Earlier this week my 17 year-old host brother asked me to help him with an English project. He had to develop a brochure about a tourist ‘attraction’ on Chira Island. Assuming that everyone would choose “La Amistad,” the ecological cabins on Chira, we decided to choose the mangrove forests. This is an incredibly important habitat for numerous species, so what follows is what we came up with with help from my host mom. (She is a wealth of information and is studying rural tourism with other women on the island).
This morning, our group discussed risks and benefits of eco-tourism on the island in preparation for our visit tomorrow to the eco-cabins. One of the biggest benefits of community-based tourism to me, seems to be that the operations are localed owned and operated and the money stays in the community. Community-based tourism also provides opportunities to empower local (women) – my host mother is taking a course in rural tourism at the moment, and learning about the various species of birds on Chira.
Why are the Mangrove forests important to Chira’s eco-system?
They are rich in biodiversity.
They are home to many different species.
Various species of birds nest in the mangroves.
Chira Island’s mangrove forests have 4-5 different species.
There are mangroves all around the Gulf of Nicoya, but most mangrove forests have only 1 or 2 types of trees; Chira’s mangrove forests have 4-5 different mangrove species.
The mangroves are an important habitat for fish, mollusks, birds, crocodiles and other species. For example, shrimp go to the mangroves to lay their eggs.
Chira Island’s mangroves, like other areas in Costa Rica, are protected by the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunication (MINAET).
Species found in the mangrove forests
Crocodile, Espatula rosada, Piangua, Chora, Shrimp, Garsa, Pelican
Excursions to the Mangrove forests from Chira Island
Guided tours are organized by a group of local women that run “La Amistad,” a set of ecological cabins on Chira Island.
The boat (also called “La Amistad”) can hold up to 14 people.
Tours take approximately 1 or 1.5 hours.
Tours leave at high tide.