Image Credit: Daniela Araya
The project elaborated a plan to improve the structural connectivity of the forest ecosystems in the geothermal fields of Borinquen and Las Pailas in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. These geothermal fields are developed within the Jaguar Conservation Unit called “Cordillera Guanacaste”, where we identified the areas of structural connectivity where it is necessary to implement wildlife passages on the roads of both geothermal fields.
For Las Pailas field, in its operation phase, the effectiveness of wildlife underpasses and canopy crossing structures was assessed. The estimated area of disturbance for the geothermal fields was increased when impacts associated with the roads, such as wildlife roadkill, noise, dust, and disruption of ecological connectivity, were included. Several important areas of connectivity still lack wildlife crossing on roads. Mitigation measures already implemented are giving safe passage to most mammal species, including a jaguar (Panthera onca) was detected using an underpass. However, the spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) was not detected using the canopy crossings. The application of the Environmental Guide: Wildlife-Friendly Roads is also recommended for the development of mitigation measures on a road that would connect the two geothermal fields (through an area of high importance for biological connectivity) and would receive an increase in traffic. Similar plans should be applied to other private projects involving construction, expansion, improvements or increased traffic, in order to identify potential impacts and reduce them through variations in the design and implementation of specific wildlife mitigation measures.