About the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy

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What we are all about

The Maderas Rainforest Conservancy was established to promote the conservation, protection, and management of Mesoamerican forests and animal and plant biodiversity through education, reforestation, preservation, and by working with local communities, national & international institutions, colleges and universities.

The waterfall on our Ometepe property, visited daily by tourists.

The conservancy is the combination of two field sites, La Suerte Biological Field Station in Costa Rica and Ometepe Biological Field Station in Nicaragua. They have been at the forefront of the conservation since the early 1990s.

Increases in real estate sales, irresponsible tourism, live animal capture for the pet trade, and agricultural deforestation have left the species and ecosystems of the Mesomerican forests extremely vulnerable. The MRC exists to combat these growing concerns.

Check out the 2009 Review of the American Society of Primatologists annual meeting which includes a presentation about the field sites of MRC by Dr. Paul Garber.

Our mission is threefold

Deforestation destroys our vulnerable Mesoamerican forests

First and foremost, the mission is to protect the ecosystems of Mesoamerican forests. This is done by purchasing and managing forested and deforested lands in strategic locations, initially in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Deforested Lands will be tactically replanted. Forested lands will be protected from clearing. Animals in those areas will be protected from hunting and capture while allowing them to be studied in a safe environment.

frog saved by our protected forested areas

Secondly, the MRC runs field schools at each our two locations where undergraduate and graduate students can take classes based on the ecosystems of these areas. These classes give students the opportunity to explore Mesoamerican forests and gain a first-hand understanding of the ecelogy therein. It is the hope that these students turn this edcuation into increased awareness of the conservation issues facing both these forests and vulnerable habitats everywhere in the world.

Finally, the MRC seeks to establish a relationship with local communities in the preservation of these lands. It is the philosophy of the MRC that the strongest allies these lands can have are the local communities. Through greater local edcuation of the importance of these lands, greater conservation efforts will be gained.

Our Conservation Initiatives

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Below are detailed descriptions of some of our current conservation initiatives. These initiatives are funded by grant support and private donations. Funds are desperately needed to ensure the success of these projects. If you wish to help, the link below will bring you to our paypal donation site. If you wish to have your donation go directly towards a specific initiative, please let us know in the comment field. All donations to the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy are tax deductible, as the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy is a non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Thank you for your support!

Primate corridors in the forests of Volcan Maderas

Volcán Maderas is made up of a seasonally wet/dry tropical forest. Two primate species are native to the area: mantled black howler monkeys (A. palliata) and white-faced capuchin monkeys (C. capucinus). Both species traditionally act as germinators and seed dispersers in their ecosystems (Wehncke et. al. 2004). Forest fragmentation by agriculturalists in the area have cut off corridors used by both species, leaving large forested areas without either primate species. This has caused a lack of seed dispersal in the ecosystem and is having a profound effect on the other species which rely on the seed dispersers to maintain the ecosystem they have adapted to (Offerman et. al. 1995). The following project proposes to replace the fence posts, which traverse the deforested areas, with gumbo limbo trees (B. simaruba) to hold the fencing material; thus, providing the two arboreal primate species corridors through the deforested areas.

Reforestation of pasture lands in La Suerte, Costa Rica

La Suerte, Costa Rica is in a tropical rainforest basin. The area managed by the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy is one of the few surviving forest fragments in the area. The fragment itself is large enough to sustain the ecosystem within. However it has been bisected by a large pasture, making two forest fragments. The Maderas Rainforest Conservancy is working to reforest this area. Trees are being cultivated in a greenhouse at the site to plant in the pasture area. These trees are the future of one continuous La Suerte rainforest.

Students and the local community work towards reforestation in Costa Rica.

Community Initiatives

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It is of utmost priority to the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy to work cooperatively with the local communities to both preserve the remaining forests and solve the issues brought about by forest fragmentation. For every initiative we undertake, we enlist community help. These issues are first and foremost local community issues. It is for this reason that the local community must be involved in these initiatives. Working together, we can work locally to become part of the global solution to conservation.

Local Schools

Local Students of Ometepe Island are presented with new uniforms by the Maderas Rainforest Conservancy

The young people of Ometepe Island are the future of conservation in the area. The Maderas Rainforest Conservancy is working to pass on what we have learned about the preservation of these forests to the local school children. College students taking field courses at the field station are enlisted to talk to the local children about the work they are doing in the forest and what they are studying. In addition to this, the conservancy donates uniforms to each student at the school.

Foreign Students and Local Students play some soccer

Community Cooperation

In our conservation initiatives, the conservancy enlists the help and cooperation of the local community. For our living fence proposal, we are working with local land owners to best strategize the fencing locations which can be mutually beneficial to both the habitat and the local agriculture.

The Maderas Rainforest Conservancy works with local landowners to cooperately solve the issues arising from forest fragmentation.

Field Schools

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Map of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, with arrows pointing to both of Maderas Rainforest Conservancy field schools: Ometepe Biological Field School and La Suerte Biological Field School.

La Suerte & Ometepe Field Schools

Primate Behavior students checking out the monkeys for research data

The Maderas Rainforest Conservancy operates at two field stations which offer a variety of classes for students at both the undergraduate and graduate level. La Suerte (Costa Rica) and Ometepe (Nicaragua) Biological Field Stations were established in 1993. We are proud caretakers of privately owned forested land. We have dedicated our efforts to providing a safe place for scientists and future scientists to train by offering boarding, research facilities, and a variety college level field and research courses. The classes bring students into direct contact with the environment they are studying. We offer courses in various disciplines including Primate Behavior and Ecology, Rain Forest Ecology, Primate Communication, Cloud Forest Ecology, Ornithology, Entomology, Herpetology, Inventorying Biodiversity, Tropical Ethnobotany, and Art and Photography. Beside our field classes we are also available to host year round, independent researchers, independent groups (high school and college level), charity and medical missions, and private gatherings. Tropical forests remain in danger of extinction due to economic pressures. We remain dedicated to protecting their existence by promoting conservation and education. We welcome you to join us in our efforts.