from the original forest?
What about exotic plants? Can exotic plants (e.g. jaragua grass) ever be eliminated from the dry tropical forest? If it can’t be eliminated, can the forest really be regenerated?
The Role of Fire Why does fire play such a different role in maintaining prairies in the US and destroying forest in Central America? Is fire a part of the natural environment in both situations?
Protecting the Park Wouldn’t it be better to make the GCA a protected area and keep locals and tourists out of it? Isn’t that what we do in Yellowstone and other US National Parks?
The Role of Foreigners What is the proper role of foreigners in the conservation of Costa Rica’s natural resources? Is it appropriate that Daniel Janzen played such a large role?
Ecotourism What is ecotourism? What role should ecotourism play in sustaining GCA?
Bioprospecting GCA cooperates with InBio to do bioprospecting in the park. In turn, InBio will make deals with pharmaceutical firms to produce commercial products. Is this appropriate?