Richland Center - Santa Teresa Sister City Project
Chacocente Wildlife Refuge protects Nicaragua’s largest remaining area of the tropical dry forest, which once covered the Pacific slope of Central America, from Mexico through Costa Rica. Only 5% of this original ecosystem is left. During the dry season, December to May, two-thirds of the trees in this deciduous forest shed their leaves, which grow again when the rains begin.
Interactive environmental workshops are given regularly in the five Chacocente elementary schools. SCP coordinator Alma Susana Chávez and MARENA rangers work together on this, with a new theme each year. Besides the sea turtles, they have focused on such themes as: our earth, a clean Chacocente, and recycling plastics. SCP participates in Santa Teresa’s Earth Day celebration.
Clean-up and Recycling
SCP coordinator Alma Susana Chávez has led a campaign to clean up Chacocente’s environment. Trash cans have been placed by Chacocente schools. Discarded plastic bags are collected to be used for materials in a women’s project that creates crocheted purses and other handicrafts from strips of the washed bags. Alma heads this Fauna and Flora International initiative. See a video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fWG7Zg0Ul4
SCP participates in the local Chacocente conservation alliance, the “Committee for the Protection, Conservation, Collaboration and Care for Chacocente.” This committee, with a strong villagers’ presence as well as NGO and government members, plays an active part in the management of the refuge.
Migratory Bird Project
The Wood Thrush pictured on the right is one of many bird species that nest in the US but winter in Nicaragua or pass through in migration. In 2017, SCP helped to start a Monitoring Overwinter Survival (MoSI) station in the reserve, now led by a Nicaraguan bird bander who trains apprentices from the Chacocente villages. The SCP bird project offers bird education to the village school kids, providing binoculars, bird classes, and bird walks, generating lots of enthusiasm for local birds.
The dry forest is subject to the threat of wildfires. In 2014 SCP received a grant to provide new equipment for the Chacocente community volunteer fire brigade. The volunteers are proud that there has not been a major fire in the last five years.