Hydroponic Gardening for Sustainable Community Development at Finca Rosa Blanca Plantation & Inn in Costa Rica

Buy a Bag, Grow a Garden
Hydroponic Gardening for Sustainable Community Development

Introduction
At Finca Rosa Blanca we have a long history of working towards the well being of our surrounding community. We have worked with the area schools, the local food bank, the environmental group “Patrullas Ecologicas”, and the senior citizens home. Through the years we have improved infrastructure for these groups and increased their environmental awareness; we have reforested and improved waste recycling; and we have provided skills training and opportunities for improving income generation. Our latest project of hydroponic gardening will augment interest in more sustainable living while at the same time implement an activity that in itself leads to more sustainable community development.

Requiring relatively small space and minimal materials hydroponic gardens are a source of fresh produce contributing to healthier diets and increasing local food production, which we know helps reduce the carbon footprint. These gardens are simple and fun to establish and maintain, and can even beautify a space.

Project Purpose
Buy a Bag, Grow a Garden involves community members and children in the production of fresh produce for local consumption, and in the improvement of waste recycling in order to increase awareness of more sustainable living and improve nutritional value of local diets. It responds directly to the needs of the Santa Barbara community to develop appropriate solid waste management processes as well as the impoverished community’s need to supplement diet at minimal costs.

How does it work? Produce will be grown by the local environmental group Patrullas Ecologicas. All produce grown by the Patrullas Ecologicas will be donated to the food bank, where many of the children and youth of this environmental group receive one free hot meal a day. In return for receiving fresh produce the food bank and its clients will commit to the improvement of their recycling center so that it may adequately receive the community’s recyclables. These recyclables are sold to the larger companies that process the material and the income earned is re-invested in the operation of the food bank.
Finca Rosa Blanca and its gardening and sustainability teams provide the space and know-how for creating the hydroponics garden and they also provide the guidance for improved management of the recycling center.

Why do this? Buy a Bag, Plant a Bag is a relevant undertaking for sustainable living in our community for the following reasons.

It encourages better solid waste management among the community.

The project will directly help increase the amount of recyclable waste collected in the community. Besides guiding improved management of the facility, Finca Rosa Blanca, with Patrullas Ecologicas will initiate a community wide campaign to teach and encourage Santa Barbara residents to separate wastes and bring them to the recycling center.

It increases social and financial sustainability by teaching the value of active participation in ones well being.

The project aims to increase the social cohesion among the aforementioned community groups by switching the mentality of “living from a handout” to actively participating in one’s well being. Some of the clients of the food bank will be growing part of their food and others will be helping generate funds for the maintenance of the food bank, by ensuring proper and responsible management of the recycling center.
The additional money generated from the sale of recyclables is re-invested in the operation and maintenance of the food bank. Further, the produce for the food bank will enhance the nutritional value of the food served for the community without incrementing costs for the food bank.

It creates the opportunity for others to improve access and consumption of fresh produce

Lastly, Buy a Bag, Grow a Garden also aims to generate interest in hydroponic gardening as a method to improve access and consumption of fresh produce among other community members. Once the gardens have been set up and are functioning, Finca Rosa Blanca will offer, to those that are interested, the technical lessons so as to help individuals of the community set-up their own gardens.

Submitted by Teri Osman Jampol, owner of Finca Rosa Blanca Plantation

Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort – Proves Luxury and Sustainability go Hand in Hand in Costa Rica

October 2011, San José, Costa Rica – Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort, a luxury boutique hotel located in Manuel Antonio, has set a new high this week after being named Costa Rica’s first hotel with a perfect score of five-star luxury and five-leaf sustainability.

“It is an honor to received this new, five-star designation,” said Hans Pfister, CEO and principle of Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality, a company that manages a number of luxury ecolodges in Central America, including Arenas Del Mar. “If you pair this luxury rating with our perfect, five-leaf score under the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism, we are demonstrating that luxury and Earth consciousness can go hand-in-hand – and that it doesn’t have to be one at the expense of the other.”

In determining Arenas Del Mar’s five-star rating, inspectors noted that they were impressed at how the hotel blends seamlessly into the rainforest and beachfront setting, not disturbing the nature and wildlife – something that’s been an objective for the hotel since the planning and construction phase.

“Since the start, we imagined Arenas Del Mar to be the perfect blend of sustainability and luxury. Today, I’m pleased to say that we’ve finally turned that dream into a reality,” said Pfister. “and because Costa Rica is already a country that leads the way in terms of sustainable and eco-tourism, earning this top distinction was no easy feat – and, ultimately, is made all the more sweet.”

As Manuel Antonio’s only luxury beachfront property, some benefits of Arenas Del Mar include spacious, air-conditioned guestrooms with private decks, hot tubs and sweeping ocean views; two gourmet restaurants that combine fresh Costa Rican cuisine with a wild rainforest and ocean backdrop; a full-service spa that specializes in massages, facials, wraps and more; and a range of available guided wilderness activities, ranging from early-morning bird watching tours and late-night rainforest treks to sunset catamaran voyages and adventurous whitewater rafting. Arenas Del Mar also offers direct access and tours of the lush and animal-rich Manuel Antonio National Park.

Sustainable highlights for Arenas Del Mar include limiting building mass to just 25 per cent of the total property, using solar panels to heat hot water, tiling roofs with recycled bags once used in banana plantations, using sustainable and Earth-friendly products in the hotel’s Las Brisas Spa, growing thousands of native trees and endemic plants and offering sustainability tours that, amongst other things, allow guests to try their hands at tortilla-making.

Of Costa Rica’s five-leaf rated hotels, four of the total 15 fall under the Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality umbrella: Arenas Del Mar, Lapa Rios Ecolodge, Harmony Hotel and Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn.

Learn more here: Arenas Del Mar Beach and Nature Resort. For more information please contact Hans Pfister at hans@cayugaonline.com.

Small Hotel of the Year goes to Table Rock Jungle Lodge in Belize

BTB Honors Key Pioneers at its 11th Annual Tourism Awards Ceremony

Belize City, Belize – June 8th, 2011 — The evening of Wednesday, June 8th, 2011, was witness to the spectacular as the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), with a gathering of distinguished guests such as the Prime Minister of Belize, Honorable Dean Barrow; the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr.; and a host of tourism stakeholders, took the time to honor the Belize Tourism Industry’s top performers and leaders at the 11th Annual Tourism Awards Ceremony.

The Tourism Awards Ceremony recognizes and honors those organizations, industry partners, and individuals who have all made outstanding contributions to the industry. These awardees are those who have taken the time to mold Belize’s natural tourism product into outstanding experiences that serves to draw millions to our shores.

Table Rock Jungle Lodge, located on the Macal River in the Cayo District, was awarded this year’s prestigious Small Hotel of the Year Award. This category recognizes a licensed hotel with 20 rooms or less that captures the true essence of local hospitality at its very best, represents cultural and/or natural heritage authenticity, and achieves consistent customer service excellence across the board. The bulk of Belize’s 700 hotels fall into the Small Hotel category.

In addition to being selected Belize’s Small Hotel of the Year, Table Rock Jungle Lodge has also been honored with receiving this year’s Belize Green Business Award, 2011 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, and 2010 Travelers’ Choice Award (Trip Advisor).
For more information about this lodge: Table Rock Jungle Lodge

About Belize
As one of the last unspoiled places on earth, Belize offers travelers the richly rewarding authenticity they seek in a Caribbean getaway. With direct flights from the U.S. and Canada, this tropical paradise is nestled between Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south. For generations, the English-speaking people of Belize have demonstrated a commitment to preserving the country’s unique charms. Belize offers a land rich in natural beauty and steeped in the history and culture of its Maya past. Renowned for having the second largest barrier reef in the world, Belize’s pristine waters, exotic marine and wildlife, lush unspoiled landscapes and superb diving truly make it Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret. For more information on how you can Be One With Belize, visit www.travelbelize.org.

See video and photos of Belize’s 11th Annual Tourism Awards here:

http://www.ambergristoday.com/content/stories/2011/june/09/san-pedro-receives-top-honors-tourism-awards
http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/55772
http://www.sanpedrosun.com/news/btb-honors-pioneers-at-11th-annual-tourism-awards/
http://www.guardian.bz/all-politics/3367-11th-annual-tourism-awards-ceremony

Whether you’re looking for Caribbean extend stays or Antigua vacation hotels from sandals, let Eco-Tropical help!

Table Rock Wins Green Business Competition

The University of Belize (UB) in partnership with the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), and the Belize Hotel Association (BHA) has announced Table Rock Jungle Lodge as the winner of Belize’s 2011 Green Business Award!
The Faculty of Science and Technology (FS&T) of UB conducted the Green Business Competition. All Belizean businesses, such as banks, media houses, hotels, agro-industries, field stations, etc. were encouraged to apply for the award.

Table Rock Jungle Lodge was recognized as a leader in the use or promotion of green practices and technologies, as well as for its sustainable and responsible practices for the benefit of the environment, the people of Belize, and the overall development that contributes to the conservation of our natural resources.

Lecturer in the Faculty of Science and Technology, Mr. Eden Garcia, says that “UB envisions that this Green Business Competition will act as a powerful catalyst to sensitize businesses about the importance of being environmentally friendly and to inspire other businesses to take the initiative in adopting new practices that can make them future leaders as Green Businesses in Belize.”
Table Rock thanks the outstanding work of our dedicated staff in helping us achieve this great honor. We will continue our efforts to reduce our footprint in this beautiful land and to improve our eco-friendly practices in the coming years.

Cayuga Hospitality Discounts During Green Season

April 14th 2011, San José, Costa Rica – Budget-minded and adventure-seeking travellers who don’t mind a little rain are clicking their gumboot heels this month as a collection of award winning Central American ecolodges prepare to launch into “Green Season”.

The nickname comes from the increase in precipitation that Central America experiences from May through October – while regional rainforests return to their signature lush, green color, visitors benefit by getting to keep a few more greenbacks in their wallets.

During Green Season, discounted rates and packages can be had at any of the six Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality-managed resorts, hotels and ecolodges in Costa Rica or Nicaragua: Latitued 10 Resort , Lapa Rios Ecolodge, Finca Rosa Blanca Plantation, Arenas Del Mar Beach and Nature Resort, The Harmony Hotel and Jicaro Island Ecolodge. The high-end hotels, known around the world for their uber-sustainable and Earth-saving ways, are perfect for that dream family vacation and offer a number of kid-friendly activities, like white water rafting, nature hikes, zip lining adventures and snorkelling escapades.

“It’s a great time to visit Central America: temperatures remain high and it hardly ever rains the whole day through. Plus, there’s great surfing, outrageous wildlife-viewing opportunities and fewer guests at the resorts,” said Hans Pfister, CEO and principle of Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality. “And with summer vacation right around the corner, now’s the time for families to take advantage of these great Green Season rates. For the same price, where would you rather take your kids: Costa Rica or Disneyland?”

As an added bonus during Green Season, Costa Rica’s domestic airline, Nature Air, is offering free round trip tickets for two children accompanying two adults on flights within the country from May 1 through Dec. 15, 2011 (restrictions may apply).

Discounted hotel rates are in effect at each of the sustainable hotels from May 1 through Oct. 31, 2011. In addition, a number of other special promos are available to make the family vacation just a little bit easier on the wallet:

• Stay for five nights and pay for only four: this enticing offer is available from April 25 through Aug. 25, 2011 at Latitude 10 Beach Resort, Lapa Rios Ecolodge and The Harmony Hotel; and from April 25 through June. 30, 2011 at Arenas Del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort.

• Stay for three nights and pay for only two: this offer is available from April 25 through Aug. 25, 2011 at Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn and Jicaro Island Ecolodge; and from Aug. 26 though Nov. 20, 2011 at Latitude 10 Beach Resort, Lapa Rios Ecolodge, Arenas Del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort and The Harmony Hotel.

• Stay for two nights and pay for only one: from Aug. 26 through Nov. 20, 2011, stay at Jicaro Island Ecolodge or Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn and take advantage of this whale of a deal.

• Kids stay and eat for free: looking for an eye-opening family vay-cay? This offer is available June 15 through Sept. 15, 2011 at Lapa Rios Ecolodge, Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn, Arenas Del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort and The Harmony Hotel.

For more information please contact Hans Pfister at hans@cayugaonline.com.

Wildlife Corridors – Path of the Tapir

Waterfall Villas joins ASANA in efforts to save the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor – Costa Rica
Sighting a Tapir is a barometer for success in conservation efforts; like jaguar and parrots, these are rare migratory animals. In the rainforest of Costa Rica, the tapir is one of the animals that symbolize the vibrancy of the rainforest, because only when the forest is in its primordial essence, pristine and flourishing do these animals suddenly reappear.

The Path of the Tapir extends from the Osa peninsula in the south pacific of Costa Rica all the way to Manuel Antonio National Park passing through the Baru rainforest, and into the mountains of Tinamaste where the ridge is so vertically steep that virgin forest is still intact.

Here the largest waterfalls of Costa Rica are shrouded by a thick emerald green gallery. Amongst this rainforest in the heart of the Baru rainforest, Cascadas Farallas Waterfalls are protected in a private reserve set up by the Waterfall Villas to preserve the waterfalls and their unique habitat for wildlife. The Waterfall Villas reserve is right on the Path of the Tapir, an official certified biological corridor. The Waterfall Villas is an eco-retreat commited to rainforest preservation. Cascadas Farallas Waterfall Villas

“The path of the Tapir Biological Corridor represents one of the last remaining wild areas in Costa Rica, and as such enjoys an incredible diversity of flora, fauna, habitats, and ecological processes.”
Richard Margoluis, president ASANA

Along the Path of the Tapir, there are a scattering of private reserves, 5 National Parks, and various critical biological areas under threat: the Corcovado National Park, Terraba-Sierpe National Wetlands, Talamanca Mountain Range (where the only indigenous Costa Rican tribes still live), Los Quetzales National Park, the Marine Ballena National Park, and the Manuel Antonio National Park.

Conservationists have found that although these magnificent parks in Costa Rica are saving animal populations, the migratory animals need to venture outside of the protected areas to mate, feed, and breed. Healthy populations of animals in the parks require that the gene pool is wider than a small protected area.

The importance of maintaining the health of a biological corridor stems from the phenomena of the dead zoo – this happens when protected areas are located on a peninsula /or isolated areas surrounded by development and the gene pool is so small that animals eventually decline because of poor health. When the gene pool cannot be enhanced by natural migrations and is limited, then it has been required for new animals to be brought in manually to keep the animal populations healthy (as in Manuel Antonio). This new realization about sustaining natural selection in animal populations has conservation groups focused on protecting the biological corridors – natural migration paths that are connections between protected areas.

This conservation effort in Costa Rica has been lead by a group called ASANA (An acronym for Friends of Nature in Spanish). Unfortunately, the group was quite fragmented for some years, although they managed to start the protection process. Recently, a professional world class conservationist started to lead the group as president, Richard Margoluis. This is quite fortunate as the conservation efforts are very challenging, and he has major projects underway.

The Waterfall Villas and the Cascadas Farallas Waterfall Reserve, owned by Fateh and Franco Bolivar, is dedicated to preservation of this Biological Corridor – the Path of the Tapir. The Waterfall Villas is now the conservation group’s first corporate sponsor member.

In the last 10 years, an amazing comeback has been observed and many birds (over 400 species) including Macaws, and many other rare mammals (146 species) can be found well beyond the confines of the parks – throughout the corridor. But unfortunately, that seems to be a short lived success story as the greed and demand of more powerful entities is looming close.

Time -critical Threat to the Rainforest!
Exceptionally high demand arising from the USA for electric power has the Costa Rican monopoly electric company, ICE, envisioning $$ signs in their eyes! ICE defined a very ambitious project to create three major dams scheduled to flood vast rain forested areas, and this will impact particularly important and fragile areas in the most sensitive area of the Terraba River near Ojochal and Sierpe in the OSA, effecting the wetlands and the indigenous way of life of the Indigenous peoples. ICE’s plan will include dumping hot water used in the electric process into the wetlands. These wetlands stretch out to the main breeding grounds of the humpback whales who come to the National Marine park in the hundreds every year between July – Oct.

The most insidious part of ICE’s project is to dedicate in place 4 high voltage power lines with high electro magnetic fields upon a few hundred towers right through parts of the Path of the Tapir right into the rainforest canopy and stretch these beyond Manuel Antonio to Parrita where the electric power will then be routed into already existing lines all the way to Mexico on route to the USA – the power’s final destination for consumption. There in the USA, an unknowing population with a high demand for power is about to alter the most precious gem of rare and diverse rainforest on the planet.

The diagram shows the areas that are in the Path of the Tapir ( Paso de la Danta in Spanish)

The Waterfall Villas is in the bright blue area near Dominical right in the Path of the Tapir – although not directly effected in the ICE project, the entire area will eventually decline. All of these areas that are not directly in the parks will be effected by this high voltage electric power – unless ASANA’s members and friends can raise enough funds to hire lawyers to fight this giant corporation ICE in Costa Rica, to mitigate this threat . These planned power lines can be moved over to the grey area on the map outside of the migratory path and the populated areas to circumvent a tragedy to the Costa Rican rainforest. In the grey area no conservation dangers exist. However, this would cost about $50 million more to ICE so as to not damage the most fragile rainforest. This is the cost that has been put on the preservation of the most incredible biodiverse corridor in the world.

The new website of ASANA will be released in April, and will have a place where you can donate to this well worth cause to save rare animals and indigenous peoples through the already established International Community Foundation (ICF) acting as the fiscal agent in the US with the “Friends of ASANA” fund. In the USA, this donation is tax deductable because of the ICF’s 501(c)3 status to receive donations.

If you are a friend of the rainforest, please do what you can to help ASANA in this effort to keep the great strides of the last 10 years continuing so that the rain forests of this area will be completely resorted to their former splendor for future generations and not destroyed by corporate giants.
For more information about Cascadas Farallas Waterfall Villas: Cascada Farallas Waterfall Villas

Mambo View Point in Tanzania working to help village acquire water pumps

The situation of the drinking water supply in Ward (community) Sunga is worrisome. Until recently only one pump out of 27 was working. Recently 9 pumps were replaced by the government but this is still way too few to fulfil the needs, so many people have to walk far for their water every day. Also many people are tapping water from open sources like small brooks or holes dug in the ground.
According to the international standards where 250 people can live from one water pump, there should be about 90 pumps, this is 10 times more then available at the moment.
Project
This project includes the establishment of the necessary pumps and water filters, initially for Ward Sunga, but potentially for a wider area where the problems are very much the same.

Idea
The idea is to provide robust pumps which can last more than 30 years. To make the project sustainable, not only the provision and installation is considered but also the utilization and maintenance.

At present water is fetched from unsafe sources.

For the maintenance it is necessary to establish a company that will install and service the pumps. Every community that wants to have a pump has to appoint a manager who is responsible for the pump and will have income from selling the water and other related items like water filters and filtered water. Every family has to pay $ 10 to $ 15 per year for the maintenance. If the money is not paid the pump will be removed again.
This model is promoted by Fairwater and proved to be sustainable in various situations.

Budget
Every pump is about € 2.500 ($ 3,250) including transport. The pumps are paid by the supporters of fairwater and MamboViewPoint. In many cases these supporters are companies who like to sponsor a pump. Often they want to know where the pumps are placed and like to visit the place themselves.
MamboViewPoint eco lodge is a perfect place to meet these desires.
The installation including the concrete foundation has to be paid by the communities and will have a yearly cost for maintenance of about $ 300. One pump will be used by about 150 people (30 families). This means a contribution of $ 10 a family will be required.

The robust blue pump from Fairwater has to bring a sustainable water supply.

To place new pumps on places without boreholes (in most cases), the boreholes have to be drilled. Funding the necessary € 10.000,- ($ 13,000) for the drill still has to be done.
Together with the pumps, small water filters will be introduced to be used with one or 2 buckets. The idea is to sell those filters and to buy new ones from the profits. One filter will be some dollars. The selling points can sell filtered water and the filters.
For the first purchase of the filters funding organisations will be approached.

Contribution
Financial contributions for this project are most welcome on our bank account:
Account number 390450030 (Triodosbank Netherlands)
Stichting MamboSteunpunt Burgtstraat 3, 6701 DA Wageningen
SWIFT code:TRIONL2U,
IBAN: NL45 TRIO 0390 4500 30

Contributions are tax-deductible from the Dutch tax.
For more information go to:
Mambo View Point

HISTORY OF DEVELOPING LOCAL RECYCLING CENTER

In January 2005 the Black Sheep Inn invited the Mayor of Sigchos and the local town council to a meeting.  One of the agenda items was to determine if the Mayor would be willing to send the county garbage truck to Chugchilán twice a month.  The Mayor frankly said “NO!”   He said that we needed a location for a landfill.   
But he also set into motion the idea of purchasing land so that Chugchilán could manage and reuse their waste.  This process was slow, as the community had to shop for several properties and convince people that they were NOT making a traditional garbage dump, but rather a space for separating and processing waste.  

 

After selecting the final site, the Mayor did not have enough funding to purchase the land, so both the Black Sheep Inn and the Italian Missionary Mato Grosso group pitched in.

 

Up until then the village plaza had been swept on Monday’s after the weekly market and trash was conveniently thrown into a small canyon in front of the school.  Now the garbage is being collected in four recycling stations in the plaza separating organic and inorganic waste.   The classified garbage is brought to the new recycling center property.   

 

Black Sheep Inn built a small adobe building on the property for storing recyclables: hard and soft plastics, scrap metal and cans, cardboard, glass etc.  50% of the village waste is organic which is being composted and non-recyclables are placed in a small landfill.   The recycling center was partly funded by the Black Sheep Inn winning the ECOCLUB.com Ecotourism Awards 2006.

 

The recycling center is made out of handmade/sun-dried adobe blocks and the windows, door and roof structure was salvaged from an old market building that had been torn down in Chugchilán’s plaza, in order to make room for a new ‘park’.  Therefore the center itself is built out of natural and recycled materials.  Organic compost has been used to fertilize the new park.

HISTORY OF DEVELOPING NATIVE TREE NURSERY
Native-Tree Nursery Using Plastic Garbage

(this project also received funding by winning EcoClub’s International Ecotourism Competition 2008) 

Black Sheep Inn is spearheading the creation of a native tree nursery in the high Andes using discarded plastic bottles and abundant organic fertilizer. 

 

Deforestation in this part of the Andes started over a thousand years ago with the Incas.  The high sierra landscape is now sparsely forested with non-natives of pine and eucalyptus.  Native trees are extremely beneficial as windbreaks, controlling erosion, improving soils, defining property boarders, attracting native wildlife, providing firewood and ultimately attracting more rain!   

 

This project is relatively simple using organic fertilizer, discarded plastic drinking bottles and a large public property to grow native tree seedlings and distribute them throughout the community.  Part of the property needs to be fenced, a roof-water collector and water storage tank will be installed on a small building which is up hill from the proposed tree nursery, a composting toilet will be built to further produce fertilizer for the trees: basic supplies will be purchased for growing trees and current village employees will be trained on nursery maintenance. 

 

Currently, village waste is separated into organic and inorganic (a large quantity of non-recyclable plastic bottles are collected) and transported to a one hectare property for processing outside Chugchilán.  This project will use the abundant organic fertilizer and large amount of plastic drinking bottles to start the native tree nursery.   

 

Black Sheep Inn planted hundreds of native trees on its property over 10 years ago.  There are now mature trees that are producing seed-stock and branches that can be cut for strikes (many of the native Andean trees can be propagated by putting cuttings carefully into fertile soil).  Species at the Black Sheep Inn include: Capuli (Prunus serotina), Quishuar (Buddleia incana), Yagual (Polylepes Incana), Racemosa (Polylepis Racemosa), as well as Alder (Aliso), Acacia (Mimosoideae) and Broom (Retama). 

 

This project will be completed with collaborations from local town council, Mayor, tourists, Peace Corp Volunteers and Italian Missionaries.  All of these parties have a history of working together successfully. 

Collaborations and Donations:

Italian Mission has offered to install a water connection on the property and provide sawdust.  Laura Schreeg, an ex-US Peace Corp volunteer, has built four native tree nurseries in the high Andean sierra; she is enthusiastic to advise locals on native tree propagation.  She is in regular contact with the Black Sheep Inn via the internet.  There is a current US Peace Corp agricultural volunteer in Chugchilán who is enthused about this project and will give hands-on technical advice and instruction on how to grow seedlings.  The local Mayor has a tree nursery established on the solid waste disposal site of Sigchos and will be able to share valuable expertise. There are an excess of plastic drink bottles available from the village that can be used for seedling containers.  Black Sheep Inn has mature native-trees that can be used for both seed-stock and strikes.  Black Sheep Inn also has technical experience for installing composting toilet and roof-water collecting system.  Lechero fence posts can be cut from the Black Sheep Inn’s property and planted at the native tree nursery site.   

 

Economic Investment:

Wire fencing, transportation, shade cloth, nursery enclosures, water tanks, roof gutters, wood, composting toilet barrels, metal meshing, cement, cinder-blocks, and seeds.  The village worker has a budget for working 3 days per week yet currently only works 2 days per week. 

 

Michelle Kirby & Andres Hammerman
Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador
http://www.blacksheepinn.com 

Top 50 Eco-Lodges – National Geographic Adventure Magazine 2009
Winner, ECOCLUB.com Ecotourism Awards 2006 & 2008
Skål International Ecotourism Award 2006
Smithsonian Magazine/Tourism Cares for Tomorrow Sustainable Tourism Award 2005

A few words about Cozumel, Mexico

I spent last winter here (in Cozumel, Mexico) and I’m with the same folks in a nice apartment. I’ve been diving once and got to see my first Black Tip Shark here ever. They are common in the Caribbean and this is the time of year for them to migrate. I’ve seen them elsewhere, but there are so many divers here that sharks, except for Nurse Sharks, are uncommon.

Cozumel is, for unknown reasons, a major stop for all the cruise ship lines. Some days there are as many as nine cruise ships in all at once. The ‘Cruzeros’ walk aimlessly up and down the Esplanade getting sunburned and going from one T-Shirt Shop to the next Tanzanite Store. The International Diamond Exchange is now in its fourteenth consecutive year of a ‘Grand Opening’ and you can buy ‘authentic’ Cuban cigars. Actually there is a guy who goes to Cuba once a month and buys real Cuban cigars, but what do I know? They all smell like burning tires to me.

If you walk a couple of blocks off the Esplanade into town you’ll find the typical Mexican town of San Miguel. The cruise ships actually tell people not to go more than two blocks off the Esplanade because ‘it’s dangerous!’ The fact is they have an agreement with the T-Shirt Shops and Tanzanite Stores to keep people in close. About two blocks in the prices drop in half. The most dangerous thing by far for tourists is the rental of motor-scooters; that accounts for the majority of injuries here.

Cozumel is generally considered the best dive location in the Caribbean, and that is good and bad. Since it is the best, it tends to be pretty busy all year round. But the diving is outrageous and I love the town, the food, and the people. I’ll probably end up living here in a few years when I get tired of traveling all the time.

With permission from a personal email received from Steve Bissell.

Amazon Yarapa River Lodge in Peru

The Amazon Yarapa River lodge begins 2008 with great expectations and continued growth. …

Our biggest news is that we have significantly increased the size of the Yarapa River Reserve by approximately 15 more miles.  This involved us purchasing the land from the Peruvian Government and then giving it to the villagers to manage in agreement with a conservation contract signed by all parties!  The individual villages, energized with pride in regaining land in their name, now actively protect their property. Since the land exchange, several villages have seized illegal shipments of logs and have contacted government authorities to stop the loggers.  We believe this is a gigantic step for the indigenous people, their land, and the environment.  We are proud of the continued success of the reserve in 2007 and look forward to further expansion in 2008.

Our laboratory director, Dr. Eloy Rodriguez, continues to promote the Cornell University Esbaran field lab as a wonderful facility for high school field trips to major university research projects. We have had several university students visit throughout the year to work on a research project.

We have always been and will remain a top notch destination for your guests.  We have remained the #1 lodge in the area on tripadvisor.com.  Furthermore, we continue to get outstanding reviews in all the top guidebooks.  Lastly, we have either won or have been nominated four years in a row as the “Best Resort in Peru” by the World Travel Awards. 

We feel that 2008 will be a great year for us!  
Yours truly,
Charles Mango
Owner, Amazon Yarapa River Lodge
www.yarapa.com
info@yarapa.com