GAINESVILLE, FL, July 15, 2016 – Ecotourism leader Holbrook Travel has opened enrollment for its Costa Rica Birding Symposium: Birding and Avian Conservation for Costa Rica and Beyond. The five-day program runs January 5-January 9, 2017, and includes expert-led field trips plus presentations on programs such as the Great Green Macaw Research and Conservation Project and National Audubon’s International Alliances Program. While geared to birding leaders and birders, the symposium is open to any traveler interested in conservation.
The symposium takes place at the Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve in Sarapiquí, located amid 500 acres of primary and secondary forest in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica, a major flyway where more than 900 important bird species have been recorded.
“Selva Verde is already one of Costa Rica’s most well-regarded birding destinations,” says Andrea Holbrook, CEO & President of Holbrook Travel. “More than 360 bird species have been sighted here, so of course participants can look forward to some excellent birdwatching. But what makes this symposium especially appealing is its focus on conservation.”
The program will include multiple field trips to observe birds in their natural habitat; a visit to the world-renowned Organization for Tropical Studies La Selva Biological Station; and workshops and presentations on tropical ecology, conservation and sustainable development, as well as allowing for time in the field. According to Holbrook, “Deforestation continues to be a major threat to the region’s biodiversity, which is why Selva Verde is a part of the local committee of the Sarapiquí Biological Corridor, part of a larger initiative known as the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Our guests will learn about this important effort to create forested pathways between preserves in order to aid wildlife migration and preserve important breeding grounds and habitats.”
One of the most endangered species to benefit from the corridor effort is the Great Green Macaw. This majestic bird depends almost entirely on the native almendro or almond tree for its survival, but almendro is also prized by the logging industry for its very hard, high-demand luxury wood. As for the macaws, “The tree provides roughly 90 percent of their food resource and 80 percent of their nesting needs,” says Guiselle Monge, co-Director (along with husband Olivier Chassot)of the Great Green Macaw Research and Conservation Project. Launched in the mid-1990s, this project saved the Great Green Macaws from the brink of destruction, but challenges still remain.
These will be the subject of a keynote address on Day 4 of the symposium. “We are also excited to share the work of the Tropical Science Center in the Sarapiquí Corridor, which reflects over ten years of the hard sog of true conservation work which is part research and science, part building community with diverse stakeholders from the public and private sector, and a large part of working with local people – farmers, teachers, students,” says Andrea Holbrook.
During included field trips, birders can seek out the Great Green Macaws with their lime green plumage, red crests and blue-tipped wings. They may also sight many of the lodge’s 360 recorded bird species such as Keel-billed Toucans, Wood Thrushes, Grey-necked Wood-Rails, Sunbitterns and Violet-crowned Woodnymphs. Among the 330 tree species that thrive in the rainforests surrounding Selva Verde are many healthy almendro trees, including a national treasure: a 600-year-old specimen that is 177 feet high and 46 feet in circumference. “This special tree was already mature when the Spanish arrived here in the 1400s, and we expect to have it for another 100 to 200 years,” says Andrea Holbrook, adding, “But I still say you should come and see it now!”
Holbrook Travel has been enriching lives through travel since 1974. The Holbrook story began when founder Giovanna Holbrook led a group of academics and naturalists to the Galápagos Islands. Building on its expertise in natural history, the company continued to provide affordable educational programs for groups and individuals around the world. In 1982, during an ornithological field study in Costa Rica, Giovanna learned of a 500-acre tract of old growth forest that was destined for the chainsaw. She purchased the land and renovated its old house to become the Selva Verde Rainforest Lodge & Reserve. Today Selva Verde is a world renowned eco-lodge committed to advancing the practice of sustainable tourism—a practice that guides all of Holbrook’s trips in Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Pacific and beyond. In addition to signature birdwatching tours, Holbrook offers unique itineraries based on natural history, gardening, photography, culture, and other special interests.
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