The world’s human population is projected to exceed 8 billion by 2023. As population increases so does our human footprint, the amount of earth’s land we use. Such growth also fragments the historical natural areas of wildlife habitats, so biodiversity and sustainability suffer. To counter these impacts, scientists are studying and developing paths or corridors to duplicate traditional migration patterns.
For example, Pierella Ecological Garden has its western boundary on the Rio Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. The river serves as a wildlife corridor in two ways, allowing fish and larger animals such as caiman to move from one location to another. Since every river is owned by the people in Costa Rica, there is a 15-meter right-of-way on each side of the river. Packs of howler monkeys tend to use the rivers to avoid people and cars as they move from area to area.
Another corridor is the canopy of trees that grow in the rainforest. Cecropia trees are the favored food of the three-toed sloth, while the two-toed sloth is less discriminating about its diet, it prefers the almond trees. In January 2021, we observed three two-toed sloths; two with babies. We also observed two three-toed sloths one with a baby. Both these sloth species now live there; moving slowly along a wildlife corridor known only to these languid travelers. Although the actual corridor is not defined, the sloths follow it and stay in places where the food and environment is suitable.
Both beach and mountain almond trees attract many bird species. Great Green Macaw routinely visit these trees to feast on the beach almonds as they journey across the country. Recently a pair of Scarlett Macaws, unusual inhabitants of this area of Costa Rica, were observed in the same almond trees. The natural and constructed corridors attract many diverse species to PEG, and the expansion will provide even more.
As we transform clear-cut land, the selection of trees will mimic that of the surrounding neotropical rainforests, ensuring endemic plants are available to migrating and relocating species. As we add more land, we anticipate that more wildlife will make it home home and travel along our wildlife corridors.
Our replanting ensures that the flora mix includes an abundance of seed/fruit bearing and habitat providing plants. As we bring more land back to the forest, we will have the opportunity to expand the mix of plants to attract an even wider variety of animals and insects, providing home and rest-stop to both the indigenous and those just passing through extended migrations.