We end our year with the satisfaction of good work achieved at the reserve in 2015 and our wish is for a healthy and safe planet for everyone in the New Year! May the refugees find new homes and be welcomed around the world. We hope for peace and tolerance of cultural differences. May there be a renewal of hope for productive climate change policies to take shape in every country in order to restore balance for the earth.
There has been such a variety of people that have come to our reserve from so many nations around the world. They have shown us that no matter what their culture, religion or social status that working together for the better good can happen! Thanks to all of you who have made such a difference by giving your time and energy to the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. All we ask is that you continue the momentum of environmental stewardship on your journey, wherever it may lead.
Volunteers and Researchers:
Simon McDonald (his great-grandfather was Irish!) – From Toulouse, France.
Simon has just graduated, having completed a Masters Degree in Image and Sound Systems which involves visual and audio engineering. He is now travelling and this is his first time in Costa Rica and the Americas. He wanted to volunteer in a nature reserve, to work with nature in order to provide a balance with what he did before (IT and computers) and to improve his Spanish in Central America. He helped us by sifting sand, mixing concrete and installing wire. After spending 3 weeks at Cloudbridge he continued his journey to Panama and Colombia .
Nathan Weaver – Clemson, South Carolina, USA
He has just completed his Masters Degree in Wildlife Biology and wanted to reward himself with with the gift of a trip to Costa Rica between finishing his studies and starting work. He wanted to climb Chirripo, which he achieved. While googling San Gerardo he came across the Cloudbridge website.
He is just about to start work as a Natural Resource Biologist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Paul & Brenda from Canada, – These two are traveling Central America and have stopped at the reserve to help us out for a month. Brenda is a retired Veterinarian who owned a specialized feline practice for 15 years. Paul is a retired sales engineer with experience in power generation, renewable energy, pumps and other infrastructure type equipment. They both rolled up their sleeves and helped with construction, retrofitting filters for the hydroelectric system and a host of other system issues. We were happy to have them join us with the varied experience they brought with them.
Bridget Kelly from Australia was a quick study, jumping in on her first day to do finish work on the cabina. She did the final troweling and sponging down of cement wall covering. Bridget’s previous experience was with the World Wildlife Fund – co-ordinator of volunteers, Lattitude -English Teacher (Vietnam), and Blogger – social justice issues.
The organization ARO from Quebec Canada spent 10 days in Costa Rica. One of their projects included helping out at Cloudbridge. They worked on our very rough road and also improved the drainage in the parking area.
New cabina progress thanks to all of our volunteers!
Thoughts from past volunteers:
“As an avid nature lover and lifelong student of biology, I was immediately drawn to Cloudbridge for its offer of volunteer work that focused on many different avenues of scientific research/thought. My experience there was lovely, giving me the chance to learn about the forest around me while I work along side a beautiful group of people from all over.
Tom taught me and my fellow volunteers about the tree species we were planting and the history of the land we were reforesting. Jen, a researcher there studying the biodiversity of our amphibian friends at varying degrees of regrowth, took me out to go frogging. One of those nights in particular is one of the most memorable nights from my trip. We had treked to the first transect of the night, a fair climb up after crossing a shallow creek that tumbles in a series of cascades down the side of the mountain, admits a steady rain, nothing out of ordinary. Once we a started walking the transect, scouting for frogs on either side, the rain picked up and then it picked up again and again, each time with me not believing it could be raining harder. Since no frog would possibly be out such weather, we turned back. the path had turned into a creek, water rushed past our rubber boots sometimes deceptively leading off the path and falling over a steep side. The rain fell so thickly that only a few feet were illuminated by our headlamps and sky turned purple with lightning. It was beautiful. We slowly worked our way down the path, laughing to let off steam. The small creek had turned into a torrent so we waited under a sign for a few hours trading stories and waiting for it to slow. What a good time, adventure and camaraderie!
Still the list of good people and times can go on: Linda’s art gallery filled with colorful trees and her amazing chocolate cake, playing cards with Barbara and David, birding with Frank. If you are reading this blog entry trying to figure out if you should visit the reserve, do it, the land is rich and vibrant. Volunteering? I recommend it, the work is physical and leaves you feeling dirty and satisfied at the end of the day. So yes to Cloudbridge, thank you for existing and especially thanks to all the people who work to make it a living possibility in this world” – Clara
“Breathing in a world so full of windbag egotists is gonna be hard without our green, oxygen assembling friends. Mother Earth is a hardy woman, and she’ll do fine with or without us. But for those who want to aid the situation, Cloudbridge is certainly part of the redemption, and I would go back 1000 times! Thanks again Tom and Linda. Hope we make it back some day, it was an amazing time.” – Matt
Fun and the Christmas Spirit:
On Christmas Day the gang were all invited down to our neighbours house – Thank you Bill and Beth for being such gracious hosts and for making Christmas away from home for our volunteers a special day.
As part of the Observatories de Aves Valle de El General (OAVE) group our manager Frank went to help them out on their very first Christmas bird count. The Christmas bird count is a tradition that dates back to the 1800’s. Back then it was more about hunting birds until bird watching became popular. Now Christmas bird counts are held all over the world. Frank and 14 other bird enthusiasts from the area got together in Rivas a few miles from Cloudbridge and split into 5 groups of 3 people to explore the different birding hotspots in the area. Frank joined a group that would take him into uncharted territory ( lower elevations) and it opened up a whole new birding experience. As the elevation dropped the species changed dramatically and he saw new birds such as the tropical gnatcatcher, southern beardless flycatcher and although it was only the female and not the dazzling male a Turquoise Cotinga. All in all it was a great birding day with his group recording 76 different species.
The outcome of the Paris Climate talks is encouraging but now there is much work to do. The goal has been set to limit the rise of the world average temperature to well below 2 degrees C. They agree that this goal should be extended to a 1.5 degree C limit. To the average person this goal sounds like they would like to do the ultimate effort but there is no firm pledge for that.
In many areas of the world it is not yet noticeable. In my home province of Saskatchewan Canada weather extremes fluctuate constantly and so it is often assumed that weather anomalies are normal. But a little further north near the shores of Hudson Bay it is more obvious as the polar bears this time of year are restlessly pacing along the waters edge waiting for the ice flows to accumulate so that they can hunt for seals. Each year the ice is slower to form and puts these bears at risk. They are forced to stay longer and are getting hungrier.
Here in Costa Rica there are noticeable changes. The drought in the north of the country has some hotels already hauling water because their aquifers have dried up. The dry season hasn’t even begun. This year the entire rainy season has accumulated less rain than normal.
195 countries were in agreement to cut emissions at the Paris Climate talks. Again this sounds promising but it will take everyone, not just the environmentalists and activists to keep the pressure on our governments to fulfill these hefty obligations.
Each of us can take action and make a difference. Here is how:
- Become knowledgeable about climate change and spread the word.
- Join climate marches, go to meetings and conferences.
- Talk to your local government, write an article for a local newspaper or other publication.
- Vote responsibly. Politicians who are in denial are carelessly putting future generations at risk.
- Be a smart consumer when buying products and for diet consumption choices. (Meat eaters are responsible for twice as much global warming as those on a plant based diet). But also buy less!
- Use public transportation, walk or bike when possible.
- Homeowners could consider installing solar energy and be aware of the amount of electricity you use.
- Plant trees!
The obstacles that stand in the way of reducing carbon emissions are partly due to our lack of will power. We can and have to make the right choices. The path will not be easy but it is one that we must all follow.
What is your New Years Resolution??? Please send us your promise for a greener year!