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Junquillal Turtle Conservation

Junquillal Turtle Conservation Booster Grant with IVHQ
Junquillal Turtle Conservation Booster Grant

Project: Turtle Conservation
Program: Costa Rica

What do IVHQ volunteers do at this placement?
Turtle Conservation volunteers at Asociation de Conservacion Vida Azul take part in beach patrols, running in shifts through the night (8pm to 12am and 12am to 4am) and help to maintain the cleanliness of the beach alongside the local staff. Volunteers are also involved in general maintenance and monitoring temperatures in the hatchery and reforestation efforts. Composting also plays an important role and volunteers take part in gathering branches and
leaves and leading the community recycling program.

Who runs this placement?
Gabriel Francia, a biologist from Argentina, came to Costa Rica in 2003 and promptly fell in love with the community of Junquillal, where he decided to start researching the Leatherback turtle population. He created a research project to investigate nesting and migration activities of the Leatherbacks. Gabriel trained a group of local youth, aged 17 to 28 and nicknamed the “Baula Boys”, to help monitor turtle activities. The project was sponsored primarily by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the first few years of operation, however since then the project has had to learn to raise capital to pay for the project’s expenses. As IVHQ/Maximo Nivel began working with the placement, another local biologist Valerie Guthrie was contacted, who joined forces with Gabriel to run the project.

Since 2010, the project has been locally operated and funded under the new name Asociacion de Conservacion Vida Azul. This Association is made up of 12 representatives of different areas in Junquillal and the local communities. The community is highly involved and supportive, and the volunteers play a vital role in maintaining the strength of the program.

Junquillal Turtle Conservation booster grant with International Volunteer HQ

How will the IVHQ Booster Awards be used to benefit this placement?
The organization in Junquillal is dedicated to environmental protection. The entire team is personally committed to the cause, and all fundraising efforts are based on their track record in the environmental field. The community and our volunteers also look to the organization to be environmental leaders.

For this reason, the Booster Awards money will be used to purchase a solar panel system for Junquillal in order to provide a sustainable source of power. With the addition of this green form of energy, it is hoped that the project further serves as an example to the community and allows them to use the money that will be saved for other conservation efforts.

The overall award of $5,000 could be used to purchase 15 to 20 units of 235 watt solar panels, drastically cutting electricity use and utility bills. Smaller units designed to power laptops and other portable devices are available in Costa Rica for as little as $200, so if awarded a smaller amount, the award money can still be invested to make a profound statement and enable Asociacion de Conservacion Vida Azul shine as an environmental leader in the community.

Junquillal Turtle Conservation project with IVHQ

What is the long -term vision for this placement?
It is important for this project to continue both preserving the turtle population that arrives to Costa Rica to nest and breed, and to serve as an environmental role model upon which other community-based projects can base their efforts.

The project can influence the community and surrounding areas by:

  • Keeping beaches in good condition for nesting and hatching
  • Reducing threats to marine turtles (egg poaching and predators)
  • Conveying the importance of protecting sea turtles to locals and volunteers
  • Monitoring nesting activities for environmental research
  • Maintaining the hatchery for future baby turtles
  • Measuring climate change effects
    • Beach profiles, erosion, nest temperatures
  • Improving the Junquillal community and promoting development of conservation
  • activities
  • Increase environmental awareness
  • Beach reforestation
    • Provide shade and humidity, re-plant native trees only
    • Work varies based on time of year and project needs
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