What is La Esperanza?
An Invitation to Collaborate:
This project is ambitious, and while I am confident of my own knowledge and experience in design, construction, customer service and nature interpretation, there is great need for the expertise of others. Priorities include conducting a complete baseline study of the site, evaluating the relationship between forest fragments in the region, developing interpretive materials for the site and identifying the needs of bird and general ecological tourists. I hope everyone will feel free to offer any and all advice on these topics, or suggestions as to where to find it.
Unique about this endeavor:
will be the presence of the project owner and manager on site at all times. Many such facilities have been run with less than optimal efficiency and service due to absentee landlords. I will personally design all facilities, conduct their construction and directly supervise kitchen and other areas of customer service. This also applies to any and all project activities related to funding, property acquisition, research and conservation.
Birding La Esperanza:
Although the area would be described as rural, the La Esperanza site has a lot to offer birders; it has enough native tree-cover and mixed habitat to offer an impressive species list as is and the potential to reforest and expand this uniquely accessible forest fragment to a reserve of some merit is great. Further, a sophisticated network of trails, observation points and feeders will make working the site efficient. The lodge will make an excellent base for visiting important existing projects in the region such as The Yellow-eared Parrot Reserve and the Las Tangaras Reserve.
A Broader View:
I am promoting La Esperanza as an ecological resort. Certainly, many birders will use the lodge for little more than a comfortable night or two in a busy birding schedule, but it can offer much more. There is a niche to be exploited for those that wish to slow down a bit and get to know some interesting regional specialties more intimately. A quality birding experience here would include comfortable night walks on safe trails, a variety of active feeders in natural locations and access to sophisticated, multi-media materials for interpreting flora & fauna. It can also include a surprising degree of comfort, service and tranquility. Riding bicycles and horses and swimming in a natural pond will offer relaxing ways to exercise, while a shuttle service will take visitors into the nearby center of Jardín for some local culture.
Conservation & research:
Development of La Esperanza as a reserve and business will be based to a great extent on information. Studies of the site and region are needed, as well as long-term monitoring of populations and re-forestation efforts. To this end, within several years I will build a research facility with 6-8 beds, a kitchen and several work stations. Professors and students from both national and international universities will be invited to conduct studies of our mutual interest. It is hoped that we can also link up with other scientific and conservation projects already underway in the region. Some topics of personal and professional interest include population biology, conservation genetics, reforestation techniques and ecological corridors.
The birders’ cluster is far enough up the ridgeline to be very quiet, but close enough to the entrance to be convenient. Two cabins with six double rooms will sleep at least twelve. A full kitchen with dining and lounge area will pro- vide the option of self-contained groups looking for more privacy. Decks and walkways will connect these cabins with the innkeeper’s apartment, an advantage with respect to recieving personal service at odd hours. The lodge center will have a full-service restaurant/bar, a multi-media entertainment center and meeting rooms. Several large decks will take advantage of the dramatic views of the town of Jardín and the Western Andes. The restaurant menu will offer both local and international fare, drawing from La Esperanza’s own gardens, as well as fresh dairy, meats and produce from neighboring farms. Public areas along the road by the entrance will have extensive gardens and orchards, as well as a long natural pond suit-able for swimming. Large-scale composting will recycle organic material and nutrients. Visitors will be invited to stroll and relax here, appreciating both the natural and built aspects of the environment. As with the wilder trails on the site, native and exotic flora and fauna will be clearly labeled and part of the interpretive apps available on hand-held electronic devices.
To date, I have had excellent relations with my neighbors and associates in town. Continuing good community relations is very important to me and this is another area where I would appreciate advice as to how to procede. One place I need to step carefully is with respect to property purchases;; I need to expand both the private establishment and the greater reserve without giving the idea that resources are unlimited and thereby driving prices up. In the greater context, I hope to see La Esperanza as an integral part of national and private reserve networks. We share thegoals of habitat preservation, reforestation and environmental education. In the light of increased mining pressures recently, our combined efforts become even more important.