A biological corridor is a swath of land set aside to provide wildlife with safe passage between discrete conservation areas. Such corridors allow for the flow of species between diverse ecosystems, thereby boosting biodiversity, enabling crucial ecological and evolutionary processes, protecting natural resources, and involving nearby communities.In 2018, EARTH University, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), the Tortuguero Conservation Area, the Municipality of Guacimo, the production sector, and community members successfully lobbied for the Parismina Biological Corridor – nicknamed Ruta del Pez Bobo (Route of the Bobo Fish) – to be approved and recognized by SINAC, Costa Rica’s national conservation and parks department.
Measuring more than 32,000 hectares, this new biological corridor serves as a bridge between two large conservation areas: the Colorado-Tortuguero (internationally prized for its biodiversity) and Acuíferos (the primary water-producing area for nearby communities).
The corridor’s nickname arose from a technical survey that had determined the importance of the bobo fish – a culturally valued species that contributes greatly to the ecosystem. The biological corridor and its rich riverways will enormously benefit this fish and its migration, as well as other species such as the jaguar, tapir and macaw.
In addition to including its Escalera de Mono (an expansive nature reserve on the University’s Guacimo campus) in the corridor, EARTH has been providing consulting services to governmental agencies and local community groups. “We are one of the principal institutional promoters of this natural space because of its great benefits to the environment and communities,” says Javier Fallas (’08, Costa Rica), program coordinator at EARTH Futures.
EARTH’s leadership within the project has mobilized other organizations to get involved as technical and financial contributors. For example, CRUSA (The Costa Rica–USA Foundation for Cooperation) has played an essential role. Through its expertise in implementing sustainably impactful solutions, CRUSA’s partnership with the University has enabled comprehensive execution of the corridor’s strategy.
EARTH Futures is a global platform that advances transformational-leadership education, the development of innovative solutions to socio-environmental problems, and strategic collaboration. Currently, three of its projects are focused on publicizing the benefits of the biological corridor and developing complementary impact plans with the local community.
1. Aula Azul Abierta (Open Blue Classroom) involves three entities that want to further the positive effects of the biological corridor.
2. Fortalecimiento del Liderazgo Comunal (Fortifying Municipal Leadership) is a campaign directed at young people from the community of Parismina. “The most beautiful part of these processes is that the youths build their own projects,” Fallas explains. “At EARTH Futures, we provide support in the form of methodological facilitation and guidance.” Already an environmental commission, the youth group regularly performs waste collections in the community.
3. Focused on value chains and supported by CRUSA, another project involves promoting a green economy alongside organizations including Coopebajura – a collection of 20 beef and dairy producers. “We have made significant strides with them toward getting the environmental efforts to translate into business opportunities,” Fallas says. As part of these efforts, the University has provided corporate social responsibility consulting to area businesses. For example, the project has spearheaded meetings between Hacienda Ojo de Agua (a pineapple-producing company) and local residents to communicate community needs and jointly pursue tools for socioeconomic growth.
Leadership educationMonths ago, EARTH and ICE formed a partnership to inspire the children of the biological corridor’s communities. During in-school workshops about solid waste, water and biodiversity, practical and experiential learning opportunities are emphasized. Around 170 kids participated in the Festival del Agua y Río (Water and River Festival), singing and playing while learning about ecological subjects. Sixteen EARTH students helped lead the activities.
For the University, the Parismina Biological Corridor is a successful project thanks to vibrant interinstitutional collaboration, full-hearted community participation, and a tireless quest for development opportunities in harmony with nature.
To learn more about EARTH Futures and its innovative projects, please visit www.earthfutures.earth.