• photo: Carlos R. Garcia

    Costa Rica: Preventing Ecosystem Collapse on the Osa Peninsula: a Citizen-science based surveillance alliance

In Brief

Location:

Osa Peninsula, southwest Costa Rica

Goal:

To increase ecosystem resilience by restoring apex predator and prey populations and habitat connectivity in the Osa Peninsula

Conservation Value:

The Osa Peninsula contains the largest mesic rainforest remaining on the Pacific slope of Central America, largely within Corcovado National Park. It also has the largest expanse of mangrove wetlands on the Pacific slope of Central America and a unique coastal marine ecosystem—the Golfo Dulce tropical fjord.  The Osa Peninsula is hotspot for biological diversity. It is estimated to house 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity while covering less than 0.001% of its total surface area, and was described by National Geographic in 2016 as “the most biological intense place on earth”.

Threats:

The main threat in the Osa Peninsula is illegal hunting, which is still prevalent in the region.  The concern is greatest with respect to the lowland paca (Cuniculus paca), white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), and collared peccary (Pecari tajacu). Many other species are also hunted to a lesser degree, including game birds such as: tinamou (Tinamus major and Tinamus major castaneiceps) and great curassow (Crax rubra).  Research has identified key areas of hunting pressure in the region, however no concerted effort yet been made to reduce or eradicate illegal hunting on the peninsula. A recent presentation at the 21st Mesoamerican Congress in San Jose, Costa Rica in 2017 revealed that bushmeat offtake could be around 28.5 kg per year, for each family hunting in the peninsula.

                                    A white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) wallow

                                               “El Tigre" - jaguar (Panthera Onca)

Actions & Results:

2018 & 2019 Highlights

• Osa Conservation (OC) is leading a conservation effort that mobilizes citizen scientists, community members, ecotourism operators, park administrators and multiple NGOs. Actions include installing an acoustic monitoring system in the forest canopy, which along with the Osa Camera Trap Network, serves as the rainforest’s eyes and ears and enhances the effectiveness of guardaparques. Community participation is key to better understanding and influencing the socio-cultural dimensions of conservation in the region and for collecting the requisite scientific data.

• Twelve forest acoustic monitoring devices were deployed in 2018. Three of these are streaming live and you can get the Rainforest Connection App on iOS or Android to listen to the calming noises of the rainforest at Osa Verde Biological Station, Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve, and Corcovado National Park. In addition, 25,000 native forest trees and over 13,600 mangrove trees (of four species) were planted, and 280 bird boxes were also installed in 2018.

• Monitoring and enforcement activities conducted in 2018, in collaboration with local Community Biological Monitoring Groups, the Department of Protection and Control of the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica (MINAE), and Special Police Units, resulted in two police operatives around Corcovado National Park that led to the arrests of several people carrying out illegal gold mining and hunting activities in the region.

• Thanks to the expansion of the Osa Camera Trap Network (OCTN), major strides were made in 2019 in deterring illegal human activities and augmenting the ability of government officials and private landowners to respond to illegal incursions. The OCTN monitors 8,650 hectares that border protected areas – land that is owned by OC, eco-lodges and private finca owners.

• OC’s rapid-response rangers (COVIRENAS) completed 1,649 km of patrols in 2019, leading to the arrest of 13 illegal gold miners within Corcovado National Park.

• OC planted over 20,000 mangrove trees and initiated wildlife monitoring in its program to kick-start regeneration in degraded forest patches.

• Over 2,000 participants received tropical rewilding education through a wide variety of experiential activities and workshops, and OC provided citizen science and conservation technology training to four local biological monitoring groups in forest dependent communities. All of this is bringing a noticeable cultural transformation towards conservation in the Osa Peninsula.

Zero in on one community involved in this project in this short video from the Our Planet series.

Project Field Partner:

Osa Conservation

Size of Area Involved:

1,093 km² (about the size of Cape Breton Highlands National Park)

Cost:

2020 budget (ICFC portion): US$114,474
Cumulative cost to ICFC (2018-2019): CA$168,730

Support this project

Video

Pantropical spotted dolphins in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica, Jan. 2020 (Credit: Jason Schuy).

In More Depth...

Videos

         Osa SAFER – Rainforest Heroes of the Osa Peninsula: Tomas Ridings Muñoz

         Osa SAFER – Rainforest Heroes of the Osa Peninsula: Marvin López Morales

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