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Guiding in the maze. The meaning of forest interpretatioo

By: Willy Pineda

Tirimbina Biological Reserve (TBR) offers various educational and ecotourism activities which are the most important reasons for people to visit the reserve every year. Natural History walks during the day and night, chocolate tour, frogs, bird watching, bats program and educational activities with ecological and conservation aims are offered.

This wide range of activities generates interesting opportunities and also creates a variety of possibilities for the research department. .

-What is the meaning of forest interpretation at TBR and what personal qualities are required of the Ecotourism staff to address the multidisciplinary and multicultural needs of the visitors regarding the various activities and ecotourism?

Our staff not only has solid training in science, natural history, tourism, customer service, language and other relevant areas they also have extensive experience in education and communication. This is vital because the challenges of forest interpretation are many: knowledge, veracity, synthesis, simplification of complex ideas into easily understood explanations.


Forest interpretation is not an easy process due primarily to the high biodiversity in TBR (about 1200 species of plants, including 97 trees, over 350 species of birds, 103 species of mammals, 825 species of butterflies, 35 species of snakes and reptiles). This means that the correct identification of the plants and animals is a major challenge. In addition, the interpretation of possible, innumerable interrelationships between all these species in ecological processes present is even more complex.

However, the greatest challenge our staff has to face is how to show the effects and impacts that conservation of this high diversity plays on many of the basics of daily life of all human beings such as water uptake, CO2 fixation, O2 production, production and supply of materials, food, medicine, scenic beauty, tourism, enjoyment and more. That is why the most complex phase of the forest interpretation is to synthesize clearly how our everyday actions and decisions are affecting the conservation of the planet’s biodiversity and its reverse effect. Why is this important? Because it means that visitors not only enjoy our work but also learn and take with them motivation to better understand the importance of conservation.

This interpretive process could not be carried out successfully without the synergy of two of the pillars of the policy and rationale of TBR: Research and Education. Without the enormous contribution of the research projects funded or promoted by TBR, our staff would not have the tools and information they do to know and understand the biodiversity, the maze of species and processes found within the tropical rainforest, much less to share it with our visitors. Without the knowledge, tools and skills that education efforts undertaken by TBR provides our staff, we would not be able to relate the importance of the impact that biodiversity conservation has for the benefit of our overall development as a community, for the organization, and for human well- being.

We offer education
programs for
all levels.

Explore the trails and
discover the flora
and fauna of our region.

Research in one of
the most diverse sites
in the world.