Merry Christmas from all of us at Cloudbridge!
Our Christmas and holiday celebration also included guests staying at our Casita Blanca, friends and neighbours.
A big thank you to the Krishnan family from Conneticut who were with us over Christmas. They enjoyed the reserve so much that they donated $500.00 to purchase some camera traps!
Volunteers and Research:
An ARO group from Ottawa was here helping to build up a section of the bank around the classroom which will one day allow us to get a truck to the vivero (tree nursery). This involved moving dirt (and some BIG rocks) from one side of the building to the other side. Their enthusiasm and good spirits while moving wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt was a pleasure to work with. We even unearthed a Cane Toad while digging, and after a brief science lesson and some photos, we safely re-homed him to a different part of the yard, well away from the digging. Afterwards they went to the local hot springs to soak their sore muscles, which was well earned!
Alice Donoghue from Toronto is a volunteer. She has no academic background in biology but is truly interested in learning more about the environment and ecology. She hopes to gain some insight into what she can do to help in this area and how her practice of being a vegan ties into the picture. Little did she know that being a vegan already has a carbon footprint that is less than ½ that of a meat loving diet. Her goal here is to better understand all of this and come up with what she can do locally to make a global impact.
Lou Eney is from California. He is volunteering for a month. He has a bachelors in Environmental Science and has done lots of volunteer conservation work. He left his last job to travel. At Cloudbridge he has helped on owl surveys and is also doing general handyman projects (because he is a very handy man). He wants to spend 2 months in Costa Rica.
Laura Antonaru finished her 3 month internship of plant identification on the reserve. Most were herbaceous plants and shrubs.
She concentrated on plants that grew near the trails and had the opportunity to thrive because of the light gaps. She started her presentation by saying ‘Trees can be bad”. We were all a little taken aback by this comment as we are big tree lovers. But then she went on to say – meaning that other plants don’t always appreciate the shade and lack of sunlight for them to grow. That is how forest successions evolve – from herbaceous and small treelets that are eventually out competed by larger trees.
Laura identified 110 herbaceous species and left us with a list including photos to add to our website.
Our three new GVI interns started this month.
Not long after they arrived and started studying the birds these guys put together a presentation called ‘Little Birdies – the difficulties of identifying them’ This is so true. With 300 species at the reserve and many of them with very similar features and color it is a difficult task to make accurate identifications. It can be the slightest variation that distigueshes them. The presentation reminded all of us of how challenging birding is.
Neil Hancart was born in Belgium, lived in Spain for awhile and now calls the US home. He finished high school and was not sure what he wanted to pursue. He loves nature and decided to join GVI in Costa Rica to do an internship. This brought him to Cloudbridge where he will help with the bird surveys but also be the primary researcher for the butterfly survey.
Spencer Kane from Wisconsin USA is doing an internship with GVI so that he can figure out what direction he wants to go next with his education. He is enjoying environmental work. His responsibility at Cloudbridge is the bird survey and he says “I didn’t used to be interested in birds but now they are cool”.
Nicholas Flood from Sweden is also here through his GVI internship. He has studied natural science, animal husbandry, and ecology. When he goes back to Europe he wants to continue to travel a little longer…..if his mother agrees to look after his cats.
Global Vision International (GVI) is multi-award wining social enterprise that runs high impact volunteer and international education programs.
Where Are They Now?
Marloes Froling -A former researcher who did an internship at Cloudbridge in 2012 recently graduated from University.
“After I left cloudbridge, now more than 4 years ago, I also have been on a fieldtrip to Surinam with our class of tropical forestry. Here we performed a forest management plan for a local community. I have finished my bachelors in 2014, by writing a final thesis at my internship at Centre ValBio in Madagascar about tree development of replanted areas. This was actually a place that Drew (another former Cloudbridge researcher) recommended to me during my stay in Costa Rica. After finishing my bachelors, I went to the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, where I entered the master’s program Environmental Sciences. At first I wanted to continue with forest and nature conservation at the university, but when I came across the Environmental Sciences program I figured out that this was also a big passion of mine and that together with tropical forestry it would make a great fit. During the last two years I followed many Environmental Sciences related courses in the major Environmental Systems Analysis. I figured out how important the connection of economy with ecology sometimes is and therefore I followed some economic courses as well. My final thesis at Wageningen contained an analysis study towards the global effects of changing diets on the N and P runoff to surface waters. It was quite interesting to analyse the N and P flows in our agricultural systems.
Since October I finished my final internship at a project based company called ‘nature doublers’ in Amsterdam that focusses on biodiversity, ecosystems, and natural capital. Here I worked on an action plan to measure and decrease the biodiversity impact of mining practices in the beverage can supply chain. I figured out my passion for analysing supply chains (cradle to cradle) and how to make them more sustainable. I might be able to help this company a little bit more on some projects in the future, but this is not certain due to their company size. For the rest, I am focussing of finding a job in my field of study, which is not so easy unfortunately. Due to my lack in technical or policy based background I am not qualified enough for most of the vacancies. But it has only been a couple of weeks yet, so I will not lose hope and keep looking. An ideal job for me would hopefully also include some fieldwork abroad because I still want to see a lot more of the world. For example, I now am trying to connect into the world of sustainable palm oil and other products, which is very interesting because here I can combine my knowledge of sustainability and tropical forestry. Well this was more or less what I have done the past couple of years and what I am hoping to do in the future.”
Congratulations Marloes on all of your hard work!