Sheltering in Nature

The Turrubares Hills in Costa Rica’s Central Pacific region. Photo courtesy of Hugo Santa Cruz.

This is an exciting example of the old adage about life’s lemons and making lemonade. The Macaw Sanctuary is an inspirational space and we’re proud to have explored it with Hugo during the Global Big Day.

Thank you to Milan Sime Martinic and the inspiration of Mongabay for nature and conservation stories.

A new conservation project is created in Costa Rica thanks to COVID-19

  • Hugo Santa Cruz is a photographer contributing to a new Netflix documentary about nature and coping with COVID-19.
  • A Bolivian currently stuck in Costa Rica due to the pandemic, he has turned his camera lens on the local landscape, which has helped him deal with his separation from family and friends.
  • Many hours spent in the rainforest have given him solace and also an idea to aid the rich natural heritage that he is currently documenting.
  • Santa Cruz is now a co-founder of the new Center for Biodiversity Restoration Foundation, which will work to restore and connect natural areas in the region.

Call him inspired.

If Biblical Ishmael were banished to the desert, naturalist Hugo Santa Cruz is quarantined to wander in paradise, a paradise in the Costa Rican jungle, that is.

He is in the Central American rainforest along the Paso de Las Lapas Biological Corridor, an area near the Pacific coast that converges with the mountainous foothills of the western dry tropical forest.

Roaming some 370 hectares of ample primary and secondary forests, regenerated forests restored from human damage, plus plantings, ponds, and biodiverse jungle, Santa Cruz is deep in the wilderness, far from home due to the COVID-19 shutdown of travel and normal activities. He is exploring the jungle, studying the animals, photographing, filming, and registering the species he encounters.

Cascade glass frog. Photo courtesy of Hugo Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz has found a paradise that allows greater depth and originality of observation, a refuge from isolation while in isolation, a perfect place for environmental inspiration. The zone provides food for scarlet macaws and some 350 species of birds.

“I am surrounded by nature in its maximum splendor,” Santa Cruz tells Mongabay. “Here I am studying and experiencing that it is possible to live sustainably.”

He is finding ways to connect with himself with nature and with the world: “The trips to jungles, beaches, deserts, mountains, and rivers, they were replaced by trips to the interior of my being, trying to get to know myself better, reflecting on what is happening to me and what is happening to the world; trying to control the nostalgia and anguish, which invades my thoughts from being so far from the most important people in my life.”

Santa Cruz is keenly aware that the living world is neither static nor cyclical, but rather that it is undergoing perpetual change. Spins, bobs, and blinks in the foliage hide amphibian body shapes. Upon closer inspection he can see the moist skin of the frogs.

He is close enough to touch nature, to taste it, to feel the jungle, to hear its sounds. In the forest, there are things going on all around him, inexplicable action, tremendous cracklings, and stirrings of nature. He has to be alert to capture the movement and the surprises.

Santa Cruz is finding within himself a clear understanding that we humans live because the animals and the forest live. As a nature and wildlife photographer and videographer, he is documenting his experience and is among experts in different fields contributing to a pilot documentary for Netflix on life, fears, and coping with the pandemic.

“In this nature reserve, which is now my home, I have spent a lot of time completely alone, or at least without human company,” says Santa Cruz. “From one day to the next, from being surrounded by people of different nationalities and listening to several languages at the same time, I started to hear only the trill of the birds, but my presence does not even matter to them.”…

…Biological diversity is related to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, said Santa Cruz, thus the importance of biodiversity restoration. “The levels at which biodiversity is comprised are different; from genes, followed by species, communities, ecosystems, and finally landscapes; where life interacts with its physical environment.”

As the coronavirus crisis continued, Santa Cruz found meaning in his escape.

“We want this existing model to expand over the biological corridor which includes the sanctuary,” said Santa Cruz thanking the efforts of the land’s owners “who managed to regenerate the ecosystem with the help of reforestationagroforestry, and ecotourism.”

He said his dream is to create an international exchange for ideas that would draw from the successful Costa Rican experience to allow people from Bolivia and other Latin American countries with environmental problems to share experiences and develop solutions.

Read the entire article here.

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