Costa Rica Climate Change N.G.O Internship

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1. In Brief

Set between its tropical Caribbean and Pacific coasts, Costa Rica is one of the most breath-taking countries in the world. Even though it covers just 0.03% of the world’s landmass, it is home to an incredible 500,000 species including jaguars, spider monkeys and five types of turtle. This is the highest density of species of any country in the world.

Frontier interns are carrying out groundbreaking survey work, exploring Costa Rica's remote habitats and helping to combat the effects of global warming by establishing a baseline against which future protected area management can be assessed.  On this project you will live in a wilderness camp set in dense tropical forest on the shores of the Pacific Ocean next to pristine turtle beaches.

You'll live and work with other enthusiastic and energetic staff, interns and volunteers at a basic research camp near some of Costa Rica's most impressive protected areas. You'll carry out crucial surveys that are being used to find out how climate change is affecting endangered species and threatened habitats. Jaguars, sloths, Howler Monkeys and Harpy Eagles are just a fraction of the species here that are under threat; it is your job to help find out how to best protect these species and preserve their environment whilst gaining experience towards a career in conservation.

Join this incredible project to discover a world of fragile beauty and help safeguard Costa Rica's precious wildlife and exceptional habitats for future generations.

      

    

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

  • Work alongside and shadow experienced field staff;
  • Help to preserve Costa Rica's abundant and unique biodiversity ;
  • Extend your field work experience in the wildlife conservation sector in this global biodiversity hotspot

PROJECT REQUIREMENTS

  • CV required
  • Relevant academic qualifications required
  • Proof of work experience
  • Minimum 2 month placement

FAST FACTS

 

Location Costa Rica
Activities Biodiversity surveys
Walking transects through rainforest
Patrolling beaches
Tracking big cats
Behavioural studies
Insect and amphibian collection
Transport Pick-up from Puerto Jimenez weekly on a Monday before 12:00pm. Pick-ups available at all other times for $40 
Accommodation

Frontier forest research station in communal eco-cabins

 

WHAT'S INCLUDED

 

Before you go

Pre-departure support & documentation
Travel & medical advice from dedicated personal travel adviser
Advice on visas & equipment
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt (UK)
UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training (extra cost applies)

In-country

Project orientation and training 
In-country emergency support
Basic food & accommodation
24-hour international HQ back-up

 

QUALIFICATIONS

A variety of qualifications are available on many of our projects. For example, BTEC certificates and diplomas on our Group conservation projects and TEFL certificates and BTECs on most of our teaching projects. You may also be able to gain a CoPE to support your university application. For more information on these qualifications, please see the qualifications section of our website or ask your volunteer advisor.

2. The project

WHAT WILL I BE DOING?

You will be working in the Pacific rainforests and beaches near Corcovado, one of the most remote parks in Costa Rica. Home to one of the largest tropical primary lowland rainforests in the world, the Corcovado National Park is also the habitat of a large range of endangered plant and animal species. Dense rainforest creates a dramatic habitat for hundreds of bird and mammal species, along with a high population of marine turtles nesting on the beaches each year (please note there are no turtles at this site from December to April).

Work will include extensive baseline biodiversity surveys as well as walking primate transects to spot the White-faced Capuchin Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, Jeffries Spider Monkey and Mantled Howler Monkey which thrive in these biologically rich forests.  You will also be surveying populations of exotic birds, insects and amphibians, patrolling turtle nesting beaches (remember, there are no turtles in this region from December to April), or tracking big cats.

You will be working to compose complete species lists and to advance management plans for the primary rainforest and species found here. Components of the work programme include zoological work focused on observational methodologies such as:

Sea turtle monitoring

Volunteers patrol two beaches close to camp. The patrols not only help to gather valuable population data of the endangered marine turtles, but also serve to discourage poachers and predators trying to raid nests and collect eggs. The two species of turtle most frequently observed are the Olive Ridley and the Pacific Green Turtle. During peak nesting season (July-November), turtles found nesting on the beach at night are tagged and given a health check. In the afternoon we conduct nest cleanings which involve checking the hatched nests to assess reproductive success after the hatchlings have emerged. Total clutch size, number of successfully hatched eggs and the number and stage of development of un-hatched eggs are recorded. Any hatchlings that might have remained trapped in the next chamber are freed and placed on the beach to allow them to reach the sea.  

Primate (and other mammal) surveys

Mammals are social animals and frequently travel in pairs or groups. The most abundant mammal species found in the area are the four species of monkey: Squirrel Monkey, Mantled Howler Monkey, Jeffries Spider Monkey and White-faced Capuchin Monkey. A variety of other mammal species are commonly seen in the area and their presence is also recorded through the range of prints found on the muddy forest trails. Forest walks are regularly conducted during which all species are recorded to create a species list. When groups of mammals are encountered, group size is also noted as well as their behaviour.

Big cat monitoring

Pumas, jaguars and Ocelots are also present in the region. These species are elusive and sightings are rare however they can still be monitored by studying their tracks and faeces. Any signs are recorded in order to better understand the abundance and distribution of big cats in the area. This data is crucial in order to assess the effectiveness of conservation measures, and in particular whether the extent of wildlife corridors between protected areas is sufficient to ensure the long term survival of big cat populations in Costa Rica.

Tracks and scats

In addition to the surveys which use direct observations, we also record indirect evidence of mammals through the identification of tracks and scats. Frequently sighted prints include those of pumas, agoutis, peccaries, armadillos, coatis and the rare Neotropical river otter. These walks take place both along the forest trails and along the river. The GPS location, size and abundance of the tracks are recorded and this information can then be used to map the presence of many mammals which are elusive and thus rarely observed in the forest. This also contributes to our knowledge of the use of the area as a biological corridor for mammals with large ranges, such as pumas.

Forest amphibian surveys

Costa Rican amphibians are a diverse group and are amongst one of the most sensitive to climate change due to their use of small microhabitats and the porous nature of their skin. Declines have already been seen amongst amphibian groups due to reductions in pool sizes, shortened rain fall seasons and increased temperatures increasing bacterial growth and disease transmission. The sensitive nature of amphibians to altered climatic variables makes them an excellent indicator group for studying the effects of changing climates. The primary forest blocks where the Frontier camp is situated have a range of leaf litter frog species. As these groups lay their eggs in leaf litter, increasing decomposition rates due to increasing temperature can eliminate their breeding habitat to the point that reproduction of an entire population can be threatened. Our survey study aims to determine the species composition across an altitudinal gradient. In the long term, the effects of rising temperatures on forest amphibians could be assessed.

Point surveys for bird species

Bring your binoculars and set your alarm early and you can join in our bird surveys which take place at the lagoon on Pejeperro beach. Many of Costa Rica’s beautiful birds can be found here, as well as several migratory species. Frequently sighted are pink Roseate Spoonbills, several species of herons, egrets, scarlet macaws and, if you’re lucky, ospreys!

Bird counts are a commonly used method of identifying avian species composition in an area. A pilot study was recently initiated to carry out bird call counts along trails throughout the forest in order to get a better idea of species diversity and abundance. 

The long term goal of this project is to investigate and provide data for models of ecosystem migration and species displacement due to climate change and the subsequent implications of climate change upon Costa Rica's network of protected areas. The project addresses four important questions in order to safeguard the future of Costa Rica's economically and biologically important natural heritage:

  1. What effect is global warming having on the biodiversity within Costa Rica's system of protected areas?
  2. What future effect is global warming likely to have on the biodiversity within Costa Rica's system of protected areas?
  3. Is there adequate existing connectivity between habitat blocks within Costa Rica, and within the Mesoamerican hotspot as a whole, to allow ecosystem migration?
  4. What conservation efforts can and need to be put in place to ensure the continued existence, where possible, of the ecosystems which typify the natural habitats of Costa Rica?

3. What to expect

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I ARRIVE?

If you arrive on a Monday before 12:00pm, you will be greeted at Puerto Jimenez airport or bus station by a Frontier staff member and escorted by local bus to the project camp. If arriving after 12:00pm on a Monday or at any time on any other day, a pick-up can be arranged for an additional $40.

  

WHERE WILL I BE STAYING?

Life on camp is a unique experience! You will be staying in simple, shared, mixed-sex eco-cabins amidst the jungles near to Carate. This is a jungle research camp, so a mosquito net is an absolute must! We have tried to keep the camp in harmony with its pristine surroundings, so conditions are simple, but environmentally friendly and comfortable.

The camp is situated about 5 minutes walk from Playa Carate, a beach which stretches for over 20 miles all the way into Corcovado National Park. There are cool, refreshing showers and toilets on camp too. You’ll be feeling one with the jungle before you know it!

Check out our camp tour video!

Check out our video on Frontier Gap Year TV from Costa Rica, showing you volunteer life on the Osa Peninsula.

WHAT WILL I BE EATING?

We feel it is very important to support the local economy, so most of our supplies are sourced locally. This means we do not have access to everyone’s preferred foods and much of what we eat is seasonal and fresh. Costa Rican food is delicious, with a focus on rice, beans and good quality fruit and vegetables. 

Cooking and cleaning are carried out communally on a rotational basis, so everybody will be responsibility for meal preparation. You will have the opportunity to learn how to cook the national staple food, gallo pinto, consisting of fried rice and black beans. Another dish that is simple to prepare with local ingredients and is often eaten on camp is light and crispy tortillas stuffed with refried beans and vegetables.

There are no refrigeration facilities for meat, fish and dairy, so the team takes the environmentally friendly option of vegetarianism during their time on project. If this sounds worrying to you, not to worry, as volunteers regularly make delicious comfort foods such as pizza, falafel-style burgers, curries with homemade chapattis and ginger and cinnamon cakes to name but a few. Get creative! There is also powdered milk to satisfy you avid tea-drinkers. 

Much of the fresh water in the streams surrounding the camp and on the peninsula are safe to drink and it’s important to remember to keep hydrated. Just be sure to check with staff first.

Costa Rica is also world famous for its coffee and it represents the country’s biggest export, so coffee lovers will have plenty of opportunities to get their hands on some. Luxuries like chocolate and packet soup are available in the town nearby, but it is worth bringing some of your favourite treats out with you as well as any herbs or spices. It is recommended that you buy snacks when in town (cereal bars, biscuits etc) for mid-morning sugar dips or to give you energy on long treks.

4. The reviews


5. Gallery

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6. Extras

ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

Costa Rica provides everything you could ever desire for an action packed and eye opening gap year or eco break. You may wish to explore some of the activities and unforgettable sights that are on offer here whether it is in your spare time, or even in a few extra days spent in this spectacular country at the beginning or end of the project. There are so many possibilities to explore – here are just a few suggestions! Try white water rafting, river kayaking, or even ocean kayaking – all activities that Costa Rica is famous for whether you are an expert or a compete novice.

If you have a head for heights see the landscape stretch out beneath you from above with a canopy tree top tour, or even an aerial tram! Other adventure activities that are on offer include biking, hiking, snorkelling and even bungee jumping! For something more sedate, there are butterfly and insect farms – fascinating for those with an interest in the natural world. The Costa Rica camp is also close to the border with Panama so you could always add another country onto your list by heading to this fascinating country too.

Alternatively you may wish to visit the Frontier house or local hostel in Puerto Jimenez ($7.50 per day, food not included). Costa Rica really does have something for everyone – you will never be short of ways to enjoy your spare time!

* Please note that you will need to cover your own costs for extra activities.

Kayaking

Learn more about one of the most biologically intense places on earth as you explore solitary beaches, beautiful rivers, mountains, waterfalls, farms and amazing diversity of wildlife on a guided kayak tour. You will have the unique opportunity to explore the mangroves from the water, and then paddle towards the sea where you may encounter dolphins, sea turtles, fish and ocean birds. You can kayak individually, in a group or with a guide who will teach you more about the incredible mangrove and coastal environment of Costa Rica.

Wildlife Sanctuary

Visit this remote wildlife sanctuary which is providing wildlife rescue and rehabilitation for orphaned, injured and displaced animals indigenous to south Costa Rica. The sanctuary promotes conservation through education and community involvement and work promote the maintenance of natural biodiversity. The sanctuary run a public education programme and you have the opportunity to visit the organisation for a day to see the animals, meet and chat with staff and walk around 700 acres of local forest land.

Modern conveniences

 

Puerto Jimenez - 1 hour collectivo from camp at own cost

  • Banks / ATMs; Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica
  • Bar / cafe
  • Hotels and hostels
  • Internet cafe
  • Medical clinic
  • Souvenir shop
  • Supermarket
  • Traditional markets and cafes
  • Western style restaurants

7. Dates and Costs

COSTS

2 months $3,295

DEPARTURE DATES

Every Monday throughout the year

DURATION

You can join this project for a minimum of 2 months

This project is available throughout the Christmas period

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Before you go

  • Pre-departure support
  • Travel & medical advice & documentation
  • Equipment advice
  • Discounted medical kit
  • Free Frontier t-shirt
  • UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training (extra cost applies)

In-country

  • Airport pickup on first Monday of the month before 12pm
  • Basic food
  • Accommodation
  • Local orientation
  • Project training
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ back-up

AIRPORT INFORMATION

Nearest airport(s): Puerto Jimenez (PJM)

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Flights

Flights are not included in our trip costs. However, we have partnered with an experienced and professional team of travel experts to help our volunteers find the best flight deals for their trips with us. This travel specialist operates in the tailor-made, long haul multi-stop travel market, arranging complex airfares and transfers for independent travellers. They provide expertise, security and a vast product range along with a Travel Butler service which is a single point of contact and support whilst you are overseas.

We recommend that you obtain a quote using the following contact details rather than book online, as our partner will offer you the most competitive fares. To receive your quote or to seek any advice for your flights, please contact our dedicated team of travel experts on 0800 082 9994 (or +44 800 082 9994 outside the UK) or email frontier@flightcentre.co.uk .

Visas

For fast, efficient and up-to-date visa advice please contact our recommended visa consultancy partner:

Depending on your destination country and your country of origin, you might require a visa. Please see the appropriate country consular website for details or contact our affiliate visa consultancy service. Please note that your visa will usually start on the date that you enter the destination country regardless of when it was issued. Please check with the relevant embassy or high commission. If you are purchasing your visa or paying entry/exit fees in-country you will probably need to pay in US Dollars. If you have any questions please consult the relevant embassy or high commission. Please check the visa information regularly, as changes often happen without warning.

Insurance

You'll need to buy appropriate travel insurance covering your participation on the project. You won't be able to go without the right travel insurance so double check to avoid disappointment. Please make sure that you're covered for the whole duration of your trip – from the day you leave the UK to the day you return. It's also best to get your travel insurance at the same time as paying the deposit for your project. Depending on your policy, this will cover you for any unexpected cancellations.

Your insurance should include the following:

  • Medical cover, including medical emergencies and medical evacuations (up to USD$3,000,000 / GBP£2,000,000);
  • Personal liability (up to USD$1,500,000 / GBP£1,000,000);
  • Cancellation and curtailment of your trip (up to the value of your project contribution).

If you are going to be scuba diving you should get coverage for scuba diving up to 30m, including hyperbaric therapy treatment (unlimited). You should consider obtaining insurance to cover you for any additional activities which you plan to do during, before, or after your Frontier project. We recommend that you obtain cover for your baggage and personal effects.


LEGAL STATEMENT
Frontier Partner Projects and Frontier group projects are run in partnership with in-country NGOs, small community based organisations, local research institutes, academic organisations and conservation agencies. Project descriptions and information are supplied directly by our partners or field staff and are accurate at time of publishing.

We aim to keep information up to date and accurate, however, the nature of our projects and in particular the fact that they are constantly evolving and developing in response to changing needs means that project activities, travel schedules, tour itineraries and daily timetables can change overnight and without notice.

8. How to apply

To apply for this placement, click on "Apply Now" below. Fill in the short application form and one of our advisers will then call you back to answer any questions and make sure this is the perfect placement for you. Applying doesn't cost a penny and you won't pay anything until you're completely happy and you're ready to reserve your place.


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