Introducing ARCAE: Coastal Conservation and Education

The Costa Rican Conservation Network is proud to unveil:  ARCAE, a legally established Costa Rican rural community based non-profit.

 ARCAE (pronounced “arc-hi”) stands for: Asociación Red Costarricense para el Ambiente y la Educación (Costa Rican Environmental and Educational Network).  Its work will focus on near coastal marine habitats and adjacent rural communities along Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific coast.  The organization’s MISSION is to improve the quality of life for Costa Rica’s rural, coastal residents through environmental conservation, sustainable economic development opportunities, and by bridging the gap that exists between urban and rural educational systems.  At the current time the association is being reviewed by members of Costa Rica’s Public Registry for non-profit, tax exempt status. 

Community outreach education

ARCAE’s environmental and educational objectives include:

Develop and implement research projects that gather baseline information on water quality, endangered marine species activity, and fishing effort in the Golfo Dulce

Promote the protection, defense, restoration, and management of Southern Costa Rica’s coastal resources

Contribute to sustainable coastal development through responsible fishing and sustainable tourism projects

Realize actions targeted at cultural interchanges that promote the acquisition of abilities, attitudes, and practices, leading to new educational and professional opportunities

Contribute to the development of integral members of society through the  improvement of educational systems in the country’s southern, rural, coastal areas      

ARCAE is using various species of endangered sea turtles as the flagships for environmental protection, education, and sustainable economic development.  Its inaugural coastal conservation project is titled: Endangered hawksbill and green sea turtle activity in an approved aquaculture site, mouth of the Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. 

Sea turtle spotted on surface

In 2008, a tuna aquaculture project, or tuna farm, was given governmental permission to establish its operations near the mouth of the Golfo Dulce (SETENA, 2008).  Anecdotal evidence from artisanal fisher folk shows that endangered green and critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles inhabit this area.  An industrial aquaculture project in the area would conflict with Costa Rica’s commitment to protecting turtle populations, and has the local eco-tourism and artisanal fishing sectors concerned over its possible effects on the economy (watch the YouTube video on the tuna farms).  Determining the presence of turtles in this area will better define the possible environmental impact that the project might have on the area.

ARCAE’s sea turtle research/community outreach project will contribute to the local grass roots effort to stop the tuna farms by:

      • Gathering scientific data on the presence of endangered sea turtles in and around the proposed tuna site, by and legally protect the Golfo Dulce’s mouth
      • Educating local children and adults about the importance of environmental protection
      • Supporting the local initiative to establish a marine protected area for this part of the gulf

ARCAE is sponsored by the London based Rufford Small Grants Foundation

          ARCAE has a dedicated board of managers including experts in environmental conservation, sustainable development, education, public relations, and accounting.  They join together in thanking

The Rufford Small Grants Foundation

              for providing initial funding for this project. 
              If you would like more information on this initiative, including ways you can participate and support it, please contact Andy Bystrom at

             and/or Ingrid Rojas at

2 Responses to “Introducing ARCAE: Coastal Conservation and Education”
  1. sarah says:

    Congratulations Andy! This is an extremely important initiative! Keep up the great work!

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