Park and Reserve Assistant Volunteer

ASVO - Barra Honda Park, Costa Rica
Quick Facts: Placement ID: IND-135 Location: Barra Honda Park, Costa Rica Sector: Wildlife and the Environment Category: Conservation Min Duration: 2 weeks Lodging: Host Family / Lodge Language: Basic Placement Fee: 50 USD
Download the Complete Profile Apply for this Placement

Volunteer Job Description

Costa Rica is a country that has in its small territory, about 5% of the planet's biodiversity. This natural treasure is protected by the National System of Conservation which covers 25% of the national geography. There are 160 protected areas, of which 27 have been designated as national parks. Other areas are designated under different management categories such as wildlife refuges, biological reserves, national monuments, forest reserves, wetlands and protected areas. Costa Rica's progressive environmental policies and eco-tourism policies in their National Park System have been taken as a model for development in other countries.

According to the digital magazine, Eroski Consumer, Costa Rica ranks third as one of the most ecological countries in the world. This release is based on the results of the Environmental Performance Index 2010 from the Colombia and Yale Universities in the United States. Costa Rica, was ranked third for its natural wealth, which allows it to survive, in large part, off of eco-tourism. It has also avoided deforestation, which has devastated other Latin American countries and therefore, scored well in forestry, agriculture and fishing categories.

Despite the fact that Costa Rica has strong natural resources and conservation policies, in support of the protected areas; the government is sadly lacking in financial resources and can not afford to keep each place actively operating and supplied with adequate staff.

Barra Honda National Park contains an amazing system of caverns, nineteen have been explored and one is open for tourists. Help is needed to protect and maintain this park's diverse dry forests, as well as to maintain and improve its infrastructure.

A national park volunteer assistant is not required to have any previous experience but must have a love for the outdoors. The volunteer would be required to help maintain the park facilities, aid in the protection of natural resources, assist the park staff in the customer service division and help in the research department in the documentation regarding various flora and fauna.

Equipment needed by national park volunteer assistants to bring:

Lightweight and comfortable clothing Comfortable shoes or sport shoes Raincoat or poncho depending on the season. (May to October is the rainy season) Flashlight and spare batteries Alarm clock Mosquito net Basic First Aid Kit, especially for mosquito bites Water Bottle Sunscreen

Volunteer Tasks Required

Public Service

National park volunteer assistants will aim to help provide the best customer service, to meet the different needs for information about the park that tourists require: rules and regulations while visiting the park, park access, attractions, rates, services, infrastructure and information about the flora and fauna of the park. (English speaking visitors).

Monitor the Areas

A national park volunteer assistant would help in the protection of the various flora and fauna by patrolling the trails with other volunteers and staff to ensure that the areas are clear of debris and if any injured animals are found, that they receive the necessary attention.

Maintenance of Trails and Facilities

A national park volunteer assistant may be required to help maintain buildings by painting, cleaning and occasionally helping with construction. A volunteer may also be require to help with the maintenance of the trails by cutting brush, power mowing, weed-whacking, tree felling etc.

Reforestation

During the dry season in this area, the national parks suffer with the loss of a lot of endemic tree species due to the fires caused by the weather or by human carelessness. A national park volunteer assistant may be ask to help in any reforestation programs implemented by the rangers.

Education

A national park volunteer assistant may have the opportunity to help support environmental educational activities and assist park staff in improving their English skills through a mutual exchange in language dialogue.

Research

A national park volunteer assistant may be asked to participate in the documentation of various flora and fauna in the park. Every year in Costa Rica, a new species of flora and fauna has been found. The rangers are responsible for recording these findings and reporting it to the Ministry of the Environment.

Host Organization Details

ASVO

ASVO (Association of Volunteers for Service in Protected Areas)is a non-profit and non-governmental organization that is dedicated to maintaining and preserving national parks, communities and beaches throughout Costa Rica. ASVO's mission is to promote the importance of preserving the environment by operating a number of grass-root conservation projects and conducting a variety of educational workshops throughout the country. Over the years environmental issues such as deforestation, species extinction, forest fires, and climate change have been addressed by the members of ASVO as they have worked to expand their programs to different regions in the country.

The organization was founded on January 27, 1989 in the response to the growing realization that although Costa Rica is renowned for their natural resources and biodiversity, there was very little awareness around environmental protection by many people who lived in Costa Rica. Originally, ASVO focused on the preservation of national parks but as the program grew they expanded to include projects such as sea turtle conservation, community education and habitat identification.

For over 20 years, ASVO has been striving to call the people throughout Costa Rica to work together to stop the devastating environmental problems. In an attempt to address some of these issues, the members of ASVO have partnered with different Costa Rican schools, government agencies, community groups, local and international volunteer organizations and other environmental agencies. Through these partnerships the members of ASVO hope to raise awareness and encourage people to get involved to help solve these pressing issues.

The issues that ASVO are trying to address are very important for a number of reasons. In Costa Rica the government has allocated more than 25% of the countries land as National Parks or areas where ecosystems should be protected. The challenge is that the Costa Rican Government is unable to fund all the jobs, resources and supplies required to ensure that each area is constantly maintained, monitored and that required data that is needed to be collected from each park is conducted and kept up to date. Therefore organizations like ASVO play an important part in helping to achieve environmental objectives set out by the Costa Rican Government.

Although ASVO initiatives comprise of a number of different goals the three dominant ones include deforestation, illegal hunting or poaching of endangered species and promoting educational seminars to a wide range of people. Each of the above are important to address.

During the 1990's Costa Rica had one of the worst deforestation rates in Latin America. According to reports issued by "State of the World's Forests" at the beginning of the century they had approximately 99 percent of rain forest coverage that diminished quickly to 88 percent and by the 1940's the rain forest coverage was down to 35 percent. Now with the help of government initiatives and organizations like ASVO the current rain forest coverage is at about 50 percent.

The reason that forests where being cut down at such alarming rates were for two primary reasons: a) increased demand for cattle b) lush wood that could be exported to other countries who were wanting that commodity and it provide increased revenue for the country to improve things like infrastructure. There was a high demand from the United States for beef exported from Costa Rica which provided incentives for people to increase agricultural output and start cattle farms. Many historians believe that the increase demand for exported cattle was the the number one cause of the rapid decline in the cutting down of massive areas of rain forests.

Although deforestation has stopped dramatically, the existing forests are still under threat by illegal logging in protected zones, agricultural development in protected zones, and the need for increased environmental awareness projects to stop people from continuing to impact protected land areas.

The increase of deforestation has put a huge amount of pressure on existing ecosystems in Costa Rica. As trees were cut down the natural habitats for so many species became inhabitable. This causes growing concern and challenges because of Costa Rica's vast variety of wildlife that is found throughout the country. As a result the number of flora and fauna that are on the list of possibility of becoming distinct continually grows.

In recent reports from the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment and Energy have stated that more than 500,000 species live within the country. This represents 4 % of the total number of species estimated worldwide. As a result, Costa Rica is listed in the top 20 countries with the highest biodiversity in the world. Therefore, organizations like ASVO have an important role to help preserve the natural wonders of Costa Rica.

ASVO has been very successful at setting up grass-root initiatives that are designed to help increase patrolling of park grounds to ensure the park lands are kept safe; that endangered species like the leather-back turtle have a safe place to lay their eggs and a hatchery to monitor them when they are young plus creating educational seminars to various demographics. However, perhaps one of their greatest achievements is providing educational seminars to people whose livelihoods depend on illegal poaching or cutting down trees on protected land, by explaining the impacts this type of activity has on the ecosystems of Costa Rica. In many cases they have not only provided education but demonstrated alternative ways to make money so that they would not have to depend on poaching endangered animals as a way to make a sustainable income.

Does this organization have any religious affiliations?

ASVO does not have any religious affiliations and does not discriminate against individuals who do affiliate themselves with a particular religious sector.

When They Were Founded

This organization was started on January 27th 1989 by a group of concerned Costa Rica citizens which included several retired civil servants. The group believed that they needed to start actively promoting the importance of preserving the bio-diversity of their country to help ensure that the increase in pollution and population did not have drastic effect on the environment. Many of the original members remain on the board in advisory positions.

How Are They Funded

ASVO is currently funded by donations, government grants and private donations. They are always looking for new ways to generate money to improve ranger stations, equipment and data collection materials.

Donation Requests

Your time and enthusiasm are the most important things you can bring to this organization. Specific donations required will vary according to the project. Volunteers,(if interested), should inquire with the BaseCamp Program Coordinator in Costa Rica to receive a donation wish list that is appropriate to the specific project that they will be working at.

At head office, donations of laptops or desktop computers would be most appreciated, as well as any kind of office supplies.

Placement Location Information

Barra Honda Park, Costa Rica

Barra Honda National Park is located on the western coast of Costa Rica in the province of Guanacaste in the Nicoya area; it is part of the Tempisque Conservation region. This national park is very important because of the vegetation and animals that live in the area. The dry tropical forest found in this park exist only in a few places in the world and many of the animals in this area are on the endangered species list. Visitors to Barra Honda National Park, often comment on how vastly different the flora and fauna are as compared to other parks found throughout Costa Rica.

Apart from the interesting vegetation and wildlife, Barra Honda is well known throughout Costa Rica for its beautiful beaches and exquisite caves. There are very few caves found in Costa Rica, however, in 2005 the official number of caves found within Barra Honda National park was forty-two. Geologists have conducted extensive research in this area to learn why so many caves have formed in this region. Their studies found that the caves of Barra Honda were formed when islets were raised above the plains of the Tempisque River. Through time, the rain deposited on rocks mixed with carbonic acid, which filtered through the limestone, thus forming waterways and caves. As a result, beautiful caves were formed and have become a major attraction in the area.

These caves which were recently discovered (1960’s and 1970’s) now number at least 42. Among these underground chambers, there are amazing caves, such as: Santa Ana (240 meters deep); La Trampa (110 meters deep); Terciopelo (60 meters deep); Pozo Hediondo with numerous bats; Nicoa , where ancient Pre-Columbian burial sites have been found. In these impressive caves, visitors witness deep chambers, numerous stalagmites that grow from the floor or stalactites that hang from the ceiling. Often, these stalactites and stalagmites unite and form columns that look like molten candlesticks.

Barra Honda National Park, was founded August 20, 1974, after many of the forests in this region were destroyed. During the early 1960's many of the forest in this area were cut down due to an increase in lumber exportation and the increasing demand for cattle products from the United States. A total of 2,295 hectares of land is protected in Barra Honda National Park and the further deforestation of this land has been prevented.

The town is very small with an estimated of 2211 habitats. Volunteers can find "Pulperias" which is the Costa Rican word for convenience store, there is only one internet cafe in town.

The accommodation will be at the ranger station which is a wooden building with three bedrooms and three beds in each. They have electricity and water.

Transfer From BaseCamp

From BaseCamp Center in Puntarenas, volunteers will take a bus to Barranca to wait for the bus to Nicoya, it takes 3 hours to get to main downtown Nicoya. At the bus station, the volunteer will need to connect to the Santa Ana bus which will take one extra hour and from there they can walk for around 30 minutes to the entrance of the National Park.

Distance & Time

Distance from BaseCamp: 186 km
Travel Time from BaseCamp: 5:30

Weather in the Area

The weather in the Guanacaste area is very warm all year around but the area presents the Costa Rica seasons. From December until April the weather in this region is very dry with very little rainfall and temperatures are between 28°C to 36°C. From May until November it is the rainy season with temperatures between 25°C to 28°C. The park's average annual rainfall is 1970 ml.

City/Village Description

Barra Honda National Park is located on the western coast of Costa Rica in the province of Guanacaste in the Nicoya area; it is part of the Tempisque Conservation region. This national park is very important because of the vegetation and animals that live in the area. The dry tropical forests found in this park exist only in a few places in the world and many of the animals in this area are on the endangered species list. Visitors to Barra Honda National Park, often comment on how vastly different the flora and fauna are as compared to other parks found throughout Costa Rica.

Apart from the interesting vegetation and wildlife, Barra Honda is well known throughout Costa Rica for its beautiful beaches and exquisite caves. There are very few caves found in Costa Rica, however, in 2005 the official number of caves found within Barra Honda National Park was forty-two. Geologists have conducted extensive research in this area to learn why so many caves have formed in this region. Their studies found that the caves of Barra Honda were formed when islets were raised above the plains of the Tempisque River. Over time, the rain deposited on rocks mixed with carbonic acid, which filtered through the limestone, thus forming waterways and caves. As a result, beautiful caves were formed and have become a major attraction in the area.

These caves which were recently discovered (1960’s and 1970’s) now number at least 42. Among these underground chambers, there are amazing caves, such as: Santa Ana (240 meters deep); La Trampa (110 meters deep); Terciopelo (60 meters deep); Pozo Hediondo with numerous bats; Nicoa, where ancient Pre-Columbian burial sites have been found. In these impressive caves, visitors witness deep chambers, numerous stalagmites that grow from the floor or stalactites that hang from the ceiling. Often, these stalactites and stalagmites unite and form columns that look like molten candlesticks.

Barra Honda National Park, was founded August 20, 1974, after many of the forests in this region were destroyed. During the early 1960's many of the forests in this area were cut down due to an increase in lumber exportation and the increasing demand for cattle products from the United States. A total of 2,295 hectares of land is protected in Barra Honda National Park and the further deforestation of this land has been prevented.

Nearest Medical Clinic

Hospital La Anexion
Republica de Mexico Street
Nicoya
TEL 1: 2685-5066
TEL 2: 2685-5283

Placement Address

ASVO
Quebrada Honda From The Bus Station 650 Meter Southwest
Barra Honda Park
Costa Rica

Accommodation and Meals

All of our volunteers begin their stay in Costa Rica at our BaseCamp Center in San Jose. Given that this placement is more than a 1 hour 15 minute commute from BaseCamp, volunteers here will be living with a host family after your orientation. Living with a host family is an awesome experience for a person looking to really experience Costa Rica and its culture.

The following information outlines a brief description of life at BaseCamp and also what someone can expect living with a host family in Costa Rica.

If you think that living with a host family is not for you, then this placement might not be the best fit with what you are looking for. You should try completing our application. It's totally free and will allow our team in Costa Rica to come up with a list of exactly which placements they would reccommend for you based on your personal preferences, background, skills and interests.

BaseCamp Costa Rica

BaseCamp Costa Rica
BaseCamp Costa Rica Address

Ave 16 St. 39&41
Los Yoses Sur
San Jose, Costa Rica

BaseCamp Costa Rica Contact Details

Tel: 506-8763-9595
Tel: 506-4030-1891
Mobile: 506-8763-9595

Take a Tour of BaseCamp
Accommodation in Costa Rica

All volunteers on our program in Costa Rica start out at our BaseCamp Center. The center is located in the capital city San Jose, and is a fantastic place from which to start your adventure.

Once volunteers have finished their orientation, where they live depends largely on the location of their placement. If their placement is more than a 1 hour 15 minutecommute from BaseCamp, then the only accommodation option may be host families or volunteer lodges in the national parks. However, if the placement is within a 1 hour 15 minute commute, then volunteers can choose whether or not to stay with us at BaseCamp or live with a host family.

BaseCamp Costa Rica is located in the province of San Jose at Los Yoses area. This is a fantastic area closed to the University of Costa Rica, San Pedro Mall, banks, supermarkets, restaurants, embassies and stores. Walking distance to down town and only 30 minutes away from the Juan Santamaria Airport.

BaseCamp has four bedrooms and three wash-rooms. The beds are mainly bunk beds in dormitory style rooms. Pillows, sheets and blankets are provided. There is a large common area where movies, books and games are available to our guests and there is a patio with a nice set up. This is an ideal setting for reading, studying Spanish or just some quiet relaxation.

BaseCamp is where volunteers first come when they arrive in Costa Rica and where they live for at least the duration of their orientation and training. The meal plan at the centre is based on a 14 day rotating schedule of a variety of traditional dishes from around the country. This meal plan allows volunteers to gain comfort and familiarity with both Costa Rican food and meal etiquette before making the transition to living with a host family.

Orientation and language training sessions take place in the BaseCamp Center. Each day of orientation blends some workshops and lessons with a mixture of outings to explore and become familiar with transportation and knowledge regarding the city.

Living With a Host Family in Costa Rica

Living with a host family in Costa Rica is a fantastic way to gain a deep understanding of and appreciation for the people and customs of the country. Each home-stay will provide a bed and three meals per day for our volunteers. The majority of host families offer private rooms with only one or two volunteers living with the family.

In the case of a volunteer lodge or ranger station (which is often the only option for placements within a National Park), volunteers will be living in dormitory type accommodation and meals will be provided in a mess hall or dining area.

Living with a host family can greatly enhance your performance at your placement. For one, it will have a huge influence on the speed with which you gain familiarity with the local language. This, along with your deeper understanding of cultural practices and beliefs that you are likely to gain in this environment, can go a long way to improving or strengthening your relationships with your team mates at work. Furthermore, a significant percentage of our host families are closely affiliated with the organizations with which our volunteers work. As such, even the evening meal or hanging out around the house can become valuable time during which volunteers can share their ideas and continue their support of their host organization.

All of this being said, living with a host family is not for everyone. It is very important for volunteers to honor the house rules in their host family and to be punctual. Also, depending on how remote your placement location, host families can be very rustic. Our staff in country can give you a better idea of what exactly you can expect from a host family in any particular community. However, in general, if these things sound like they might pose a challenge for you, we strongly suggest that you look at a placement within commuting distance from BaseCamp Costa Rica.

How the Program Works

Our program structure and costing is completely flexible which lets our volunteers ensure that they only pay for exactly the degree of support that they want.

Option 1 - Free Services

Some volunteers prefer to coordinate their own accommodation, meals and other support while overseas.

Anyone is welcome to use our volunteer placement search tool to help in finding a placement that is well suited to their interests. Once someone finds a placement that they wish to work with, they are welcome to make all the rest of their arrangmeents on their own.

As well, our team of staff overseas are often able to offer a few helpful pointers for volunteers 'doing it on their own'. Just send us an email with your questions and we will put you in touch with our team abroad. We only ask that you keep your requests fairly general, as this type of advice is exactly how our team earn their living. :)

Option 2 - Placement Support - 250 USD

Other volunteers would like assistance in selecting and confirming their placement, but they plan to manage their own accommodation and other expenses on their own.

These volunteers have the option of choosing to only have our assistance with selecting and confirming their placement. This option also includes ongoing placement support while abroad, so a volunteer would be able to ask our team for help if things at their placement were not working out.

In providing Placement Support, our team works with each volunteer through email, telephone and either Skype or Google Hangouts, to ensure that each volunteer has a clear understanding of their placement options. Our in-country staff will put together a custom list of placement options for each volunteer that they believe are the most appropriate matches with the volunteer's background, skills and interests. Then each volunteer can work with our team both in Canada and abroad to go through each of the options and narrow-down their selection.

Option 3 - Full Program Support

For most volunteers who are volunteering for less than a year, they are looking for an option that includes their accommodation, meals, airport reception, country and program orientation and placement support. This is what our Program Fees are designed for.

We are proud of how over the years we have ensured that our program fees are amoungst the most reasonable of any program in the world while we continue to provide exceptional volunteer support both at home and abroad.

Our Program Fees and listings of what these do and do not include are listed below:

Program Fees

Program Fees - Costa Rica

  Registration Fee
250
 
  1 Week
395
 
  2 Weeks
620
 
  3 Weeks
844
 
  4 Weeks
1,068
 
  5 Weeks
1,243
 
  6 Weeks
1,418
 
  7 Weeks
1,593
 
  8 Weeks
1,768
 
 
 
  Additional Weeks
175
 

Costa Rica wildlife and conservation placements require an additional $7 USD per day fee to cover park fees and accommodation. All program fees are listed in US Dollars.

What is Included
  • Pre-Departure support
  • Placement consulation
  • Airport reception & transfer
  • 2 Day orientation
  • Accommodation (BaseCamp or host family)
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Emergency & placement support

What is Not Included
    Before Departure
  • International flight
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Visa costs where required
  • Work permits where required
    While Overseas
  • Daily transportation to and from placement
  • Transport to airport on departure
  • Placement fees if requried


Placement Fee Alert

This placement has a placement fee!

In some cases, a placement will have to take on certain expenses in order to host a volunteer. For example, some medical internship placements take time away from paid medical staff to help with educational assistance. This has a cost that is compensated by a placement fee. In other cases, the organization may have to pay for additional equipment, energy consumption or other expense in order to put a volunteer to work.

In such cases, the organizaiton charges a fee. This fee is paid directly to the organization in cash on the ground.

One of the reasons that we keep this fee separate is so that volunteers who do not pay us for accommodation, meals etc (Program Fees), will see that they will still have to make this payment directly to the organizaiton upon their arrival.

The placement fee for this organization is: 50 USD

Program Dates

MONTHS NOT AVAILABLE

The following is a list of all months during which this placement is not available.

  • April
  • December

Our regularly scheduled program start dates are the first Friday of each month, every month of the year. We strongly recommend beginning your program on one of these dates as this will allow you to go through our orientation alongside other international volunteers.

If you would prefer, our application will also allow you to select a custom start date for your program. Keep in mind that there is an additional fee for a custom start date which ranges from 50 to 75 USD.

Sep 06, 2019 Oct 04, 2019 Nov 01, 2019
Dec 06, 2019 Jan 03, 2020 Feb 07, 2020
Mar 06, 2020 Apr 03, 2020 May 01, 2020
Jun 05, 2020 Jul 03, 2020 Aug 07, 2020
Sep 04, 2020 Oct 02, 2020 Nov 06, 2020
Dec 04, 2020 Jan 01, 2021 Feb 05, 2021
Mar 05, 2021 Apr 02, 2021 May 07, 2021
Jun 04, 2021 Jul 02, 2021 Aug 06, 2021

PLEASE NOTE:

These dates are the day that volunteers should plan to arrive on the ground in country. We can accommodate arrivals in-country at any time day or night on these dates.

Give us a Call
Canada / USA 866-646-4693 (toll free)
UK 866-646-4693 (toll free)
Australia 866-646-4693 (toll free)
International 613-353-3000
Send us a Message