The day starts out early. My assistant, Juan, and I are in the car driving towards Rincon de la Vieja a little after 6 am. We arrive at Hacienda Lodge Guachipelin and greet the owner, Don Tomas. He sets us up in the restaurant to talk about the land. I have worked with many landowners here in Guanacaste—I’ve had farm limits sketched for me with sticks in dusty patches of earth—but Don Tomas pulls up google earth and shows us the forest, rivers, roads, and points out the property limits.
Juan and I hop back in the car and head towards a patch of oak forest. Juan and I will delineate a forest plot that is 50 by 20 m. Within the plot, we will measure and identify all tree species with a girth of 5 cm or above at 1.3 m height. I have been working in farms all around Guanacaste for the past 7 months and the data from this plot will be added to the dataset I am building of private forests in Guanacaste. I will use this dataset to assess tree biodiversity and carbon stocks on private farms within Guanacaste. Within the plot, we will also collect soil samples to assess soil chemical and physical properties. For the carbon stocks, I will use species-specific wood density measurements to estimate the carbon stored in trees. Costa Rica has done a superb job of protecting forests—25% of Costa Rican land is officially protected. Yet the majority of forests (~76%) are on private lands. Therefore, understanding carbon stocks in private forest are important for helping Costa Rica reach its goal of becoming the first carbon neutral nation by 2021.
The first plot we set up on Hacienda Lodge Guachipelin property is young secondary forests of between 10—15 years. The plot is dense with young trees and Juan and I maneuver through the stand and place the flags to outline the plot. Juan gets started collecting the soils and I measure tree girth and identify species. The plot is within an oak (Quercus oleoides) dominated forest; interestingly, Guanacaste is the Sothern limit of the oak genus.
Also in the plot are the ubiquitous bullhorn acacia (Acacia cornigera). Bullhorned acacia have a remarkable symbiotic relationship with ants; the plant provides a place for the ants to live (hallow thorns) and food to eat (glands that produce sugars). The ants, in return, provide fierce protection. If you have ever bumped up against a bullhorned acacia, you’ll know instantly the fiery sting of that protection. On a bullhorned acacia in the plot I notice a beetle who has impaled himself on the needle end of a thorn. The ants are furious and swarming and the poor beetle is flailing. I feel like I am watching an action packed sequence on the Discovery Channel.
Once we complete the plot, we drive to another part of the property and find some oak forest that is about 20-25 years. This plot is much more pleasant to work in—the canopy is dense, are birds singing above us as we work, and there are lovely purple-flowered vines in bloom.
This plot is also an oak-dominated forest but there are a few species that I haven’t come across yet in Guanacaste. Although I’ve been avidly studying the tree species, there are still plenty that I am not familiar with. When I come across a tree species that I don’t know, I do one of two things: (1) collect leaf samples for later identification or (2) tag the tree with biodegradable flagging and return with a botanical expert. Today I am tagging, so I slip blue tagging tape around the tree. The next tree I measure is one of my favorites, perhaps because I learned it early on so it feels like an old acquaintance Madroño (Calycophyllum candidissimum). The genus name, Calycophyllum, is fitting because the tree bark is the color of a calico cat.
Juan and I finish up the plot and head out of the forest. This has been a great day. We head down the road as the sun turns top of the forest orange.
NatureAir, the world’s first carbon neutral airline, announces that families looking to travel on a budget this year can have their wish. The airline is bringing back its popular Kids Fly Free program, making transportation for a family of four much more affordable.
This time, Nature Air is bringing some of the finest hotels in Costa Rica on board to offer families an entire unforgettable vacation at an unbeatable price. The Kids Fly Free program will be offered from April 20 through Dec. 15 for children 12-years-old and under with the purchase of two adult tickets, when booked through select Nature Air partner hotels. Kids will enjoy free flights and free stays, making your family vacation to Costa Rica that much more attainable. Select hotels are also offering free meals for children throughout their stay.
“As a frequent traveler and father, with one on the way, I understand the financial impact of taking the whole family on vacation,” said Alexi Huntley, commercial director of Nature Air. “Costa Rica offers such unique adventures and learning opportunities that children could never experience at home. This summer it’s our goal to make vacations to Costa Rica more attainable for families with young kids.”
The following hotels are partnering with NatureAir to offer this exceptional program:
* Punta Islita, Punta Islita
* Tamarindo Diria, Tamarindo
* Hacienda Guachipelin, Liberia
* Bahia Del Sol, Tamarindo
* Mediterraneus, Tamarindo
* Harmony Hotel, Nosara, Playa Guiones
Tambor and Santa Teresa Area:
* Luz de Vida, Tambor
* Tangomar, Tambor
* Playa Carmen, Tambor
* Latitude 10, Santa Teresa
Arenal Volcano Area:
* Lavas Tacotel, Arenal
* Arenal Manoa, Arenal
* Royal Corin, Arenal
* Arenal Lodge, Arenal
Manuel Antonio area:
* Inn on the Park, Quepos
* Monterey del Mar, Quepos
* Villas Rio Mar, Quepos
* Villas Lirio, Quepos
* Hotel Si Como No, Quepos
* Arenas del Mar, Quepos
* Aguila de Osa Inn, Drake Bay
* Lapa Rios, Cabo Matapalo, Puerto Jimenez
For a complete list of flight schedules and prices visit www.natureair.com or call 1-800-235-9272. To reserve flights for the Kids Fly Free program, contact the specified hotels directly. For vacation information contact NatureAir’s eco-friendly travel division NatureVacations (www.naturevacations.com).
NatureAir is the world’s first certified carbon neutral airline and the fastest growing regional airline in Central America. Since its inception in 2000, NatureAir has grown from flying 18,000 passengers annually to more than 140,000 in 2008. NatureAir is the only twin-engine airline in Costa Rica with both scheduled and chartered flights, and offers 74 daily flights to 17 destinations in Costa Rica and Panama.
NatureAir’s voluntary 100% carbon neutrality program ensures that every flight’s carbon emissions are compensated by guaranteeing conservation of forests in the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica. The airline’s commitment to saving energy extends to its use of bio-diesel (cooking oils) to run the company’s entire fleet of ground equipment and diesel vans. NatureAir is a proud sponsor of the Rainforest Alliance, World Heritage Alliance, Climate Neutral Network, The Ecotourism Society, and founded the NatureKids Foundation. The World Travel & Tourism Council, Rainforest Alliance, Conde Nast Traveler and Virgin Holidays have recognized NatureAir for its sustainability efforts. For more information visit: http://www.natureair.com
Here is a very interesting video that shows some facts about our country. This video explains why is it that in a very small country, with not a big source of income, lots of things can be accomplished. The Costa Rican way of life, happy and peaceful, with no army but and army of school teachers. And another interesting fact, our belief in soustainability, and our new countries goal, becoming the first carbon neutral country.
A place to experience all of this is Rincon de la Vieja area, where there is presently being developed a clean energy project, a Geothermal electrical generation project, as well as one of the most visited nationals parks, with lots of volcanic activity, often being called the Yellowstone of Costa Rica.
Rincon de la Vieja is located north of Costa Rica, in the Guanacaste province, just about an hour away from Papagayo Gulf and about 1 1/2 hour away from Tamarindo beach.