Conservation bonds EARTH alum to home country

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: November 20th, 2019
Picture of a man inside building

Robert Puschendorf (Photo: Plymouth University)

Living in northwestern England with his family, Robert Puschendorf (’98, Costa Rica) works as a lecturer and coordinator of the biological conservation program at Plymouth University. He credits EARTH University with cultivating his deep interest in biology and thus connecting him to the discipline that would guide his career and life’s research.

After his graduation from EARTH, Robert earned a master’s degree in zoology at the University of Costa Rica, a doctorate at James Cook University in Australia, and post-doctoral fellowship at the Australian Research Council. Upon completing his studies, he embarked on a professorship in England that allowed him to stay connected to Costa Rica. He conducts research in the Guanacaste Conservation Area (ACG), in collaboration with the Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund.

Measuring 163,000 hectares, the treasured conservation area in northwestern Costa Rica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to a staggering 2.6% of the world’s biodiversity, the area includes four ecosystems: rainforest, cloud forest, dry forest and marine/coastal forest.

Picture of a waterfall, trees and rocks.

Waterfall at the Guanacaste Conservation Area (Photo: Guanacaste Conservation Area)

The conservation of such a place is possible thanks to local, national and international support. It is here where Robert, together with the Fund, contributes to the protection, development and sustainability of the ACG, a legal designation that supports the area’s administration.

A technical adviser to the Fund, Robert researches and consults about conservation as well as contributes to decision-making. “All my research projects are developed in the ACG and are a strong component of the work that is done in this area,” he explains.

Due to his busy teaching schedule, Robert can be in Costa Rica only one month per year. He self-describes as a “parachuting researcher” because he drops in quickly and gets straight to work. Within the Fund, he also acts as a connector between national and international entities to achieve result-rich synergy.

To Robert, the ACG is as a fascinating and diverse natural system, and the team behind it is incredible. “The most rewarding part is interacting with the ACG staff who actively support the research and use the work we do as researchers to manage the protected area,” he says.

For this alum, the pursuit of knowledge inspired by EARTH has been significant in many ways: experience, contacts and, above all, strong ethics in the development of his work.