Along with three other MSEM students from Cohort 4 and a PhD student from Indiana University, I am conducting an independent research project in Costa Rica as part of a three year project. The overall project is looking at land fragmentation effects on forest condition, community vitality, and primate health. My project focuses on examining the effects of participation in economic incentive programs (payments for environmental services) on equity and perceptions of forest health. As a group we travel to different properties around biological stations Las Cruces and La Selva. Teresa and I survey and interview landowners at the fragment and in the neighboring community with the help of a translator. We have found that people are extremely willing to participate and welcoming us into their homes. Our response rate is very high allowing us to collect enough surveys for meaningful statistical analysis. After we complete our independent projects we hope to combine data from the five projects creating interdisciplinary results providing a clearer picture of the effects of land fragmentation in Costa Rica.
The work is fun and the people we meet are very generous with their time. We work with wonderful field guides, drivers, and translators from OTS that are the real champions in our research. Costa Rica continues to amaze me with the extraordinary biodiversity, my bird game is high, and I could stare at sloths all day. It is also a unique experience to work in a collaborative environment and learn from my peers. I am excited to see how the project wraps up in the next week. We have a lot of ideas about how to improve the project for the next two years and many future projects that people can build off of our research. If anyone from Cohort 5 is interested in getting more information about any of the projects just let me know! Or if you have questions about coming to Costa Rica in May. Contact me: Sarah Mattecheck firstname.lastname@example.org