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Sedimentation in Mangrove Forests in Smara, Costa Rica

Photo by Erin Armstrong.

Erin Armstrong, Elizabeth Degnall, Ricardo Obasare and Emily Scott- Solomon Worcester Polytechnic Institute 12/16/2010

Sedimentation in Mangrove Forests in Smara, Costa Rica

An Interactive Qualifying Project Submitted to the Faculty of WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Science By: Erin Armstrong Elizabeth Degnall Ricardo Obasare Emily Scott-Solomon

Date: 16 December 2010

Report Submitted To: Sr. Konrad Sauter and Sra. Lily Sevilla Berlitz Language Company

Professors Jennifer Rudolph and Stanley Selkow Worcester Polytechnic Institute i

The town of Smara, Costa Rica has experienced sedimentation which affects mangroves in the Mala Noche Estuary. Our project goal, sponsored by Seor Konrad Sauter, was to provide a foundation for future restoration. This was accomplished by assessing the environmental problems and identifying remediation methods. Our results demonstrated a need for physical restoration methods and community education on the importance of mangroves. Returning the estuary to a healthy state requires a long-term plan which instills strong individual environmental concern.


Our team would like to first thank our sponsors, Sr. Konrad Sauter and Sra. Lily Sevilla for all their help and support throughout the duration of our project. Without them, the idea for this project would not exist. Additionally, we would like to thank our professors, Dr. Jennifer Rudolph, Dr. Stanley Selkow and Dr. Ingrid Shockey for pushing us to do our best and for their continual support throughout the process. For their willingness to share their knowledge and expertise on mangroves, estuaries and sedimentation, we would like to extend our thanks to Dr. Jeffery Crooks and Dr. Jos Antonio Vargas. We also appreciate the time spent by Berit Funke, Sara Arrand, members of ASADA of Smara and the director of the Liceo Rural Smara School in giving us a better understanding of the specific problems facing Smara. Additionally, we would like to thank Ligia Umaa, Alexander Gonzalz and Dr. Bernando Aguilar of Fundacin Neotropica for sharing their expertise on important topics to consider for future restoration projects. We are very grateful to these individuals for their contributions, which greatly assisted us in shaping the direction of our project. For their kindness and hospitality while we were in Smara, we would like to thank Sr. Konrad Sauter and his family, Berit Funke, Sara Arrand, Alvaro Teran, Elena, Bejos and Luba. Their kindness and willingness helped to make our fieldwork successful and our stay more comfortable. Finally, we would like to extend our thanks to everyone at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and the Costa Rica Project Site that made this experience possible.


Executive Summary
Recently, the industrialization of countries throughout the world has fueled an ongoing conflict between environmental protection and rapid development. In Smara, Costa Rica, the surrounding communities engage in practices that greatly harm the nearby Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves. This damage stems, in part, from this strong drive to develop, which threatens not only the health of the local estuarine environments, but also the people of Smara.

Uses of the Mala Noche River Estuary

The Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves provide many services to nearby communities. Because mangrove roots have a natural affinity for sediment binding, they simultaneously prevent coastal erosion and trap nutrients for utilization by other organisms within an ecosystem (Ellison, 1999). This system allows flora and fauna to thrive, attracting tourists and bringing significant economic benefits to the community. Similarly, the unique plant diversity within a mangrove habitat also acts as an attraction for tourists. In addition to these economic services, the Mala Noche River provides a considerable portion of the water that feeds the aquifer (a natural underground accumulation of freshwater) for the area. If the river dries up, the amount of drinking water available to the community would drastically fall. Therefore, a steady growth in tourism, and the development that often accompanies it, may result in significant pressure on the communitys water resources. In spite of the numerous benefits of the Mala Noche Estuary, the inhabitants of Smara employ several practices that harm the surrounding ecosystem. In one such practice, community members dump waste and construction material into the river as a means of disposal. Locals also clear cut the mangroves in order to create land lots to sell, and extract both flora and large stones for construction usage. These practices are illegal because all mangroves are protected under law. Nonetheless, they occur in part due to a lack of education about the importance of local environments and the lack of law enforcement. Additionally, within the community there is a prevalent mindset that mangroves are unaesthetic, and block development in the area. It is essential to take steps to conserve the Mala Noche River estuary and to ensure that human impact on the estuary lessens in the future. Although there are many issues compromising the health of the Mala Noche River, one of the main concerns is sedimentation. Sedimentation, here, is defined as the accumulation of sediment (clay, gravel, sand, silt etc.) within a body of water. Excess sediment can bury the roots of mangroves, killing the trees. Once the mangroves die, the rest of the estuarine ecosystem will quickly follow. In Smara, the two main forms of sedimentation are gravel and clay sediment. iv

According to local residents, this sedimentation is recent, appearing within the last five-ten years. We hypothesized that the gravel sediment results mainly from construction debris and that the clay sediment is a consequence of the teak plantation upstream of the Mala Noche River. Because the sediment has appeared at such a rapid rate, and has caused a great deal of damage to the estuary and mangroves, there is a need for remediation before the situation becomes irreversible.

A Three Pronged Approach to Evaluating the Situation

By addressing the many factors that contributed to the decline of the Mala Noche River mangrove forest, we aimed to lay the foundation for future restoration. We defined three major objectives to accomplish this goal: 1. To perform a preliminary assessment 2. To conduct a problem assessment 3. To develop a community outreach program In conducting our preliminary assessment, we gathered information from a variety of case studies, print, and internet sources and conducted interviews with local and field experts to gain insight into both technical and contextual aspects of the situation. We also visually documented and observed the Mala Noche River estuary to familiarize ourselves with the area. We focused on the specific environmental problem by employing a combination of research, visual documentation, and interviews. These techniques allowed us to evaluate the pollution and sedimentation present in the Mala Noche River and helped to identify both possible sources of the sediment and its impact upon the community and environment. For our final objective, we developed a framework for an environmental education program in the town of Smara. Through interviews with a local school teacher on the current educational curriculum, we gauged the level of interest in this program. We also determined the most suitable methods for environmental education in a rural setting through research and interviews.

A Need for Joint Restoration and Education

Before accomplishing our objectives, we needed to first define the parameters of a healthy estuary and mangrove forest. Through interviews with estuarine experts, such as Dr. Jos Antonio Vargas, a professor at the University of Costa Rica, we defined a healthy estuary as having a high species diversity, established food webs and at least three trophic levels (a tropic level is a group of organisms at the same level in the food chain), amongst other factors. Similarly, we defined a healthy mangrove forest as one that has access to both salt and fresh water, with roots that are able

to properly receive water and nutrients. We also determined that mangroves require a certain level of natural sediment from which to extract nutrients. However, a healthy level of sedimentation is between 0.5 and 1 cm/yr. Anything above this rate is considered to be in excess (Ellison, 1999). We used these definitions to establish a base line with which to compare the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves. Through the initial assessment and problem assessment, we determined that there were many factors affecting the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves. Despite this wide range of issues, we focused upon the impacts of clay and gravel sedimentation on the estuary. In our initial visits onsite, we documented gravel sediment in the estuary and on the surrounding beach. Through observation and interviews, we hypothesized that this sediment was dumped in the river as construction debris. Similarly, we also documented a large amount of clay sediment in the mouth of the river, and about 30 meters upstream. After further inspecting the area and conducting interviews, we determined that the most likely source of the clay sediment was a teak planation upstream of the Mala Noche River, which covered several steep hillsides. Due to the elevated levels of gravel and clay sediment, much of the water in the river has taken alternate routes around the sediment banks, resulting in riverbank erosion. Additionally, because the excess sediment has inhibited water flow, many mangroves have died as a result of root burial. Finally, to exacerbate the situation, a private company diverted several of the streams that feed the Mala Noche River to provide a hotel with an artificial lake. The diverted water and high sediment levels have resulted in a destroyed estuary with minimal water flow.

In order to combat the clay and gravel sediment entering the Mala Noche River estuary, we recommend the employment of a combination of restoration techniques, including dredging, sediment basins and wetland restoration. Additionally, to address educational gaps in Smara concerning the importance of estuaries and mangroves, we recommend the development of environmental education programs. To ensure that there is proper exchange of salt and fresh water, the mouth of the river should be dredged. Similarly, we recommend that the large deposit of sediment 30 meters upstream of the mouth of the river also be dredged. If fresh and saltwater cannot be exchanged, the mangroves within the estuary will not have access to oxygen. Therefore, it is vital to remove the sediment blocking water flow at the mouth of vi

the estuary. In addition, the accumulation of sediment 30 meters upstream of the mouth of the river needs to be removed because it has forced the river to carve an alternate path, resulting in erosion of riverbanks. However, because dredging can have detrimental consequences to the surrounding ecosystems and to the only potable water source in the area, restoration teams must take great care when planning the dredging restoration process. To reduce the amount of gravel and clay sediment reaching the estuary, sediment basins should be installed. Additionally, to address fine clay sediment, we recommend simultaneous wetland restoration. Because sediment basins are ideal for gravel sediment and large chunks of clay, the installation of a sediment basin would greatly reduce the amount of sediment reaching the estuary. However, drawbacks to this method include the need to maintain the basin and the fact that it is only a short term measure. Coupling wetland restoration with the implementation of a sediment basin will help to increase water flow to the area, which in turn will help to flush out finer sediment. Again, in order to employ these methods, basin and wetland restoration experts should be consulted. We believe that in combination, dredging, sediment basins and wetland restoration will help to greatly reduce the amount of sediment reaching the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves. To educate the Smara community about the importance of the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves, we recommend the development of an environmental education plan that targets school children, educators and general community. To help accomplish this goal, we created an education supplement that summarizes possible education techniques. This supplement focuses mainly upon education of schoolchildren, with the principle that educating the towns youth will lead to further intergenerational (child to parent) and intercommunity learning. However, we also recognize that both educators and the community as a whole need to be educated if their mindset towards estuaries and mangroves is to change.


Although we recognize that the steps taken in this project will not solve the deterioration of the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves, we hope to establish a framework for future studies. It is our hope that, through our recommendations and other future projects, the estuary will return to a healthy state, and the community will better understand the importance of their local ecosystems.


Authorship Page
This report was a collaborative effort between all team members. We each contributed to the initial writing and final editing of all chapters within the paper, with each person specializing in certain subjects. Erin Armstrong focused upon mangroves, sedimentation, and the correlation between the two. Elizabeth Degnall concentrated on the laws surrounding environmental conservation and documents received onsite. Ricardo Obasare researched the mindset of the Costa Rican population and how their perceptions have affected the legal framework of environmental protection. Finally, Emily Scott-Solomon specialized in physical restoration methods and educational techniques.


Table of Figures
Figure 2-1. Sediment Basin.13 Figure 3-1. Surveying Sediment..23 Figure 4-1. Mala Noche River Map.29 Figure 4-2. Wells in Aquifer30 Figure 4-3. Burn Pile32 Figure 4-4. Burning Trash Pile..33 Figure 4-5. Playa Smara..36 Figure 4-6. Clay and Gravel Sediment..37 Figure 4-7. Destruction of Hill...37 Figure 4-8. Clay Sediment.38 Figure 4-9. Diversion of the Mala Noche River38 Figure 4-10. Clay Sediment for Estuary and Hill39 Figure 4-11. Teak Leaf39 Figure 4-12. Understory Growth in the Teak Plantation.40 Figure 4-13. Diverting Water by Pipes41 Figure 4-14. Mangrove Mortality in Estuary42 Figure 4-15. Mala Noche River Banks..43 Figure B-1. Change in course of the Mala Noche River over a period of several year69

Table of Contents
Abstract .................................................................................................................................................... ii Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................. iii Executive Summary ............................................................................................................................. iv
Uses of the Mala Noche River Estuary ...................................................................................................................... iv A Three Pronged Approach to Evaluating the Situation...................................................................................... v A Need for Joint Restoration and Education............................................................................................................. v Recommendations............................................................................................................................................................. vi

Authorship Page ................................................................................................................................... ix Table of Figures ...................................................................................................................................... x Chapter One: Introduction ................................................................................................................. 1 Chapter Two: Background and Literature Review .................................................................... 4
2.1: A Brief History of Eco-Tourism in Costa Rica ................................................................................................. 4 2.2: Environmental Problems Facing Smara, Costa Rica ................................................................................. 7 2.3: The Mala Noche River Estuary: What is an Estuary? .................................................................................. 8 2.3.1: Mangroves ............................................................................................................................................................ 8 2.3.2: Impact of Sedimentation ................................................................................................................................ 9 2.4: Sedimentation Remediation Techniques ....................................................................................................... 11 2.4.1 Sediment Basins ................................................................................................................................................ 12 2.4.2 Wetland Restoration........................................................................................................................................ 13 2.4.3 Dredging ............................................................................................................................................................... 14 2.5.1: Case Study: Developing a Successful Restoration Program through Community Involvement ................................................................................................................................................................... 16 2.5.2: Case Study: Using Community-Based Education to Save the Scarlet Macaw ......................... 17 2.5.3: Case Study: Long-Term Responses to Excess Sedimentation ....................................................... 18 2.6: Conclusion................................................................................................................................................................... 20

Chapter Three: Methodology .......................................................................................................... 21

3.1: Preliminary Assessment ....................................................................................................................................... 21 3.2: Problem Assessment .............................................................................................................................................. 23 xi

3.3: Community Outreach: An Educational Supplement .................................................................................. 24 3.4: Justification of Research Methods ..................................................................................................................... 25 3.5: Future Efforts in the Mala Noche River .......................................................................................................... 26

Chapter Four: Evaluating Sedimentation and Community Awareness in Smara ....... 27

4.1: Defining the Health of Environments .............................................................................................................. 27 4.2: Initial assessment of the Mala Noche River and Key Observations on the Community ............. 28 4.2.1: Utilization of Resources in the Mala Noche Sector ............................................................................ 30 4.2.2: Community Perspective ................................................................................................................................ 34 4.3: Problem Assessment in the Mala Noche River ............................................................................................ 36 4.3.1: Initial Visits to the Area................................................................................................................................. 36 4.3.2: Impact on Outlying Ecosystems and the Community ....................................................................... 42 4.4: Development of an Education Curriculum .................................................................................................... 45 4.5: Conclusion................................................................................................................................................................... 48

Chapter Five: A Participatory and Restorative Approach to Sedimentation Mitigation ................................................................................................................................................................... 49

5.1: Dredging ...................................................................................................................................................................... 49 5.2: Sediment Basin.......................................................................................................................................................... 50 5.3: Wetland Restoration ............................................................................................................................................... 51 5.4: Education..................................................................................................................................................................... 52 5.5: Future Areas for Exploration .............................................................................................................................. 53

References ............................................................................................................................................. 56 Figure Citations .................................................................................................................................... 61 Appendix A ............................................................................................................................................ 62 Appendix B ............................................................................................................................................ 69


Chapter One: Introduction

In the past few decades, the industrialization of countries throughout the world has resulted in an ongoing conflict between environmental protection and rapid development. This clash has not come as a surprise, due to the ever growing human population and their increased ability to travel. These changes have led to an increased demand for land usage and an encroachment upon territories that hold fragile or unique ecosystems. In Costa Rica alone, many examples of environmental deterioration exist as a result of human expansion and development. A marked increase in the number of hotels built throughout the country occurred due to a substantial increase in tourism (Mata, 2004). Attracted by the prospect of economic gain, foreign investors built several hotels near coastlines, endangering the local environments (Honey, 2008). In fact, many towns have experienced land filling of mangrove forests in order to make room for different businesses relating to the tourism industry (Jimenez, 2004). In most of these cases, construction was carried out with little concern for the impacts on the environment. An example of this conflict surfaced in the town of Smara, Costa Rica, where the desire to develop the town has led the community to adopt practices that negatively affect the local mangrove population. These practices have also caused other environmental problems for the nearby Mala Noche River estuary. For this project, our main point of contact was Seor Konrad Sauter, a local environmental activist. Having lived and visited the area throughout his life, he holds a particular interest in the health of the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves. According to Seor Sauter, debris resulting from development in or near the community of Smara was recently dumped into the Mala Noche River. This debris has since travelled downstream from its point of entry to the mouth of estuary. Additionally, excess sediment has begun to disturb the local mangrove forest, negatively influencing ecosystems and marine communities dependent on them. Through our communication with a local expert and member of Asociaciones Administradores de Acueductos or ASADA within Smara (the local Water Board), we have also determined that the local community uses the estuary to fish, bathe, cut trees and extract flora and fauna. These activities occur despite the classification of mangroves and estuaries as protected zones under Costa Rican law (Ley sobre la zona Maritimo Terrestre, 1977). Therefore, we aimed to both conserve the mangroves within the estuary and ensure that the community can carry out its necessary functions, including achieving its developmental goals. A great deal of research exists concerning how mangroves contribute to local ecosystems, how sedimentation affects mangroves, and how Costa Ricans view conservation. Through our research, we determined that mangroves contribute positively to their ecosystems in many ways.

For example, mangrove roots help to aerate soil and provide essential nutrients to other organisms by trapping nutrient-filled sediment with their roots (Ellison, 1999). Similarly, mangroves are so highly intertwined with the species around them that their survival can determine the survival of other ecosystems (Carmichael et al., 2009). Our research suggests that although natural levels of sedimentation are essential for the survival of mangroves, exposure to excess sedimentation buries their roots, potentially resulting in their death (Ellison, 1999). If mangroves die, it can be assumed that all species dependent upon them will be negatively affected. Therefore, to protect the vitality of estuarine environments containing mangroves, the mangroves need to be conserved. Although Costa Rican residents are environmentally conscious, our research suggests their priorities lie in providing for themselves and their families (Holl et al., 1995; K. Sauter, personal communication, October 27, 2010). These opposing priorities have led to the conflict between development and environmental conservation in the town of Smara. Although researchers have extensively studied the effects of sedimentation on mangroves, little is known about the specific situation in the Mala Noche River estuary. Therefore, our aim was to evaluate the situation, and determine if sedimentation was leading to a deterioration of the mangrove population. In addition, our research suggests that Costa Ricans are generally environmentally conscious, but only up to a certain point. This is further corroborated by Sr. Konrad Sauter who explained that the people of Smara are generally not aware of how the estuary, mangroves, and human community are interconnected. Through our study, we intended to develop an environmental education program for the community. This program focused on the connections between their actions and the mangrove forests survival. To address the many factors contributing to the decline of the Mala Noche mangrove forest, we aimed to lay the foundation for future restoration. We defined three major objectives to accomplish our goal: preforming an initial assessment of the situation, evaluating the specific problem causing the decline of the mangrove population, and developing an educational supplement, for the community, about the importance of the estuary and mangroves. In conducting our preliminary assessment, we gathered information from a variety of print and internet sources and conducted interviews with local and field experts to gain insight into both technical and contextual aspects of the situation. We also visually documented and observed the Mala Noche estuary to familiarize ourselves with the area. To focus on the specific environmental problem, we employed a combination of research, visual documentation, and interviews. These techniques allowed us to evaluate the pollution and sedimentation present in the Mala Noche River and to identify the possible sources in addition to its impact upon the community and environment. For 2

our final objective, we aimed to develop a framework for an environmental education program in the town of Smara. Through interviews with a local school teacher on the current educational curriculum, we gauged the level of interest in such a program. We also used research and interviews to determine the most suitable methods for environmental education in a rural setting. In the town of Smara, we encountered a struggle between rapid economic development and sustainable usage of the environment. The growth of industries within the town resulted in practices that harm the growth of mangroves within the Mala Noche River estuary. If these practices continue, the resulting sediment will severely impact the livelihood of ecosystems and ultimately affect the community itself. There is, therefore, a need to educate the community on the workings and importance of the estuary and also to initiate efforts that restore the estuary. For our project, we aimed to establish a foundation for future restoration efforts in Smara, Costa Rica. To accomplish our goal, we first improved our understanding of the situation in Smara. Once this was achieved, we identified the specific problems that have resulted from excess sedimentation and subsequently made recommendations on how to combat this issue through both remediation and education. We hope our findings and recommendations will move Smara closer to reducing the overall impact of development on the environment.

Chapter Two: Background and Literature Review

The recent increase in human development has sparked a heated controversy over the difference between sustainable usage of the land, and exploitation. In Costa Rica, the local population has formed an image of their country as one that appreciates the unexploited treasures of the earth as indicated by their signature logo: No artificial ingredients (Costa Rica Tourism Board, 2010). Although Costa Ricans seemingly define their country by its natural environments, communities still struggle to enforce sustainable development practices.

2.1: A Brief History of Eco-Tourism in Costa Rica

Since the mid-twentieth century, Costa Rica has overcome hurdles with regard to the exploitation and destruction of their natural environment. As with most intangible concepts, there has been some amount of difficulty in arriving at an exact and comprehensive definition of the term conservation. For this project, we define conservation as the active protection of the natural environment against destruction, human or otherwise. Because the notion of conservation spread so quickly in Costa Rica, it is difficult to pinpoint its exact origin. Most likely, strong environmental educational programs throughout the country spread awareness of conservation. This schoolbased curriculum aimed to forge a consciousness necessary for true protection of the environment (Evans, 1999, p. 185; Hidalgo, 2010). This strong emphasis on education led to a widespread commitment to protect the environment. In addition to the important educational foundation in Costa Rica, a legal framework has served to uphold and attempt to enforce the principles of conservation. The legislation dealing with environmental concerns has stemmed in large part from the creation of the Ministry of Environment, Energy, and Telecommunications (MINAE). This agency is responsible for policies dealing with natural resources, energy, mining, and environmental protection (Snchez & Bustamante, 2010). The Organic Environmental act of 1995, a landmark in environmental legislation, created several organizations to enforce laws dealing with environmental transgressions. This law defines the environment as the natural elements that it is composed of, as well as its interactions with humans. Articles 17-21 and 84 - 89 of this law govern Environmental Impact Assessments, which obligates those participating in projects that may alter or impact the environment to submit their proposals to review by the National Environmental Technical Secretariat, SETENA (Hidalgo, 2010). There are several other laws that play a vital role in environmental conservation, including the Maritime Zone Law and the Forest Law, which set up clearly defined rules concerning the protection of both rivers and other endangered environments. The former law states that the protected zone around rivers and streams span 200 meters from the 4

normal high tide line while the latter prohibits the exploitation or cutting of protected forests, mangroves, and reserves (Aguitar, & Ching, 2001). The laws designed by government agencies to preserve biodiversity in Costa Rica paved the way for an early expansion of what is now the countrys eco-tourism industry (Evans, 1999). According to Martha Honey (2008), ecotourism is defined as the practice, of low impact educational, and ecological and culturally sensitive travel that benefits local communities and the host country (p. 71). During the 1990s, the Costa Rican government made a conscious decision to invest in its eco-tourism sector. They correctly anticipated the advantages that lay in showcasing the natural environment of Costa Rica. This approach has been well-substantiated, as Costa Rica currently ranks 3rd in the world in terms of environmental practices based on the Environmental Protection Index. This index is an annual study that ranks countries based on several factors to determine a countrys overall environmental health (Emerson et al., 2010). Initially, this shift to focus on tourism led to a growth in domestic tourists; however, gradually, there grew a steady influx of tourists from North and Central America. An additional factor in this economic boom occurred when the then President, Oscar Arias Sanchez, received the Noble Prize for peace in 1987. This sealed Costa Ricas brand as a safe and stable tourism destination (Evans, 1999; Honey, 2008). The growth of tourism, although economically beneficial, began to overshadow environmental considerations. An interesting quote by Yanina Rovinski highlights the shift in the way the tourism industry advertised themselves: When Costa Ricans want to sell something, they paint it green (Evans, 1999, p. 218). This view is supported by the fact that by 1988, tourism had risen to become the 3rd largest industry in the country, and by 1993 it accounted for roughly 20 percent of the countrys foreign income (Evans, 1999; Honey, 2008). Due to this substantial growth in tourism, the Nicoya area, and Costa Rica as a whole, experienced an increase in the number of hotels built (Mata, 2004). Foreign investors built several hotels near coastlines without concern for the implications to the environment (Honey, 2008). The growth of tourism has often come at the cost of the environment despite its eco billing, and has impacted the health of natural features such as mangroves. According to Jorge Jimenez (2004), the land filling of mangroves in Smara, Conchal and Playa Grande is an example of this destructive process (p. 140). Although there are many laws that aim to directly prevent mangrove destruction (i.e. the Coastal-Maritime Law 1977, the Wildlife Law 1992 and the Environmental Law 1995), the pressure to develop often overshadows legislation if enforcement is inadequate (Jimenez, 2004). Significant data suggests that the laws concerning construction near coastal lines are not adequately enforced. Only 7% of the coasts in Costa Rica have plans to regulate environmental 5

conservation (Evans, 1999). There are several examples supporting the fact that some coastal hotel chains are not concerned about their impact on the environment (Evans, 1999). For example, Martha Honey, co-founder and co-director of the Center on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development in Washington D.C., points out several instances where hotel resorts have operated with little or no regard for the environment. These activities have tainted, to some extent, the image of Costa Rica. For instance, the governmental support for the Tambor Hotel culminated in Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) defacto head Luis Manuel Chacon receiving the 1993 Environmental Devil award. The construction of the Tambor Hotel was a highly destructive project, and was frowned upon by many environmentalists. This award was presented to Sr. Chacon to represent Costa Ricas supposed environmental hypocrisy (Honey, 2008). Similarly, Roxanna Salazar concludes that although Costa Rica is, without a doubt, focused on environmental issues, there needs to be a stronger push by the government to ensure compliance with the environmental laws. In her recommendations, she also added that citizens should play a greater role in the conservation process. Her stance emphasizes public education as essential if Costa Rica is to truly protect its environment. Additionally, she recommends that sanctions should be enforced if laws are not followed (Salazar, 2004). Although there have been several efforts to combat environmental problems from a governmental level, there needs to be a greater sense of individual responsibility. Chris Willis comments that Eco Tourism has helped to create the self-image of Costa Ricans, it is their selfidentity (Honey, 2010, p. 161). This means that the countrys focus on eco-tourism has become an integral part of how Costa Ricans view themselves. In a 1995 study entitled Knowledge and Perceptions in Costa Rica Regarding Environment, Population, and Biodiversity Issues, the authors look at Costa Ricans understanding of the environmental issues around them. In this survey, they asked respondents to arrange in order, from a list, the major problems facing the country; the environment ranked 7th; only 22% of the respondents cited the environment as one of the top 3 problems. When asked about specific environmental issues, many respondents recited deforestation, garbage and air pollution as amongst their major concerns. When asked about the major reasons causing these problems, lack of environmental education, industry, and attitude of population ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Furthermore, respondents indicated that they thought environmental problems were a larger issue outside of Costa Rica (Holl et al., 1995). Although this data is not all-inclusive, it does suggest that while Costa Ricans do demonstrate awareness of environmental issues, they do not think that the environment is a cause for major concern. 6

2.2: Environmental Problems Facing Smara, Costa Rica

A prime example of a town that relies heavily on the tourism industry is Smara, Costa Rica. Located on the Nicoya Peninsula, tourists visit Smara, a town of only 1500 inhabitants, for its natural beauty and beach (Arnez et al., 2005). As a result an influx of tourists, the town now acquires almost all of its income from both domestic and foreign visitors, and is therefore highly dependent upon tourism as its means for continued development (K. Sauter, personal communication, October 27, 2010). In fact, the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT), declared this town as a primary tourism center, according to 2005 statistics (Arnez et al., 2005). Unfortunately, as Smara has become more developed, the environment has been adversely affected in some areas. In this section, we will discuss the location of Smara in relation to other towns and the two major rivers in the area, as well as how the local environment has been negatively impacted by development. Smara lies near the towns of El Torito and Matapalo and is part of the Guanacaste province. Although Smaras main source of income is tourism, its economy is also supported through the fishing and agriculture industries (K. Sauter, personal communication, October 27, 2010). In Smara, there are two major estuaries, which belong to the Lagarto and the Mala Noche Rivers. Both estuaries support a variety of organisms, including species of mangroves. River. The economic practices of Smara both indirectly and directly contribute to environmental problems in the surrounding ecosystems and communities. The communities within Smara, as well as El Torito and Matapalo, pollute the Mala Noche River with municipal waste and construction debris. While the effects are not visible in the towns, downstream, the waste collects in the Mala Noche Rivers estuary. The waste then becomes a threat to the species in the estuary. It also poses a contamination hazard to the aquifer the community depends on for water. The citizens of Smara, therefore, unwittingly contribute to the environmental decline of areas they depend on for resources and income (Member of ASADA, personal communication, October 11, 2010). In addition, an aquifer responsible for the purification of Smaras drinking water lies underneath the Mala Noche

2.3: The Mala Noche River Estuary: What is an Estuary?

An estuary is a highly biologically active ecosystem where freshwater and saltwater mix. The uniqueness of this environment provides a home to inimitable flora and fauna that would otherwise be unable to survive in less specialized habitats. The physical, biological and chemical attributes of an estuary are influenced by an enormous number of factors, including but not limited to depth, surface area, restriction of tidal flow and the quantity of matter dissolved within it (Kennish et al., 2008, p. 189). As a waterway, an estuary can be divided into three separate regions: a tidal river zone, a mixing zone, and a near-shore turbid zone. As an ecosystem, however, an estuary is considerably more complex. The numerous fish species that live within it often spawn offshore, migrating inshore only when reaching a larval or juvenile stage in their life cycle. These species use the estuary as a source of food as well as a place of sanctuary, thereby increasing their chances of survival. Additionally, the benthic community (organisms that live on the riverbed) of an estuary contributes to increased plant life, which greatly adds to the diversity of these ecosystems (Kennish et al., 2008).

2.3.1: Mangroves Mangroves forests, also known as mangal, are commonly found throughout tropical regions of the world, often in tidal areas such as estuaries (Ellison, 1999). On the Costa Rican Pacific coast, mangroves of the Nicoya Peninsula comprise more than 75 percent of the biomass that exists there (Mata & Vargas, 2004). In Costa Rica, mangrove forests can be found on both Pacific and Caribbean coasts and constitute 7% of the countrys forest cover (Jimenez, 2004). As of the early 1990s, the approximate surface area of mangroves worldwide was estimated to be 100,000 km2 to 240,000 km2. However, because most mangroves are located in developing countries, such as Costa Rica, where statistics are difficult to acquire, these numbers may be inaccurate (Dodd & Ong, 2008; United States of America State Department, 2009). Peter J. Mumby, a marine ecologist, estimated that there has been a global loss of approximately 35% of all mangrove forests over the past two decades. This environmental loss exceeds even that of the tropical rainforests and the coral reefs separately, bringing into question why more publicity has not been given to this ecosystem (Mumby et al., 2004). Mangroves are highly interconnected and affect a broad range of ecosystems. Therefore, it is understandable that disturbances to mangroves will consequently affect both ecosystems around them and species dependent upon them (Carmichael et al., 2009). Mangrove forests provide a unique ecosystem that helps to support fish, birds and other wildlife. In fact, the mangal of the 8

Nicoya Peninsula supports more than 50 species of crab, 124 species of mollusks and 125 species of fish. The diversity of this ecosystem helps to sustain the livelihood of over 200,000 people in the area who are dependent on fishing (Jimenez, 2004). In addition to the support that mangal provide to species in an estuarine ecosystem, they also offer other beneficial functions. For example, this ecosystem supports the surrounding environments by significantly reducing coastal erosion (Ellison, 2000). This is because mangroves aerial roots have a natural affinity for sediment binding. Similarly, mangroves trees roots help to slow the velocity of the water, allowing for better settling of sediment (Ellison, 1999). This trapped sediment, when at natural levels, can provide necessary nutrients to the organisms in the local ecosystem.

2.3.2: Impact of Sedimentation Sedimentation is the accumulation of sediment (clay, gravel, silt, sand etc.) in a river, lake or other marine environment. Generally, unnatural sedimentation has a negative effect on the health of mangrove trees. Unnatural sedimentation in estuaries typically comes from construction sites and agricultural runoff (Chou, Ong, & Todd, 2010). On average, mangrove forests worldwide retain a natural level of sedimentation at a rate of 0.5 to 1 cm per year. Anything above this rate is considered to be an unnatural rate of sedimentation (Ellison, 1999). Sedimentation becomes harmful to mangroves when portions of their roots become buried. When this occurs, there is less gaseous exchange between the roots and the water that surrounds them, thereby lessening the ability of the trees to respire and preventing an important physiological process. In addition, excess sediment prevents adequate light from reaching the mangrove roots (Chou et al., 2010). As stated by J.C. Ellison (1999), there are numerous accounts of sedimentation as a result of human disturbance causing problems in mangroves, but generally few quantitative details (p. 421). The lack of quantitative details reflects a gap in the current knowledge on how sedimentation affects mangroves. Moreover, the accumulation of sediment harms mangroves if it impedes the tidal system on which they depend for vital nutrients. Without the tide bringing in nutrients and removing harmful excess sediment, the health of the mangrove forests declines. A.M. Ellison (2000), a Harvard University professor specializing in wetland ecology, finds that when sedimentation obstructs the tidal flow of an estuarine environment, restor[ing] tidal fluctuations and flushing to impounded costal systems where mangroves could subsequently flourish, presents the most reasonable option (p. 225). He explains that planting mangroves in an area with a hampered tidal system will not be successful because they are dependent upon tidal flow to survive. 9

While the effect of sedimentation on mangroves is of grave concern, the effect of sedimentation on the surrounding ecosystems is also extremely important. Because sedimentation affects all organisms differently, it can greatly alter ecosystems by killing off some species while allowing others to thrive. In fact, sedimentation often results in the introduction of invasive species that are able to flourish in the newly introduced environment (Chou et al., 2010). Similarly, sedimentation can eliminate certain native species in an area entirely. Ollivier & Welsh describe how road construction in California caused a large outflow of quick, accidental sedimentation in a nearby stream, which subsequently affected the local lizard and amphibian populations (1998). Not surprisingly, the populations of the three types of lizards studied (Tailed Frogs, Pacific Giant Salamanders and Southern Torrent Salamanders) were considerably lower in rivers that were affected by the sedimentation than in rivers in the area that were not affected (Ollivier & Welsh, 1998). If mangrove forests are destroyed, the goods and services available to the local communities are also reduced (Claudet & Fraschetti, 2010, pg. 2196). The phrase goods and services here refers to the economic benefits that eco-tourism brings a community. Interestingly, as development fuels the destruction of mangrove forests, this destruction, in some ways, alters development in the long run (Claudet & Fraschetti, 2010). Mangrove forests are a significant draw for ecotourism; if they are destroyed to build new hotels, some speculate that this may deter tourists from visiting these hotels in the future (Ellison, 2000). Therefore, a challenge exists when trying to achieve both conservation efforts and economic development. In conclusion, the livelihood of mangroves is interconnected with the survival of the estuarine ecosystem of which they are part. Because mangroves are significantly affected by excess sedimentation, sedimentation could ultimately result in the deterioration of an estuary. This would lead to various consequences for the local community, such as a decrease in the fish populations that use the estuary as a nursery and a potentially contaminated aquifer. For these reasons, it is important to determine if the sediment in Smara, Costa Rica is damaging the local estuary. If it is, it will be important to develop a plan for restoration.


2.4: Sedimentation Remediation Techniques

In the Mala Noche Rivers estuary and mangroves, environmental restoration techniques may be required to reduce environmental stresses. A comprehensive restoration project of this area would need to address physical harm such as excess sediment, debris, and chemical pollution, amongst other issues. In addition, such a restoration project would possibly entail reintroducing native species. For this project, we focused on exploring methods that would reduce excess, harmful sedimentation, if present. These methods account for ways to decrease sediment currently in the system and sediment that may enter the system in the future. Because environmental problems are complex, they involve a great number of variables. Therefore, no universal set of restoration methods can be applied to all sedimentation problems. Instead, restoration techniques must be developed to address the unique situation presented by a particular site. Restoration is defined as, returning an ecosystem to a close approximation of its condition prior to disturbance (National Research Council, 1992, p.2). In addition, restoration should allow ecosystems, to recover dynamic equilibrium and function at a self -sustaining level after the removal of these disturbances (FISRWG, 1998, p. I-3). However, the natural variability of ecological communities makes it challenging to ascertain which disturbances are unnatural (Palmer, Ambrose, & Poff, 1997). Palmer et al. (1997) proposes evaluating restoration efforts by looking at an ecosystem, in regional contexts or historical contexts (p. 293). In other words, interviewing local communities and reviewing old maps and articles can help identify changes that have occurred in recent years and other potential areas of concern. Landscape ecology also provides a valuable resource, since it considers both living and nonliving factors from local geography. Restoration projects also suffer from the inability to fully meet the needs of resident species (species living in the ecosystems); they can only address the immediate area, which may not include an animals full territory or range (National Research Council, 1992). Finally, in order to increase chances of success, there needs to be involvement from surrounding communities (Rutherfurd, Jerie, & Marsh, 2000). Essentially, any suggestion for restoration methods requires that we understand the full extent of the problem and then suggest a solution that addresses any major issues. Despite the many ambiguous variables, successful restoration projects exist. Generally, certain characteristics define a successful implementation of a restoration project. These include the central responsibility for the project residing with a sole person; the team or organization involved in restoration fully understanding the plan and design of the project and being familiar with the areas ecological and physical structure; familiarity with the laws and regulations for the


location of the restoration project, which ensures the project complies with governmental organizations; and finally, a high level of communication existing between all parties involved in the restoration project (FISRWG, 1998). Our project will aim to follow this structure so as to create a successful restoration plan. Each restoration project has unique concerns and therefore, the same remediation method cannot be used in every project. In our case, the main concern being addressed is sedimentation. A variety of methods are available for rectifying excess sedimentation in aquatic ecosystems. Upon the recommendation of Dr. Jeffery Crooks, the research coordinator of the Tijuana River restoration project in California, we explored sediment basins, wetland construction, and dredging, which are all methods to reduce sediment (personal communication, October 7, 2010). 2.4.1 Sediment Basins

Figure 2-1. Sediment Basin. Diagram for the design of a sediment basin for a stream during restoration (Adams et al., 1999). A sediment basin is a temporary drainage way, which branches off a stream or river to reduce the inflow of sediment and pollution (as seen in Figure 2-1). When reduction of erosion at its source is unfeasible, sediment basins provide the next best alternative for stream and river rehabilitation (Rutherfurd et al., 2000). While construction sites usually employ sediment basins to reduce runoff, they can also be used at the outlets of disturbed watersheds between 5 and 75 acres. Excavation or construction of embankments to create sediment basins occurs in areas that will intercept a large amount of runoff. In addition, the basin should be located in a low, flat area that can be easily accessed for general maintenance such as sediment removal. A dike, temporary 12

channel, or pipe diverts part of the water flow to the basin (CASQA, 2003). Next, a barrier or a dam within the basin captures sediment before the drainage way re-merges with the body of water (FISRWG, 1998). A properly designed basin can trap 70-80 % of sediment when combined with diversion dikes. However, the design has to include features to hold sediment overflow during heavy rainfall (CASQA, 2003). Furthermore, a basin requires enough area to meet the restoration projects needs. As a general assumption, a basin needs a volume of 3,600 cubic feet (102 cubic meters) for every acre contributing to the elevated levels of erosion (CASQA, 2003). An example of how large some basins can get, researchers trying to restore the Tijauna River estuary, in California, use sediment basins with a volume of 60,000 cubic yards (J. Crooks, personal communication, December 7, 2010). While sediment basins reduce the inflow of sediment into water systems, they have several flaws. Sediment basins are efficient at collecting sand and gravel, but less successful at filtering silt, clay, and finer sediments from the water (FISRWG, 1998; CASQA, 2003). However, they provide a means for filtering trash out of water systems. For continued use, these basins require dredging or other means of emptying. Otherwise, when the basin completely fills with sediment, vegetation can be reintroduced to the area (FISRWG, 1998). Sediment basins are also expensive to create and maintain (J. Crooks, personal communication, December 7, 2010). On average, basins with a volume of 50,000 cubic feet (1,416 cubic meters) or less cost about $1,200 per drainage acre. A basin greater than 50,000 cubic feet (1,416 cubic meters) costs about $600 per drainage acre on average (CASQA, 2003). In addition, sediment basins cannot control dissolved contaminants such as chemicals. However, a study by Maxted and Shaver suggests wetland construction can potentially reduce this problem (1999). When the point source erosion cannot be reduced, a sediment basin provides a temporary solution and time to resolve the problem. A sediment basin can last between 12 and 28 months when properly maintained (CASQA, 2003). sediment basins may be a viable option for future restoration efforts. 2.4.2 Wetland Restoration We also explored wetland construction as a viable option for restoration efforts. Wetland construction is a method that reintroduces native vegetation, soil, and native microorganisms to an area to improve water quality and reduce sedimentation. Decomposers, such as bacteria and fungi, break down organic matter into carbon dioxide and water while reducing oxygen levels. In turn, plants return oxygen to the aquatic system, restoring the necessary balance of oxygen levels within the ecosystem. In addition, plants can utilize excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), reducing eutrophication (excess nutrients in the soil). There are two types of wetland construction: 13 In Smara,

subsurface flow systems and free water surface systems. In a subsurface flow system, water flows beneath the soil level through plant roots, gravel, sand, and crushed rock in order to improve water quality. A free water surface system not only improves water quality by simulating natural wetlands with water flowing above ground, but also creates wetland habitat, which can be used for public education and recreation. This method is generally used to reduce sedimentation flowing into a system from an upstream point, such as agriculture and settlements (EPA, 1993). During wetland reconstruction, a variety of factors must be considered. Characteristics defining different wetlands include: unique biotic conditions, type of hydrologic (water saturated) soil, and duration, flow, amount, and frequency of water (IWWR, 2003, p. 2). I n addition, water flow is especially important for restoring mangroves, which rely on the submersion of their roots in tidal waters. A design plan for wetland reconstruction or construction must consider these characteristics as well as the plant composition of similar wetlands in the area. For sites, which used to be wetlands, the factors preventing ecological succession must be determined, and, if necessary, addressed (Lewis, 2009). In addition, the project must also have set goals, such as the resources the wetland will provide. Generally, wetlands provide: fisheries, support for water fowl and other wildlife, high biological productivity, protection of biodiversity, erosion control, flood damage reduction, protection of water quality, recreation, and aesthetic appeal (IWWR, 2003). By combining wetland restoration (either mangrove or other native wetlands) with other restoration methods, sediment input into the Mala Noche River can be flushed with increased water flow. 2.4.3 Dredging Generally, most restoration projects and studies have indicated extraction or dredging as necessary for addressing sedimentation containing large particles. Before implementation of dredging, careful research and planning must be carried out on the area to determine land practices around the restoration site. This could bring environmental concerns from present or past land practices to light, such as landfill contamination, oil spills, chemical spills, or agricultural runoff (Nayar, Miller, Hunt, Goh, & Chou, 2007). Also, dredging disturbs the aquatic floor, which releases pollutants and nutrients that can pose health hazards to ecosystems and human populations (Loher & Wetz, 2003). Excess gravel extraction, however, can be less environmentally damaging than dredging of sand, silt, or fine sediment aquatic floors, since it releases fewer particles into the aquatic environment (J. Crooks, personal communication, October 7, 2010). In addition, not all the sediment needs to be removed. In 1993, massive flooding caused erosion in the Black River Creek in Australia, depositing sand and gravel downstream. Within a year of the event, most of the sand and gravel had been excavated, and the remainder had begun to naturally thin throughout the 14

stream (Erskine, 1996; Rutherfurd et al., 2000). Once the amount of sediment in the estuary and mangroves of the Mala Noche River is estimated, qualified personnel can establish a baseline for the minimum amount to be removed, if necessary. This would reduce the human impact on the environment during restoration.


2.5: Community Involvement in Restoration and Prevention Efforts

In order to have a successful restoration project, studies indicate that strong community involvement is necessary. A community-based approach to restoration efforts integrates stakeholders in the community into the design of the project to ensure relevant solutions that are supported by local residents. The detrimental impacts upon the environment in Smara can be traced in part to gaps in education, such as the inability to correlate actions with ecological loss and the importance of this ecological loss. Such an approach can therefore help to educate the Education and involvement concerning the community on local ecological problems while involving them in planning for a future solution to a problem which directly affects their livelihoods. solution is especially important since much of the legislation regulating mangrove and estuary usage remains unenforced in Smara and the key to a long-lasting solution is community support (Member of ASADA, personal communication, October 7th 2010). In this section, we will explore three different case studies which deal with community involvement and possible future restoration techniques. 2.5.1: Case Study: Developing a Successful Restoration Program through Community Involvement In a study conducted by the San Juan Bay Estuary Partnership, a community-based approach was taken to raise awareness surrounding the San Juan Bay Estuary following its evaluation. The San Juan Bay Estuary, located in Puerto Rico, is a semi-enclosed environment surrounded by mangroves and other wetland habitats. A recent surge in the nearby urban population has resulted in a degradation of the systems overall health regardless of the invaluable resources the estuary has provided for the local community. In evaluating this environment, water quality, sediment quality, and the level of contaminants present in fish tissue were all assessed and analyzed individually, resulting in a poor rating for the estuarys overall condition. Of the top environmental problems identified through this evaluation, one of the major concerns was the lack of community participation. The study determined that in order to raise awareness surrounding the estuary and its importance, and in order to bring about changes, it would be necessary to implement an outreach program that both encouraged active community involvement and the development of new research. This program brought about local festivals, teacher training workshops, involvement of the local schools, and a volunteer program; all of these activities helped to increase awareness concerning the estuary and its ecological importance (EPA, 2007). The committee tasked with bringing restoration methods to fruition quickly realized that without public support and participation, the chances of sustainable restoration activities were 16

minimal. As a result of this conclusion, the San Juan Bay Estuary Partnership focused upon developing the necessary outreach program that would include the community in restoration efforts (EPA, 2007). The findings and success of this study underline the importance of community involvement in restoration efforts. With respect to our project, several of the educational techniques employed in San Juan could be considered for use in Smara. Individuals in the community could perform basic evaluations of the estuary and ecosystems in the area to create a storehouse of information to be analyzed. This would permit a better understanding of the mangroves and estuarys dynamics. Furthermore, education concerning current gaps of knowledge in the community would improve future decisions regarding the estuarys use. 2.5.2: Case Study: Using Community-Based Education to Save the Scarlet Macaw Gack, Ray, Solorazano, and Vaughan conducted a study, which investigated the hypothesis that children retain and transfer conservation knowledge gained in the classroom to their parents (2003). This study, which took place in Costa Rica, focused upon children in an elementary school and monitored a one month education program on the conservation and natural history of the Scarlet Macaw. Tests were given as a means to rate the effectiveness of the program as well as the transfer of knowledge on both the intercommunity and intergenerational levels. A test was given to three groups the students, the parents of the students, and an unrelated group of adults (the control group). The test was given at three different time points: before the course, immediately following the end of the course, and 8 months after the course had ended. Both the students and parents showed a significant improvement between the first and second test and between the first and third test. This supports the hypothesis that children can transfer conservation principles to their parents, and that their parents can retain the information. There was no significant improvement for the control group between the first and second test. However, there was a marked improvement (29%) between the first and third test. It is theorized that this improvement may have come about as a result of the spread of knowledge from both the children and their parents to an outside, third party (their community) (Gack et al., 2003). There were several important conclusions drawn over the course of this study. Intergenerational learning or, the transfer of conservation principles between children and adults, is possible and likely, and allows for environmental education programs to continue focusing their attention upon child audiences. The focus upon children in environmental education has come about largely due to their greater interest in the subject and a more easily influenced mindset. Intercommunity learning, the transfer of conservation principles from children and their parents to 17

the community as a whole, has also shown some amount of success. It should be noted that this was a short-term case study, and that a long-term environmental program was concluded to be more effective in terms of the spread of knowledge. Additionally, it was recommended that programs aimed towards increasing community awareness through the local school children should employ frequent field trips with outdoor activities related to nature in order to actually observe what is taught in the classroom. This participation of the public allows for greater interest and understanding, as well as an increased retention and conveyance of the knowledge learned. It is important to note that future studies are necessary in order to determine whether such community participation allows for future practice and involvement in conservation efforts (Gack et al., 2003). For these reasons, in our project, we focused on educational programs that could be incorporated at the school level. 2.5.3: Case Study: Long-Term Responses to Excess Sedimentation In addition to the importance of community involvement in restoration and conservation efforts, the sustainability and feasibility of restoration methods are also highly significant. In Tijuana, Mexico, urbanization has resulted in high levels of sedimentation in a coastal salt marsh, which is located downstream from the site of development. Local restoration efforts for the past twenty years have striven to return the coastal salt marsh to its original state, previous to the rapid development upstream. To deter the effects of sedimentation, a three-pronged approach was taken. This approach included source control, interception of sediment before its entrance into the system, and increasing the ability of the system to deal with sediment. Generally, these approaches would be done in a stepwise manner to best combat the accumulation; however, the speed at which sediment accumulated in this particular system called for a more aggressive approach. Source control was difficult to manage due to the fact that the entrance of sediment and pollutants into the system was caused by development. This resulted in an ethical dilemma, once again, where human development threatened the conservation of the natural environment. As such, other methods were necessary to combat sedimentation. Basins were put in place around the salt marsh in order to collect the sediment before it entered the system. This method, although requiring ongoing maintenance, was found to be effective. Additionally, the ability of the environment to deal with sediment was increased by digging out buried salt marsh and by increasing the width of the river. The situation in Tijuana continues to develop, and sediments from local development continue to enter the system to this day (J. Crooks, personal communication, October 7, 2010). An interesting finding in this study is how the lack of community involvement has impacted restoration efforts. As stated before, the feasibility and sustainability of restoration efforts are 18

highly important to the success of a project. However, it is also important to note that there must be some balance between the methods employed and the amount of community involvement. In Tijuana, a lack of community support has resulted in a situation that has not been resolved, despite the fact that there have been ongoing restoration efforts for twenty years. The continually growing population and need for development upstream seem to be worsening the situation for the foreseeable future, and will require years of ongoing maintenance (J. Crooks, personal communication, October 7, 2010). It is clear, that if any noteworthy progress is to be made in terms of significant restoration to a damaged environment, the local community must be both involved and invested in the outcome of the efforts.


2.6: Conclusion
Costa Rica is one of many countries that struggle between a responsibility to the environment and its emergence in the world as a developed nation. As human activities intrude upon natural environments with increasing frequency, it seems as though this conflict is unavoidable. Smara, in particular, is one such case in which development continues although side effects from this practice may have immense consequences for the local environments. As it is currently, future restoration and prevention efforts will be unlikely to succeed without public involvement. We believe, therefore, that the local community must be made aware and interested in the problem in order to control this environmental destruction and limit its magnitude in the future.


Chapter Three: Methodology

Mitigating the sedimentation affecting the mangrove population in the Mala Noche River estuary involves three major objectives: 1. To assess the current state of the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves. 2. To determine whether it is necessary for restoration to take place within the Mala Noche River. 3. To develop a suitable education plan in the town of Smara about the importance of estuaries and mangroves. A framework is needed for future restoration and education efforts in Smara, Costa Rica. To achieve these goals, we conducted a preliminary assessment of the problems faced by the area. Drawing upon this preliminary background research, we evaluated the various environmental problems, in particular sedimentation, faced by the estuary and the specific impact these problems have had on Smara. Our final step was to suggest methods of remediation and to establish an outline for future educational programs geared towards promoting the health and restoration of the estuary and mangroves.

3.1: Preliminary Assessment

Our preliminary assessment of the area provided critical background information on the estuary and its mangrove population. Through this assessment, we sought to understand the interconnection between the various species of the Mala Noche River and to determine how the surrounding community views the estuary and mangroves. A full analysis of the situation allowed for a comprehensive appraisal of the current state of the two environments. Developing a preliminary assessment required a solid grasp of: the definition of a healthy estuary, the specific environmental problem in Smara, the interconnection of mangroves and estuaries, and the perception of these environments in the local community. The components of a healthy estuary were determined primarily through research and interviews with experts in the field. We gathered the necessary data from newspapers, select case studies and legitimate internet sources. Additionally, we interviewed Dr. Jose Antonio Vargas, who is well known in the fields of estuarine environment ecology, management, and conservation. We also contacted a representative from the estuary division of Fundacin Neotrpica concerning how to best assess the health of an estuary environment. Their input and information regarding estuary


and mangrove systems greatly aided us in the formation of a baseline for the health of these environments. To understand the on-going environmental situation, we consulted the aforementioned experts who provided both technical and contextual information on the excess sedimentation harming the Mala Noche River mangroves. This understanding allowed us to analyze our definition of a healthy estuary within the context of the Mala Noche River and its mangroves. We also interviewed a member of ASADA Smara, to gain a sociological perspective of the problem and additional factors to consider when developing our recommendations. (This member of ASADA has asked to remain anonymous due to his/her extensive familiarity with the problems facing Smara. Therefore, his/her exposure may lead to undue burdens in the community. However, his/her expertise in these environmental issues is considerable, and his/her credentials can be attested by Professors Jennifer Rudolph and Stanley Selkow.) We compiled the responses and data from these interviews to obtain a more comprehensive picture of the results to be used for analysis. Therefore, in addition to providing us with an understanding of the situation, our interviews also allowed us to make informed recommendations concerning the continuing process of assessment and restoration of the estuary. While on-site, visual observation of the mangroves and estuary allowed for first-hand understanding of their interconnection and the perception of them in the local community. To observe the interworking of the mangrove and estuary environments, we made two separate visits to the area. We also spent two days examining the mangroves and surrounding area in order to familiarize ourselves with the areas layout and to identify any additional problems. We documented any noticeable issues such as mangrove mortality using a digital camera and a notebook. Likewise, we interviewed residents in the community to acquaint ourselves with the perceptions concerning the Mala Noche River estuary and its mangroves. These actions provided a context for the situation and allowed us to gather general information on the area.


3.2: Problem Assessment

Once we came to a basic understanding of the problem and area, we evaluated the pollution and sediment threatening the mangrove forest and the Mala Noche River estuary. We investigated the area around the mangroves and interviewed a member of ASADA, to determine the various sources of pollution. Additionally, we observed the mangroves for any noticeable effects of sedimentation. The purpose of this evaluation was to assess and focus on the specific problems caused by sedimentation and pollution within the Mala Noche River. To determine the amount of sediment present in and around the Mala Noche River estuary, we visually documented sedimentation in the area. We first observed the sediment on the beach leading up to the estuary. Furthermore, a local resident, who also wishes to remain anonymous, guided us through the area and provided a brief history of the beach and a description of how it has changed over the last 5-10 years. We took photos of sediment across the beach and noted the main types of sediment present. Near a small, unnamed creek that once connected to the Mala Noche River, we photographed the height of the sediment on the beach. Once we identified the forms of sediment present within the estuary, we formulated theories about potential sources. We interviewed the member of ASADA for an opinion on the possible sources. We considered a wide range of sources for the sedimentation when concluding what types of remediation methods would be appropriate.

Figure 3-1. Surveying Sediment. Team members document sediment on the beach and near an unnamed river (photo by Stanley Selkow). 23

3.3: Community Outreach: An Educational Supplement

For the final stage of the project, we developed an educational supplement about mangroves and estuaries. This supplement will be used as a guide to develop an environmental education program to teach children about the importance of these environments. This information, in turn, will be relayed to parents, and will help to boost community awareness about these topics. To determine what kind of supplement to develop, we had a contact in Smara speak to the local school director about whether or not the school curriculum currently covers information about estuaries and mangroves. We also asked for the level of interest in an educational supplement, and the directors opinion on whether she thought the children would be receptive to a lesson on mangroves and estuaries. We asked for their opinion on the most helpful form the educational supplement might take, such as a workbook or lesson pamphlet. Moreover, we spoke to a member of ASADA who had previously worked with the schools and documented his/her opinions concerning what educational techniques work best. Finally, we researched articles and other scientific journals on the best methods to educate children. Using all this information, we then developed an educational supplement that could be used to educate the community, in addition to recommendations on how to properly implement this supplement.


3.4: Justification of Research Methods

There are several factors we considered when deciding on the most appropriate research methods for our study. We chose to interview experts primarily because it gave us reliable and detailed information in a relatively short period of time. Additionally, due to the complexity of our issues, interviews allowed us a chance to get in-depth information specific to our problem. Our various interviews allowed us to view the problem from different perspectives, which ultimately enriched the quality of our results. However, there was the possibility that we misinterpreted cultural cues during interviews, which could affect our understanding of the results. In addition to interviews, we observed the estuary and the community activities that took place within it. Through this observation, we assessed how the estuary was used; however, our observations were limited to a subsection of Smara and therefore, they may not be an accurate picture of how the community as a whole uses the estuary. In our project, we used primarily published print sources such as journals and other relevant texts. This provided us with a broad range of information; however, the challenge with print sources was ensuring that the information within these sources was up-to-date. Additionally, with print sources, the information found was not always specific to the Smara region; therefore any comparisons made must take this into consideration. The internet sources used were generally government websites or scholarly articles written on the topic. The advantage to this was it provided a wide range of perspectives on the issue in a relatively short amount of time.


3.5: Future Efforts in the Mala Noche River

The scope of this project required a thorough grasp of the various environmental problems affecting the Mala Noche River estuary and its mangroves. We assessed the area and documented our findings concerning the sedimentation and pollution sources. In order to involve the community in the restoration process, we explored the current educational curriculum of Smara and researched the best methods to implement environmental education programs. Through these efforts, we were able to design an educational supplement concerning the importance of mangroves and estuaries. It was our aim to remediate the situation by simultaneously recommending physical restoration techniques and educating the communitys future stakeholders on the importance of mangroves and estuaries.


Chapter Four: Evaluating Sedimentation and Community Awareness in Smara

In this chapter, we present our findings concerning: the criteria required for assessing healthy estuary and mangrove environments, the community uses of the Mala Noche River and the impact of sedimentation on these environments. In addition, we describe the need for community education on the importance of estuarine environments. The findings in this chapter informed our recommendations concerning how to best educate the community, and restore the Mala Noche River.

4.1: Defining the Health of Environments

Most natural environments, such as estuaries and mangroves, are highly variable, especially given time and the natural progression of the seasons. However, it is important to distinguish between naturally occurring changes and changes brought through human actions. In the latter case, it often becomes necessary to mitigate the impact humans have on environments, such as estuaries and mangroves, through a variety of appropriate restoration techniques. In order to determine if the Mala Noche River estuary was unhealthy, we needed to first define a healthy estuary and mangroves. Through interviews with Dr. Jos Antonio Vargas, a University of Costa Rica professor in CIMAR (El Centro de Investigacin en Ciencias del Mar y Limnologa), we determined basics ways to define a healthy estuary. According to Dr. Vargas, a healthy estuary can be defined using ecological theory. This theory states that if an estuary is in its best condition, it exhibits climax conditions. Here, climax conditions are defined as situations, unique to a particular ecosystem, in which the species composition stays relatively constant. Moreover, a healthy estuary will have established food webs, three or more observable trophic levels (a trophic level is a group of organisms who are at the same level in the food chain), high species diversity and clean water. More importantly, in a healthy estuary, the energy put into the system (through sunlight, photosynthesis etc.) is fully utilized within the ecosystem. If an estuary is unhealthy, energy is wasted when portions of food webs are lost, species diversity is reduced, and when biomass (such as excess plants and animals) rots. Sediment that is barren of life (i.e. no microorganisms, crabs etc.) is usually indicative of this situation. Using our definition of a healthy estuary for comparison, we determined that the Mala Noche River estuary was not healthy.


4.2: Initial assessment of the Mala Noche River and Key Observations on the Community
For a better understanding of our assessment of the Mala Noche River, we will begin with a description of the areas layout, followed by a synopsis on the community usage of the estuary and mangroves. The Mala Noche River is located in the province of Guanacaste, in the Nicoya territory. Figure 4-1 shows the current path the river takes in relation to Smara, El Torito, Matapalo, and an unnamed river, which once connected to the Mala Noche River estuary. The mouth of the Mala Noche River freely connects to a bay, open to the Pacific Ocean. This bay is surrounded on the left and right by Punta Smara and Punta Indio, respectively, the two farthest-reaching stretches of land on either side. From Figure 4-1, it is possible to see that the location of the estuarys mouth is such that any pollutants or sediments to enter the river woul d have a high chance of reaching the coral reef ecosystems within the bay, as well as the ecosystems on the Island of Chora. In addition to its interconnection with these nearby ecosystems, the Mala Noche River also has a huge impact on the aquifer of Smara. An aquifer is a natural underground storage of fresh water, which acquires its store of water from both superficial (above ground) and subterranean (below ground) waters. In this case, the Mala Noche River provides the majority of superficial water for the aquifer, which has an area of 2 km2. The Mala Noche River, in turn, receives its supply of water from the Mala Noche Basin, which measures approximately 24 km2. Although both these ecosystems are small, they are highly important, as they are the only source of potable water for the local communities (Arnez & Funke, 2008). Figure 4-2 shows the location of the five drilled wells in the region, of which, only two (GA-040 and GA-015) are used to provide potable water to the Smara and El Torito area (Martnez, 2006). The three other wells function to service private enterprises in the area (Arnez et al., 2005).


Figure 4-2

Figure 4-1. Mala Noche River Map. Map of area surrounding the Mala Noche River (river towards right) and proposed development projects in 2005. The unnamed river, as seen in the red box, once connected to the Mala Noche River. Additionally, Isla Chora can be seen in the bottom right corner of the map (Arnez et al., 2005). 29

Figure 4-2. Wells in Aquifer. The protected zone of the aquifer (green) and the five wells (blue dots) (Arnez & Funke, 2008).

4.2.1: Utilization of Resources in the Mala Noche Sector In Smara, the surrounding communities utilize the resources of the Mala Noche River and mangroves in many different ways. Although some of these practices are harmless, others have the capacity to cause a great deal of damage to the surrounding ecosystems. For this reason, it is important to assess both the positive and negative practices within the Mala Noche Sector, which includes the river, its springs, and the land in both the upper and middle part of the watershed. Additionally, despite the fact that outsiders see some of these practices as harmful, there is an


inherent difficulty in convincing local residents to change such customary practices. We, therefore, further examined the communitys perspective on the role of the estuary in order to understand the reasoning behind their actions. The communities in Smara and El Torito rely on the estuary as a source of fresh drinking water. We used interviews with local experts as well as past studies to gather relevant information on this topic. However, it is important to note that interviews have the potential for bias as both interviewers and interviewees may only paint a picture of the problem from their perspective. For the Mala Noche Sector, we learned that all of the potable water for the area comes from one aquifer, the Mala Noche aquifer, as mentioned previously. Therefore, the aquifer and in part, the Mala Noche River, determine the amount of people the region can safely sustain. In the low tourist season, two wells provide water to about 2000 people, while in the high season, these same wells provide for about 7000 people (Martnez, 2006). As the only potable water source, it is vital to protect the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves. In addition, any areas further upstream, whose health affects lower regions of the river, must be protected. Even though the mangroves are situated 300 m away from the public wells, they provide an important service. The balance of saltwater and freshwater near the aquifer depends upon the health of these mangroves as they function to prevent the intrusion of ocean water into the aquifer (Member of ASADA, personal communication, November 16, 2010; Australian Online Coastal Information, 2010). Damages to the mangroves and estuary, through harmful practices, could lead to a shortage or even complete loss of water to the people of Smara and El Torito. While the use of the aquifer as a source of potable water is benign in principle, there is a risk of overexploiting its resources. The aquifer can only support a finite population size due to its relatively small area of 2 km2 (Arnez & Funke, 2008). Excess demand placed on the aquifer could lead to a water shortage and potentially the entrance of saltwater. If salt water gets into the aquifer, the contamination is irreversible as it reduces the level of underground freshwater available to the community, risking the livelihood of the entire region (Arnez et al., 2005). Currently, in Smara, the drive for expansion and development has led to an increase in the towns population; this has placed a strain upon the Mala Noche aquifer. The situation has been amplified by the approval of projects and mega-development in the areas in and surrounding Smara and El Torito. El Torito, more so than Smara, has already felt the repercussions of these huge development projects in the form of insufficient water for its existing population. In a 2008 report, the well for El Torito produced about 2.3 liters/sec. in the summer, starting from the month of March. The report stated that this is an insufficient amount of water to supply a whole community 31

comfortably. Nevertheless, the ASADA in El Torito continues to grant permits to projects in the surrounding area. The number of hotels, cabins, and even condominiums is expected to increase, in spite of the strain this places on their water supply (Arnez et al., 2005; Arnez & Funke, 2008). The extraction of water from the Mala Noche aquifer has not been effectively controlled in past or recent years, and this situation has a critical impact on dependent communities (Arnez et al., 2005). The inability to control or regulate harmful community practices in Smara can lead to damage of the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves, endangering both the surrounding ecosystems and the aquifer. In recent years, the aquifer has experienced a great number of potential threats, with one of the most serious ones occurring on October 21, 2006, when the Mala Noche River poured over its normal path and reached within 100 m of Smaras well, threatening the lives of local inhabitants. Evidence to the cause of this event points toward human activities: upstream deforestation and development in areas critical to the stability of the aquifer (Arnez & Funke, 2008). Although some practices, such as use of the estuary for recreational purposes, are only minimally harmful, other practices such as waste disposal and burning are more harmful to estuarine health (Figure 4-3). The lack of clearly regulated waste disposal measures in Smara has resulted in community The usage of the estuary as an illegal dumpsite. effects of this practice are highly apparent through observation however, provided background on alone; interviews further these

practices. Because there Figure 4-3. Burn Pile. A trash pile, which will be burned, next to aquifer border and mangroves (photo by Ricardo Obasare). is no system in place for trash recollection in this area, it is common for trash to be buried or burned in regions near the Mala Noche Sector (Figure 4-3). Toxic substances 32

from these illegal dumpsites can enter the soil, eventually reaching the recharge zone of the aquifer (the area in which waters first enter the aquifer) (Arnez et al., 2005). Additionally, when the locals burn trash, the fires are often started directly underneath trees (Figure 4-4). The heat and smoke from these fires put great strain on the mangrove trees, and often kills them (Member of ASADA, personal communication, November 16, 2010). Toxic smoke from these trash burnings return to the ground with rain and enters superficial and waters subterranean

(Arnez et al., 2005). In the Mala Noche River itself, there is a high level of contamination from Matapalo and El Torito. This contamination comes in the form of household and industrial trash, including toxic and chemical solutions from construction Figure 4-4. Burning Trash Pile. A pile of debris along the beach road ablaze. This pile burned underneath a palm tree and next to a small mangrove (in front and towards the left side of the fire) (photo by Riccardo Obasare). sites. Additionally, cars and trucks are washed in or near the river and even receive oil changes, with excess

runoff often entering the river. Untreated sewage, another common pollutant, results largely from the fact that Smara does not have a treatment system for its sewage and wastewaters. The wastes from septic systems (in homes that possess this type of waste management technique) are washed out by groundwater during the rainy season and end up in the ocean, to which the estuary and mangrove are highly connected (Member of ASADA, personal communication, November 16, 2010). Without the proper studies, the exact impact of such high levels of pollution in Smara is unknown, although there have been apparent negative consequences for the surrounding ecosystems. Human development in and around the Mala Noche Sector has resulted in a marked decrease in environmental health. In Smara, the inhabitants often use the mangroves and other flora Other surrounding the Mala Noche River as building material. This results in the extraction of bark, trees, and leaves, although such actions are deemed illegal by various environmental laws. 33

materials, such as large stones and debris from the river bed, have also been removed from the natural environment for construction projects (Member of ASADA, personal communication, November 16, 2010). This is a huge disturbance to the benthic communities in the river bed, as well as to all other ecosystems in the area. In forests throughout the Mala Noche Sector, investors have been known to develop lots for the construction of grand villas, some with a value of millions of dollars. These developments can often encompass areas that span thousands of square meters. Without proper studies, the scale of the environmental impact these projects have is unknown. However, such large losses of forest tracts will mean a definite change in the micro- and macroclimate (climate on a local and global scale), thus having large consequences for water cycles (the way in which water is recycled and reused in an environment) (Arnez et al., 2005). Streets, roads, and plantations are other common types of development within the Mala Noche Sector. Several of these construction projects have taken place within the recharge zone of the Mala Noche aquifer. The heavy machinery often compacts the soil in these areas and causes a distortion of the ground that can result in erosion (Arnez et al., 2005). In the mangrove forests surrounding the Mala Noche River, specifically, squatters have made at least four separate attempts within the last ten years to create lots out of land that is protected by law (Member of ASADA, personal communication, November 16, 2010). In this type of development, the mangrove trees are clear cut and both drains and ditches are used to dry the soil, resulting in the destruction of entire ecosystems which depend on the moist soils of wetlands for survival. Regardless of the type of development, it is clear that human encroachment within the Mala Noche Sector has resulted in a disruption of water cycles and a huge disturbance in the natural interactions of ecosystems (Arnez et al., 2005). 4.2.2: Community Perspective Although certain community practices in Smara are harmful to the surrounding environment, it is often difficult to change customs which have become habitual. For this reason, we must consider the mindset behind these practices in order to better understand the perspective of the locals. Through interviews with local residents, we found that, in general, the inhabitants of Smara are unaware of the importance of the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves in their lives. An important note on this point is that we had a limited amount of time to study their perspective; so, we relied heavily on interviews to formulate our findings, which have the potential for bias. We found that, for the most part, inhabitants do not realize that some of their actions cause great harm to the environment, and that this can have repercussions upon their own lives. It is not widely known that the Mala Noche River contributes to the superficial waters that enter the aquifer. The 34

pollution of and general behavior towards the river reflects this lack of knowledge. There is also a lack of awareness concerning how the mangroves contribute to the protection of the aquifer, which results, in part, in continued destruction of these environments. Through our interviews, we also found that local residents view mangroves as visually unappealing and believe they occupy too much space. Many inhabitants also dislike wildlife at such a close proximity to their community, as they view them as dangerous. Additionally, some inhabitants are aware of the environmental problems in Smara, but are, understandably, more concerned with providing for their families. It is often easy to look at the situation from the perspective of an outsider and favor the conservation and restoration of an environment as more important than the involved community. However, in many cases, encroachment upon natural environments occurs as a result of necessity or of the desire of people to create a better life for themselves and for their family. Thus, although development can cause environmental damage, it also leads to monetary gain. Money is often the incentive in Smara for granting permits to projects even if there is not enough water, and it is not in the best interests of the community. This is also true for the development of lots, which are often located in areas which should be under governmental protection. Furthermore, many harmful practices, such as waste disposal and burning, have been done for generations, and take place in many different areas of Costa Rica. Many inhabitants, therefore, look upon these practices as traditions, rather than environmental mistreatment. For a truly sustainable solution to the environmental situation in Smara, all of these perspectives must be taken into account when trying to determine the best methods of remediation (Member of ASADA, personal communication, November 16, 2010).


4.3: Problem Assessment in the Mala Noche River

Research shows that excess sedimentation can be detrimental to the health of an estuary and its mangroves. Therefore, following our initial assessment of the Mala Noche Sector, we documented the sedimentation present in and around the area in order to evaluate the health of the Mala Noche River to determine whether restoration is necessary. In our assessment, we aimed to first determine the type of sediment, and then formulate a hypothesis for its source based upon interviews with locals and past studies of the area. Additionally, we evaluated the impact the sediment has had and continues to have on the estuary and the floral, faunal, and anthropological communities dependent on it. We also investigated other factors, aside from sedimentation, that contributed greatly to the degree of impact from the sediment. These evaluations allowed us to make several conclusions surrounding the necessity of restoration and the current condition of the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves. 4.3.1: Initial Visits to the Area To complete our first objective of determining whether restoration is necessary for mangrove and estuary survival, we used visual observation and interviews with experts to document sediment type, location, and possible sources of the sediment. Due to regulations, we were not allowed to enter the estuary and mangroves; this means that our evaluation of the area was limited to the mouth of the estuary, the beach, and approximately 30 meters upstream of the mouth. In our initial visit to these areas, we catalogued two main types of sediment: clay and gravel. On the surrounding beach (Figure 4-5) and in the estuary itself (Figure 4-6), there were large amounts of gravel sediment mixed with fragments of coral. In the estuary, this Figure 4-5. Playa Smara. Gravel sedimentation on Playa Smara near the Mala Noche River (photo by Emily ScottSolomon). gravel sediment was present at the mouth of the river and approximately 30 meters upstream.


Figure 4-6. Clay and Gravel Sediment. Clay and gravel sedimentation within the Mala Noche Rivers estuary (photo by Erin Armstrong).

We hypothesized that the gravel sediment on the beach came to its current location when gravel in the estuary washed out to the ocean, and currents returned it to the beach. Through our conversations with Sr. Konrad Sauter and a member of ASADA, we also theorized that the gravel sediment originally came from construction projects upstream of the Mala Noche River, which have been known to clear the tops of hills, dumping their excess building materials alongside and even in the river. The magnitude of the Figure 4-7. Destruction of Hill. To level the ground, a hilltop was removed during the construction of a hotel (Arnez & Funke, 2008). 37 damage done to the environment

in this type of construction is incalculable, especially given the large tracts of land cleared. Figure 47 shows the extent of damage in one such construction project. The second major type of sediment found in the Mala Noche River was clay. This sediment was identified by its consistency: when squeezed, the sediment would remain firm and it was possible to mold the sediment into different shapes, both characteristics of clay. The clay found in the Mala Noche Sector was localized mainly inside of the estuary. There were large deposits of clay both in the mouth of the river and approximately 30 meters upstream (as seen in Figure 4-8). This clay was present in much larger quantities than the gravel sediment. Figure 4-6 shows the Figure 4-8. Clay Sediment. A large amount of clay sediment located at the mouth of the Mala Noche River (photo by Emily Scott-Solomon). As Figure 4-9 shows, the huge amount of clay has caused the Mala Noche River to change its course in order to remain connected to the ocean. While it is true that estuaries are continually changing, the change in course of the Mala Noche River over the past few years has been heavily influenced by the amount of clay that has washed downstream. In addition, the river has begun to eat away at the banks, which has resulted in an enlargement of the river to nearly three times its original size. The eroded soil from the bank then contributes to banks of clay sediment, in comparison to the much smaller piles of gravel sediment.

Figure 4-9. Diversion of the Mala Noche River. The large amount the sediment input further decreasing water of gravel and clay sediment blocking the rivers mouth has flow. The enlargement of the river also diverted the river, causing it to erode the banks (photo by Erin Armstrong). 38

Figure 4-10. Clay Sediment from Estuary and Hill. Clay sediment found in the Mala Noche estuary (left) looked similar to clay soil in the teak plantation (right) (photos by Emily Scott-Solomon). reduces the land available to various terrestrial ecosystems within the Mala Noche Sector. Where the river was once curved, as seen in various governmental maps of the area, it is now mostly straight (see Appendix B). Through further visual observation and interviews, we determined that the most likely source of the clay sediment was from a teak plantation that is located farther upstream in the Mala Noche River. This hypothesis was corroborated by the fact that the soil found in the teak plantation was very similar to the clay sediment in the Mala Noche River estuary in that they both have a red coloration, and a similar texture when held. A comparison of the two samples of soil can be seen in Figure 4-10. Locals have informed us that this red clay is not native to the estuary, and began to gather at the mouth of the estuary around the time of the teak plantations formation. To further confirm that these two soil types are identical, qualified personnel need to run soil composition tests. Also, research suggests that teak Because teak trees have such plantations are a common source of soil erosion. large leaves, it is difficult for sunlight to reach the undergrowth (Figure 4-11 and Figure 4-12). Therefore, in a teak plantation, teak is often the only thing able Figure 4-11. Teak Leaf. Teak leaf taken from a tree growing next to the Mala Noche River estuary (photo by Emily Scott-Solomon). 39

to grow. As a result, there is little to no undergrowth to hold the soil in place (Young, 1989). When the rainy season comes, the soil is pulled down the mountain by rain into the rivers and deposited into the estuary. There is a similar effect when the teak is harvested since there is nothing to support the soil. This least three teak large plantation covers at hillsides. Additionally, in many areas of the teak plantation, the protected streams This zones and of rivers

have been violated. encroachment upon protected lands adds to the amount of sediment entering the Mala from Figure 4-12. Understory Growth in the Teak Plantation. In the teak plantation, very little to no vegetation grows in the understory. The plants covering the ground are small teak trees (photo by Erin Armstrong). Noche the River teak In many


cases, the teak trees are planted right next to the banks of the river, and there is no

natural vegetation present to act as a barrier for some of the sediment. The exact impacts of the teak plantation have never been evaluated. However, the massive change in vegetation and encroachment upon protected areas has negatively affected water cycles and previously existing ecosystems. These negative effects can be seen in the loss of biodiversity within the area and the drying of springs and rivers, located within the basin, which has been occurring earlier each year. As of 2008, the Mala Noche River remains mostly dry between the months of February and May. Local inhabitants have said this is a new occurrence and that the river had never gone dry in years previous to the formation of the teak plantation (Arnez & Funke, 2008).


In addition to direct deposition of sediment, there are other factors that contribute to excess sediment retention in the Mala Noche River estuary. Upstream of the Mala Noche River, there are many new housing and hotel developments. One of these hotels has diverted water from more than 10 of the streams that feed the Mala Noche River estuary. This diversion of protected waters is illegal, and has taken place due to the hotels need to supply water for their artificial lake and fountain. The lake has no protective vegetation, and thus is in direct sunlight. This, in addition to the lakes fountain, causes a great deal of water to be lost through evaporation. find that Through interviews this diversion has and past studies, we were able to contributed to the drying of rivers and streams in the summer. We were able to obtain past evidence corroborating the fact that this water diversion has severely limited the available water in the Mala Noche River: once the pipes leading to the artificial lake were broken, the stream quickly filled with water. This evidence can be seen in Figure 4-13. To exacerbate the situation, the Figure 4-13. Diverting Water by Pipes. The diversion of water completely dried a spring (top), but after the pipe was opened, the stream began flowing normally within minutes (bottom) (ASADA, Smara, n.d.). 41 diverted waters are not returned to the Mala Noche River following their use in the artificial lake. Rather, they become a part of

a different watershed (an area where surface and subterranean waters converge and enter larger bodies of water), located in Carrillo Beach. Although we recognize the fact that increasing water could bring more sediment down the mountain, it is more likely that an increased water flow would help to flush out the sediment currently present in the estuary (J. Crooks, personal communication, October 7, 2010). Additionally, the sedimentation is only half of the problem in this situation. Without an adequate water flow in the estuary, the mangroves will die. This has already begun to take place, as evidenced by the several instances of dead mangroves alongside the Mala Noche River (Figure 4-14). Figure 4-14. Mangrove Mortality in Estuary. A mangrove near the mouth of the Mala Noche River shows signs of stress. Many of its branches are bare of leaves and many of the leaves are starting to yellow (photo by Emily ScottSolomon).

Furthermore, the amount of water that currently flows down the Mala Noche River is enough that sedimentation can continue to travel from the hillsides of the teak plantation to the mouth of the estuary. Therefore, although increasing the amount of water flow for the river will allow more sediment to pile up, not taking action against the diversion of waters will result in a situation in which there are no mangroves or estuary to protect for lack of water. 4.3.2: Impact on Outlying Ecosystems and the Community In addition to determining the level of sedimentation within the estuary, we also evaluated the negative impact of sedimentation on it. Upon initially viewing the Mala Noche River estuary, we noted that the estuary has almost completely disappeared. To have a functional estuary, the freshwater of the river must be able to mix with the saltwater of the ocean. Instead, the mouth of the Mala Noche River now, more or less, feeds directly into the ocean. The area in which the mixing of salt and freshwater took place was once about five feet deep at high tide, during the wet season. Currently, this area is much smaller in size and is now only a few inches deep at high tide. This drastic change, according to local inhabitants, occurred around the same time as the appearance of the large banks of clay and gravel sediment (Member of ASADA, personal communication, November 16, 2010). Additionally, we observed many dead mangroves on the banks of the Mala 42

Noche River. As seen in Figure 4-15, these dead mangroves were mostly localized to areas where the sedimentation was so extreme the river had eaten away at its banks and the water could no longer reach the roots of the trees. If the situation is not mitigated, the remaining Figure 4-15. Mala Noche River Banks. Erosion along the banks of the Mala Noche River and the resulting sedimentation (photo by Erin Armstrong). as an the mangrove sedimentation with a

trees will most likely die becomes more severe. In interview

member of ASADA, we discovered that the number of animal species in the area has dramatically dropped in the last ten years, with about 50% of the native fauna actually remaining in the area (Arnez & Funke, 2008). Such damage to the terrestrial environments in Smara has noticeably affected surrounding marine environments due to the inherent interconnection of these two ecosystems. In addition to terrestrial life, the sedimentation has impacted local marine life. Most apparent, is the effect sedimentation has had on the coral reefs located within Smaras bay. When making our initial assessments of the area, we noticed a great deal of bleached coral had washed up all along the shore. We were told that this amount of coral was indicative of a dying, or mostly dead, coral reef, and that this situation has continued to worsen over the past few years. Likely, the gravel sediment from upstream construction projects has played a role in the destruction of these coral reefs. When washed out of the estuary, the gravel entered into the bay where the coral reefs are located. It is likely that the currents allowed the gravel to collide with the reefs, causing an unknown amount of damage (Arnez et al., 2005). Without action, it is unlikely that these marine environments will be able to recover, thus adding to the deterioration of terrestrial environments with which they are interconnected.


Finally, because sedimentation also affects the surrounding community, we evaluated the negative impact of sedimentation on the areas of touristic development, the economy, and sustainable living. In terms of development, wetland environments and mangrove forests can be a strong draw for birdwatchers and other tourists. Therefore, if construction destroys these areas, tourism development itself may be halted. In terms of tourism, the continued damage to the coral reef is also destroying an ecosystem that could have held a potential touristic draw. This touristic draw, from the surrounding environments, is one of the largest sources of revenue for Smara. It is important for locals to realize that the destruction of environments such as the mangroves and estuary can have major consequences to their ocean and their beach, two sites which often draws tourists to the region. Additionally, estuaries and mangrove swamps are the nurseries for many marine species such as red snapper. If these areas were destroyed, fishermans hauls would be reduced, affecting both the community and its markets due to Smaras partial dependence on the fishing industry. In terms of sustainable living, mangroves play a vital role in protecting the coastline from storms and their aftereffects, namely, flooding. Mangroves are highly important regulators in flooding due to the fact that they act as sponges, absorbing excess water. Mangroves also function in the filtration of bacteria and other dangerous substances, thus protecting local marine life (Arnez et al., 2005). However, most importantly, if the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves are destroyed, Smara will be without a source of fresh drinking water. Therefore, to bring about a truly sustainable future for this community, damage to the environment must be both mitigated and prevented.


4.4: Development of an Education Curriculum

One of the major aims of our project is to build a framework for future restoration efforts in the Mala Noche River. To this end, we have found that restoration projects of this magnitude are ineffective without a participatory approach when dealing with the local community. This participatory approach should focus on involving the stakeholders (those invested both in the changes and future of the area) and making them aware of the importance of the environment in their everyday lives. Involvement from the community often ensures successful, sustainable restoration projects and the prevention of future human disturbances to a particular environment. A key tool in involving the community lies with environmental education, particularly at the level of schoolchildren, which creates a basis for conservation principles to spread. In developing a future education program, we first determined the current level of environmental education within the community as well as the level of interest in the implementation of a new educational curriculum. Because of the limited time we had in Smara, a third party interviewed both the director and biology teacher from El Torito high school, Liceo Rural Smara. Therefore, we could not give follow-up questions, nor could we gauge their reactions to questions. The interview found that, while the high school biology curriculum covers mangroves and estuaries, the information covered is very basic. In addition, only one to two hours of the curriculum per year concentrated on this topic. Moreover, mangroves and estuaries are mostly taught in the 11th grade (the highest grade level). According to the interviewer, the director and teacher appeared enthusiastic about introducing more material concerning these subjects since they believe the mangroves and estuary are very important. For educating the students, the director and teacher felt the most powerful teaching tool would be a Powerpoint presentation filled with vivid pictures of damage to the environment. In addition, they recommended a field trip to the site so students could witness the damage. The biggest hurdle, they predicted, would be teaching the school staff more about the estuary and mangroves as well as scheduling the education sessions (P. Gonzales & J. Obando, personal communication, December 1, 2010). After determining the level of interest in an environmental education program, we researched effective environmental teaching techniques for the schools and community. Through research and interviews, we determined the most effective methods for environmental education in a rural setting such as Smara. We interviewed a member of ASADA to learn about environmental programs instituted before our arrival. Most of these environmental programs involved school children. A member of ASADA taught them about different environmental threats and even brought them to threatened sites to hang signs promoting


protection of the area. Although the children were initially receptive, they lost interest following the conclusion of the lessons. However, our research suggests this method, a participatory approach, provides the best educational outcome (NAAEE, 2010; GIMHRDD & NIC, n.d.). To develop more interest and further promote awareness, we have determined that other organizations such as the schools and municipality must be included in the education system. Additionally, the creation of workshops for adults, especially teachers, can help increase community involvement (Fundacin Neotropica, personal communication, November 23, 2010). Studies also show children, ages 8 and under, are more receptive of education programs when adults provide an environmental conscious role model (NAAEE, 2010). Environmental education programs need to employ a multitude of methods to address the different learning styles and maturity levels of each child. Younger children, specifically ages 3 to 6 years, must develop an appreciation for the natural world, which future education can build upon. Positive experiences with the environment such as visiting a nature preserve or planting a community garden can accomplish this. Explicitly teaching problems and threats facing the environment should be reserved for older children, 8 and over, who can begin to comprehend the interconnections between actions and consequences (NAAEE, 2010). Activities created for the environmental education curriculum should be a mix of structured and unstructured, facilitating critical thinking and maximizing learner participation (NAAEE, 2010; GIMHRDD & NIC, n.d.). One example, group discussion about a story or environmental scenario, allows students to share ideas while providing support for their opinions. This allows students to organize their own thoughts while incorporating new information from other sources such as teachers and other students. More appropriate for older students, problem solving and inquiry teaches children about a specific situation and allows them to analyze how their own actions might contribute to the environmental problem. It also allows them to propose practical solutions, which they or someone of higher authority can accomplish (GIMHRDD & NIC, n.d.). Games can also arouse interest and be employed in classrooms of all levels. These can range from a scavenger hunt where students identify different aspects of the environment such as animals and flora, to memory games such as matching animals to habitats or names (NAAEE, 2010; GIMHRDD & NIC, n.d.). By employing multiple methods for teaching, children will learn more from the environmental education curriculum. In addition to using multiple teaching styles, educators and adults, themselves, need to first understand environmental problems and interconnections within their own community. Workshops specializing in environmental education curriculums can facilitate such adult 46

understanding (Fundacin Neotropica, personal communication, November 23, 2010; NAAEE, 2010). To properly teach children, educators must be capable of relating the experiences of children to the environment in order to pose reflective questions for discussion. Additionally, they need to understand their own values and principles in relation to the environment. This will allow them to effectively moderate group discussions. Furthermore, workshops can help educators and school districts define goals for environmental education. Three goals that generally drive curriculums include: informing individuals on environmental issues, informing people on human decisions affecting the environment, and allowing for people to make informed decisions (NAAEE, 2010). The education of schoolchildren allows for intercommunity and intergenerational learning. As concluded by the Scarlet Macaw case study (see section 2.5.2), children can retain more knowledge about conservation, which they transfer to their parents. In turn, parents educate neighbors through casual discussion (Gack et al., 2003). Additionally, workshops for adults can facilitate cooperation between generations through their exposure to environmental issues within the community, which is important to early childhood education (NAAEE, 2010). By implementing environmental education in school systems, children can carry knowledge to adults, who may not have the opportunity to attend workshops. This can also increase enforcement of laws by having communities monitor the area and push government officials to follow legislation (Fundacin Neotropica, personal communication, November 23, 2010).


4.5: Conclusion
To conclude, we have determined that the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves cannot be considered healthy. This is due, in large part, to the excess gravel and clay sediment that has affected the area. Also, through interviews and research, we have determined that education is vital in the success of restoration projects. These findings helped us to make recommendations concerning how to proceed with restoration and education efforts.


Chapter Five: A Participatory and Restorative Approach to Sedimentation Mitigation

Through our assessment of the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves, we have concluded that neither can be considered healthy. This is due, in part, to the excess gravel and clay sediment that has impacted the estuary. In this section, we will discuss the factors that led to the deterioration in health of the Mala Noche River estuary. Then, we will give our recommendations on how to proceed with the restoration and education process.

5.1: Dredging
Clay sediment, which we believe is from a local teak plantation, and gravel sediment, which we believe is from local construction projects, has accumulated in the Mala Noche River estuary. This sediment has buried the roots of the mangroves within the estuary, inhibiting their ability to perform gaseous exchange. Similarly, this excess sediment restricts the salt and fresh water exchange at the mouth of the estuary. If this water exchange halts completely, the water within the estuary will become deoxygenated, and the remaining mangroves will die. We recommend that the mouth of the Mala Noche River be dredged once, in order to reestablish normal water exchange between the ocean and river. If sedimentation reaccumulates in the rivers mouth, future dredging will be required. In addition to the buildup of sediment at the mouth of the estuary, accrued sediment approximately 30 meters upstream of the mouth has forced the river to carve a new path around the growing sediment bank. This has resulted in erosion of river banks and widening of the river, which lessens total water per unit area. Because the total water per unit area has been reduced, there is less water flow per unit area to flush the excess sediment out of the estuary, which exacerbates the problem. We recommend that the sediment bank approximately 30 meters upstream of the river mouth be dredged, and the river banks in this section be reinforced to prevent further erosion. Dredging must be executed with caution due to the large impact it can have on surrounding ecosystems. It is important that only the minimal amount of sediment be removed to restore natural water flow. If too much sediment is removed, excess saltwater could enter the estuary, 49

threatening the aquifer and fresh drinking water for the area. Therefore, we recommend that dredging experts be consulted concerning exactly how much sediment should be removed to restore natural water flow. In addition, it must be noted that although restoration of natural water exchange will lessen the likelihood of the total loss of the estuary and mangroves, it will not return the estuary to its original state; it will instead allow a new ecosystem of estuarine species to thrive. This is the second best option comparative to the original state. Finally, although we recognize that the gravel sediment lining the beach near the mouth of the estuary is not aesthetically pleasing, it seems to have no direct effect on the health of the estuary. However, it is possible that it could affect other ecosystems, such as the nearby coral reef. Therefore, we recommend that the gravel sediment lining the beach near the mouth of the estuary be left alone. However, we also recommend that further studies be performed to determine if this excess sediment is affecting the coral reef, located off shore, or other marine communities. Because the survival of the Smara coral reef and the Mala Noche River estuary and mangroves are interconnected, it is important to consider the health of both.

5.2: Sediment Basin

Many of the development projects around Smara utilize unsustainable disposal practices. In order to create flat land for construction, development companies bulldoze hilltops. The companies then dispose of the soil and gravel from the clearing by pushing it over the side of the hills, into rivers (Arnez & Funke, 2008). Additionally, due to erosion, large amounts of clay from the Teak Plantation enter the springs and rivers, and are carried to the mouth of the Mala Noche Rivers estuary. Since gravel and clay contribute to the sedimentation within the Mala Noche estuary, we recommend the construction of a sediment basin. However, because sediment basins are only successful at filtering gravel and large chunks of clay, the basin must be combined with other restoration methods to filter finer clay sediment. Because large amounts of gravel and solid chunks of clay sediment have deposited in the mouth of the Mala Noche River estuary, measures must be implemented to prevent further sedimentation. Sediment basins provide an ideal temporary solution until government 50

enforcement of laws reduces the sources of erosion and sedimentation (Aguitar & Ching, 2001). Also, the construction of a sediment basin will potentially provide jobs to communities during the designing process and construction of the basin. The project will also provide future jobs to people who will monitor and maintain the basin. The basin will generally last 12 to 28 months, which will allow for the performance of other studies to determine more permanent solutions. Generally, detention or retention basins are constructed over sediment basins to provide a permanent solution following the initial 12 to 28 month period, if erosion continues (CASQA, 2003). Additionally, sediment basin experts need to be consulted to determine if a sediment basin is, indeed, an ideal short-term solution. In addition, studies on the topography of the Mala Noche River need to be performed to determine the best location of the sediment basin. The size of a sediment basin depends on the acreage contributing to the sedimentation in the Mala Noche Rivers estuary. Due to our limited time frame, we could not establish the amount of land contributing to sedimentation; therefore, future studies will need to determine the exact locations contributing the most sediment and the sizes of these areas. These studies will also provide data to ascertain the location of the sediment basin, which will maximize capture efficiency.

5.3: Wetland Restoration

The mangrove forest surrounding the Mala Noche Rivers estuary is dying. This not only eliminates bird and wildlife habitat, but also threatens the aquifer located under the mangrove forest. In addition, the reduction of water flow in the Mala Noche River amplifies the effect of sedimentation by preventing natural flushing of the estuary. In addition to the construction of a sediment basin, we advise the reconstruction of native wetlands along the Mala Noche River which will both help to restore the ecosystem and limit flow of fine clay sediment. The diversion of streams and springs feeding the Mala Noche River estuary reduced the rivers ability to naturally flush sediment. The construction of wetlands will increase surface water flow during rain, which will feed the river and increase its flushing capacity (J. Crooks, personal communication, October 7, 2010). The resulting flow can then cleanse the estuary of finer clay sediment. In addition, combining wetlands and sediment basins can help purify pollutants such as the chemical runoff from the Teak Plantation (Arnez et al., 2005). This will also reduce the


chances of the aquifer becoming contaminated. Restored wetlands can economically benefit local communities by providing opportunities for tourism and recreation as well. With the exception of our recommended restoration techniques, people need to allow the mangroves to recover naturally with minimal interference. The mangrove community surrounding the Mala Noche River estuary needs to continue to provide a habitat for wildlife. The mangroves help protect the estuary, which provides nurseries to economically important fish (Martin, 1994). In addition, the mangrove forest protects the aquifer, which provides water to the thousands of inhabitants of Smara and El Torito, from salinization by the ocean. While a variety of methods exist for mangrove restoration, mangroves will naturally recover given time and opportunity. At most, sediment needs to be removed to provide the opportunity, and mangrove seeds can be planted to shorten recovery time. Unfortunately, the mangrove ecosystems will not return to their pre-disturbance original state; however, the current environmental situation can improve if they are given the opportunity to repopulate. To reduce erosion, restoration efforts should also focus on reforestation of the native forests and wetlands in the protected areas surrounding rivers and waterways near the teak plantation. Teak plantations can prevent natural vegetation from colonizing the forest floor, which causes top soil and clay runoff. To decrease erosion, the restoration project should include reforestation of native trees and vegetation within 200 meters of the river at high tide, a zone already protected by law (Aguitar & Ching, 2001). Since we concentrated on mangrove ecosystems, we cannot recommend the types of vegetation this would encompass. Others will have to perform this study to determine the costs of such an endeavor.

5.4: Education
The success of future restorative and preventative measures in the Mala Noche River will depend upon local community involvement. Decisions pertaining to the environment should be made by the community as a whole, to allow them to become a part of a process which affects many aspects of their livelihood. This sort of decision-making can only come about when the community has a solid grasp of the situation and the implications of their actions on the environment. Currently, in Smara, there are a large number of policy makers and stakeholders who remain uninformed about the resources provided by the surrounding environments and the interrelation between their actions and the environment. 52

Therefore, we recommend the initiation of an environmental educational plan for the benefit of the local communities and future restoration efforts in the Mala Noche River. An education plan focusing on the importance of the environment in everyday life, will allow the community of Smara to become a part of the decision-making process in future restoration and prevention efforts. We have written an educational supplement, found in Appendix A, detailing an environmental education plan best suited for the schools in Smara. This supplement focuses mainly upon education of the schoolchildren, with the principle that the education of the towns youth will lead to further intergenerational (child to parent) and intercommunity learning. However, we have noted the necessity of educating the local school teachers and community through workshops and other relevant methods.

5.5: Future Areas for Exploration

The process of restoring an environment disturbed by human activity and preventing future environmental damage is an ongoing endeavor. Community involvement in the decision-making process is necessary to bring about a sustainable relationship between the town of Smara and the environment. The objectives and conclusions reached in this project are only the preliminary steps in the overall goal of creating a framework for future education and restoration efforts in Smara. We recommend, therefore, the completion of future education and restoration projects in the Mala Noche Sector to continue the process of community involvement and environmental restoration. Many areas within our project require expansion, such as the implementation of an environmental education program, and the implementation of restoration efforts. Financial backing from nongovernmental organizations would contribute to the success of future projects. To make the implementation of restoration and education efforts feasible, we recommend the formation of a partnership between the government, NGOs, and community leaders. This partnership would ensure a necessary level of communication between the government and the citizens of Smara. Additionally, it would provide the foundation for future attempts at establishing an enforcement of existing environmental legislation. This enforcement would limit the number of permits given to developers, thus protecting the aquifer, and would prevent future activities from taking place in the protected zones of streams, rivers, and wetland


environments. Possible parties for partnership could include ASADA of Smara and Fundacin Neotropica. It is our recommendation that efforts to implement education and restoration methods be executed simultaneously, so as to mitigate immediate environmental damage while beginning the process of community involvement. We consider the implementation of both the educational curriculum and the restoration methods outlined in this project as necessary steps to educate future stakeholders and to address some of the environmental damage. It is necessary to combine these efforts due to their long-term nature. Should restoration be delayed, there may be irreversible damage done to the wetland and marine environments, leaving the community with nothing to protect. Governmental agencies should be consulted before necessary restoration efforts can begin. Additionally, experts in dredging, basins, and wetland restoration need to determine technical details. We recommend future projects address waste management issues and marine life conservation in Smara Beach. The scope of the environmental problems in Smara has spread to many far-reaching areas that we were not able to investigate. Our findings have indicated a clear need for new waste management practices within the Mala Noche Sector. We believe that it is important for a regulated waste management system to be set up in the town of Smara, so as to lessen the amount of pollution that threatens environments such as the mangroves and the Mala Noche River estuary. Additionally, we did not fully investigate the effect of sedimentation and pollution upon the marine life in Smaras bay. As the town is partially a fishing community, it is important to explore the impacts upon the coral reef and the existent fish population, in addition to possible methods of restoration for each. Due to the strong societal issues raised by the sedimentation affecting the town of Smara, any attempt at a solution will be a long-term process. Our aim for this project was to arrive at an assessment of the problem to provide necessary guidance and direction for future projects. To this end, we have made recommendations concerning possible physical methods of restoration, areas for future research and education programs. We have determined that it is possible for the Mala Noche River estuary to return to a healthy and productive state. However, for this to occur, there needs to be strong emphasis on education of stakeholders within the community. If the community


develops a strong environmental conscience, this will foster more individual concern for the environment and form the best defense against future attacks on its safety.


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Figure Citations
Figure 2-1. Sediment Basin. Adams, C., Anderson, D., Dorrill, E., Melby, P., Cathcart, T., Pote, J., Stegall, T. (1999). Sediment Basin (In-Stream Flow Restoration) [image]. Water Related Best Management Practices in the Landscape (Project). Retrieved November 26, 2010 from: Figure 4-1. Mala Noche River Map. Arnez, E. M., Castillo, A., Dibango, D., Esquivel, C., Funke, B., & Jimnez, J. P. (2005). Nuestra Agua: Tesoro Fragil. Playa Smara: ASADA Smara. Figure 4-2. Wells in Aquifer. Arnez, E. M., & Funke, B. F. (2008). El Recurso Hdrico de Smara: Estado Actual y Amenazas. Playa Smara: ASADA Smara. Figure 4-6. Destruction of Hill. Arnez, E. M., & Funke, B. F. (2008). El Recurso Hdrico de Smara: Estado Actual y Amenazas. Playa Smara: ASADA Smara. Figure 4-12. Diverting Water by Pipes. ASADA, Smara. (n.d.). Hotel Spring Diversion Techniques on Hill Near Smara. Unpublished. Figure B-1. Change in course of the Mala Noche River over a period of several years. (Left Picture). Arnez, E. M., Castillo, A., Dibango, D., Esquivel, C., Funke, B., & Jimnez, J. P. (2005). Nuestra Agua: Tesoro Fragil. Playa Smara: ASADA Smara. Figure B-1. Change in course of the Mala Noche River over a period of several years. (Right Picture). Map of Smara, Costa Rica, retrieved 2007 from website


Appendix A

Importance of Mangroves in Smara, Costa Rica 16th December 2010

Erin Armstrong Elizabeth Degnall Ricardo Obasare Emily Scott- Solomon



This educational supplement was created as a guide for possible educational techniques and topics that can be used within the Smara community. These educational techniques and topics will inform the community on the importance of mangroves and estuaries. Ideally, this will ensure that community members understand the value provided by the Mala Noche River estuary, and hopefully, become more conscious of the impact that their actions have on the environment. Within this supplement, we have outlined possible educational methods aimed at educators, schoolchildren and other community members who use the estuary. Successful restoration of the Mala Noche River estuary requires strong community involvement and cooperation from both local and national non-governmental and governmental agencies. Our hope is that, through education, the community will learn to treasure natural resources and utilize them in a manner that is both beneficial and sustainable.

Who is the educational plan targeting?

o o o Educators Schoolchildren Community Members and stakeholders

What major topics should be taught?

o o o o Role of mangroves in providing clean water Areas that are protected by law Economic benefit of mangroves Ecological benefit of mangroves Plant and animal life Importance as a habitat

Goals of Education:
1. 2. 3. 4. Increase awareness of environmental issues within Smara Increase community interest in maintaining natural environments Encourage community members to become more active in conservation of the environment 1 Allow community members to make more educated decisions on the mangroves and estuarys future

Case Study: Mangrove Action Plan.

The mangrove action plan is an organization that focuses on educating, using a bottom up approach, on the importance of mangroves. Among other resources, we used their curriculum as a general basis for an educational supplement in Smara (Mangrove Action Plan, N.D.). Their curriculum consists of: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. activities and information about mangroves relationships of mangroves to other tropical coastal ecosystems mangrove observation from social, geographical, cultural, economic, and political perspectives guidance in taking scientific measurements about the health of mangroves several action-taking activities to help observers become activists

Conservation implies the continued use of an ecosystem in a sustainable manner. Preservation implies designating an area as protected and preventing human use of the environment.



Education Plan: Workshops geared towards educators should cover: o General information about mangroves and estuaries How mangroves and estuaries work Ecological benefits of mangroves o How mangroves support other aspects of community life in Smara Drinking water Fishing Industry Tourism o Economic benefits of mangroves o How human actions can affect the livelihood of mangroves o How to develop environmental curriculums and how to integrate new information into current curriculums o Current laws protecting mangroves and estuaries Activities geared towards educating educators about mangroves and environment include: o Group discussions identifying economic benefit of mangroves Fishing Tourism o Problem solving and inquiry discussions Environmental issues within Smara Human practices potentially contributing to issues Solutions to environmental issues Actions citizens can take Actions governments can take o Field trips to protected areas Tours to teach about biological communities Native species Nonnative species Evidence of human impact

A possible approach for implementing education programs for educators: Take a poll of educators to gauge interest level in a training program. For early stages, a focus group can gauge the level of environmental awareness amongst educators. Involve non-government organizations specializing in environmental education to develop and teach workshops. Training programs and workshops could start as an annual 2-3 day long period of classes and activities.



Education plan: Activities geared towards informing children more about the environment: o Develop an education curriculum within the school that is attractive and encourages students to learn more about the environment including mangroves and estuaries. Group discussions Role-playing games Projects Problem solving and inquiry o School field trips o Create clubs within schools that carry out consistent environmental activities Field trips to wildlife refuges and parks Environmental projects such as plays or beach clean-ups School vegetable garden or butterfly garden Take children on field trips: o Beach and near mangroves General information about mangroves and estuaries Identifying plants and animals on a tour along the beach Have children bring small bags to pick up trash which can be sorted later in class to separate recyclables o Wildlife Refuge and Park Identify plants and animals Brief overview of human actions that might endanger these areas such as: What happens when people cut down forests? What might happen if people litter/throw trash away in these areas? Arts and crafts using non-food sources from the environment whose removal will not interfere with the livelihood of organisms (i.e. picking plants, destroying nests, etc.): o Painting on rocks from the beach

Possible steps for creation of education curriculum of children: Establish workshops for educators which teaches about environmental curriculums o Curriculum should highlight the benefits of the environment including mangroves Involve organizations experienced with child environmental education to organize activities and help design curriculum Engage children in small environmental projects o Planting native vegetation o Beach clean ups



Education plan: Hold town meetings and offer incentives to attend (food, refreshments, etc): o Provide background on: How mangroves and estuaries work How humans affect the livelihood of mangroves o Facilitate group discussions on: Ecological benefits of mangroves How mangroves support the Smara community Economic benefits of mangroves Aquifer Other economic benefits of mangroves Tourism Fishing Industry Human actions that impact environment Activities geared towards community members about the environment: o Environmental festivals Encourage local artisans to create crafts o Create clubs within schools or community centers that carry out consistent environmental activities Field trips to wildlife refuges and parks Bird watching Environmental projects (small restoration projects) Plays Beach clean-ups Organic composting Recycling programs Planting native vegetation Community garden

Possible steps for implementing education curriculum for community: Create focus groups, which offer incentives for attendance (food, refreshments, etc.), to identify gaps in community members knowledge Take a poll of who may be interested in beginning restoration projects Involve organizations experienced with implementing community education to organize activities and meetings Hold town meetings (which may offer incentives for attendance) to present information Organize small restoration projects, initially twice a year, to increase community interest and activism.


Before implementation of the education plan begins, there are certain other issues that have to be considered. There needs to be an assessment of expected costs of implementing restoration methods. This includes the actual physical restoration methods and also the cost of material and labor that will be necessary for education. There are also certain organizations that should be kept in mind as possible resources when going about restoration:

1. 2. 3. 4.

National Agencies Government Municipalities ASADA Fundacin Neotropica

In developing a plan, it will also be important to have an estimated timeline in mind. This timeline can be used to measure how well goals are being achieved. It is essential that early strategic planning be done to outline the approach that will be taken to reduce the damage done to the Mala Noche River Estuary.


Mangrove Action Plan, N.D., Mangrove Curriculum retrieved on 30 November 2010 from

North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). (2010). Early Childhood Environmental Education Programs: Guidelines for Excellence. Washington, D.C.: North American Association for Environmental Education. Government of India Ministry of Human Resource and Development Department (GIMHRDD) and National Informatics Centre (NIC). (n.d.). Environmental Education Methods and Approaches. Retrieved November 24, 2010, from


Appendix B

Figure B-1. Change in course of the Mala Noche River over a period of several years. This figure shows both a government map and satellite image of the Mala Noche River, side by side. The path of the Mala Noche River is highlighted in yellow on the right, while the same area has been outlined by a black box on the left. The lower part of the river (the boxed area in the left picture) was altered by direct human actions in order to claim part of the land for development. The satellite image, from 2007, is much more recent than the government map. Upon comparison of these two regions, it becomes evident that the Mala Noche River has drastically changed course over the last few years.