Sustainability in Costa Rica


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The Surrounding RainforestThe butterfly farm Kasiri is located on the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica and consists of 100 hectares of land, where about half of the farm is still primary rainforest. The remaining half is old cattle pastures that have been left to regenerate.The Laboratory!

One hectare (2.5 acres) of the farm is devoted to the production of butterfly pupae for export, an activity that has proven to be the sustainable alternative to agriculture. Butterfly production at Kasiri was started when looking for an environmentally friendly way of life as well as an interesting possibility to generate a new sources of income and employment for surrounding farmer families as well as for the indigenous Cabécar people living in the vicinity - when a traditional farmer looks at the forest he sees something to cut down for more pasture and cattle; here, it has become something to be protected.

The breeding programme: Around fifteen families are supported by the income that working at Kasiri represents. Since 199The Outdoor Cages6, when Kasiri was started, various species have been bred such as Morpho peleides, Papilio thoas, Parides iphidamas, Heliconius sapho, Heliconius sara, Heliconius hecale, Heliconius cydno, Battus polidamas andThe Laboratory (again) Consul fabius among others.

The farm is equipped with seven mesh enclosures where the butterflies lay their eggs on host plants. The process is one of constant collections. With some butterfly species, it is the egg that will be collected inside the enclosures so they can hatch under controlled conditions in the small and rustic laboratory. With others, mostly because of less natural enemies (such as ants, spiders, crickets, wasps etc) the eggs are left to hatch inside the enclosures and then - again, depending on the species - collected in different stages of development to then be fedInside the Enclosure inside the laboratory.

When the pupae is being formed, the shedding of the larval skin and transformation into small suspended chrysalis, always happens under strict observation inside the laboratory. Every Sunday and Monday the pupae are checked in a “quality control” before they are packed in cotton wool and made ready to be exported from the capital San José, a three hour drive from the farm.

Conservation project
Kasiri co-operated with the non-profit Nairi FoundaButterflytion, an organization set up specifically to establish the preservation of the area known as the Barbilla National Park (some 12,000 hectares/30,000 acres), a one hour walk from the Kasiri farm. Tropical rainforests are being cut at a staggering rate; Kasiri and Barbilla are positive examples of conservation.

Support and strengthening of Indian culture. ”Without our forest we can´t continue as Indians”, said one Cabécarman. He was talking about the Cabécar Indians’ living in the rainforest close to Kasiri and rAn Indian Settlement Nearbyeferring to their lifestyle being so closely interrelated with the environment.

To secure the Indian territories is an important struggle for this minority. Kasiri leads, in collaboration with the non-profit Nairi Foundation, a project of writing a series of books called “Sa ñayuwá sa síwawa” (Let´s study Cabécar). These are the first books ever to be written in the indigenous language and are being used in over 150 state-owned schools where Cabécar children study.

Marine Rojas, one of the owners of Kasiri is one of four authors of these books. The remaining authors aCabécar Familyre all Cabécar. The work of writing a series of books in the indigenous language, with its oral tradition, has meant a support and strengthening of the Cabécar culture. Language is part of culture, and at the same time the main means of expression and understanding.

The owners of Kasiri believe that giving knowledge, creativity and self-respect and identification to tCabécar Girl Studyinghe members of the younger Cabécar generations are important ingredients to strengthen Cabécar culture, so that they can find ways to participate in the democratic process. The Cabécar represent a people with a culture and political system that have a lot to give and learn about human wisdom - they have an important and elemental conviction: the ones who wast or destroy what nature gives, destroy life itself. The project of producing schoolbooks is part of Kasiri’s bigger goal – to protect the tropical rain forest and at the same time support the people living there.