Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Staff Voice: Forestry with the Rangers

Written by – David Aparici, Field Staff Member

During the last week of August, some of the staff members of the Jalova expedition together with the Rangers of Tortuguero National Park had the honor to participate in a plant taxonomy and forestry course organized by the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment (MINAE). This course lasted 2 days and helped us to improve our relationship with the rangers and MINAE. It was a very interesting course which focused mostly on forest plant identification. The course combined the theory and the practical aspects of taxonomy in a very dynamic way. We shared a lot of experiences with the rangers and MINAE. One of the aspects that fascinated us the most, was the vast practical knowledge that the rangers have. Most of them knew the majority of the tree species around the area by their common name, whether it would produce edible fruits, etc.

During the course, we learnt the important parts of the trees, starting with the leaves, their position and if they are complex or simple. Already with this little information you can discard a lot of families which makes the identification of the target species much easier. Then it comes to special features of the tree (or its leaves) like the nectarium, which is a small cup found in some foliage in some trees. This tiny part of the tree has a very important function since it produces chemicals that atracts insects which can facilitate the pollination. Beyond the practical information that we learnt in the course, this was an excellent opportunity to form a stronger relationship with our partners.

Jalova staff members with the local rangers on the successful completion of the MINAE plant identification course