Potential research and applied projects that could be taken up by FES graduate students in association with the Las Nubes project
[Major Paper or Thesis] Integrated Farms: Integrated farming deals with a mix of agricultural activities, for example; multiple crop varieties, crop rotation, livestock plus crops, mixes of traditional and modern agricultural methods, sustainable (e.g., shade grown coffee) and other approaches, etc.. Examples of integrated farm approach include permiculture and integrated farm management. What is the economic feasibility and sustainability of such farms in the Costa Rican context?
[Major Paper or Thesis] Certification of Farms: There are various types of certification for farms that Costa Rican farmers can consider. These include sustainability certification from the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET), certifications for organic produce, Fair trade certification (e.g., from Rainforest Alliance) and more. What are the requirements, costs, benefits (economic feasibility) and barriers to achieving such certifications? What individual and communal strategies exist or can be developed to support certification?
[Major Paper or Thesis] Community Capacity: Assessment of capacity with in communities and organizations within the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor to participate in, or undertake, corridor development. Development of capacity building strategies.
[Major Project] Environmental Impact Assessment: What is the environmental impact of road construction and quarry activity in the biological corridor, e.g., near Santa Elena (close to the Las Nubes reserve)? What stakeholders are involved in such activity, what are their motivations, how might they be usefully engaged in conversations about sustainability and conservation?
[Major Paper or Thesis] Communal Land Acquisition for Conservation: Evaluation of Nectandra’s (www.nectandra.org) program (in the Balsa sub-watershed) for community loans to purchase conservation lands, and a feasibility assessment of its implementation in the Peñas Blancas Watershed.
[Major Paper or Thesis] Monitoring of squirrel monkey populations, assessment of squirrel monkey habitat, and development of conservation and protection mechanisms for squirrel monkeys in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor and region. (This project is connected to the discovery of a small population of these primates in the corridor two years ago).
[Major Project] Waste Management: Development of community waste management plans for recyclable material, organic material, hazardous waste and solid waste disposal, including economic analysis and/or business plan.
[Major Project] Environmental Education and Outreach: Development of environmental education modules for schools, that could link schools in to conservation, sustainable agricultures and community-based environmental monitoring initiatives (e.g., monitoring of amphibians, benthic macroinvertebrates, birds, etc.).
[Major Project] Environmental Education and Outreach: Development of environmental education outreach strategies and materials for environmental fairs and community events. Operation of environmental outreach activities.