Our history

The Alexander Skutch Bird Refuge – Los Cusingos, was from 1941 the farm where the naturalist Alexander Skutch lived and from 1950 with his wife Pamela Lankester, until the day of his death. Skutch himself was the one who named this farm Los Cusingos, in honor of the Fiery-billed Aracari.
 
Concerned about the fate of his farm, in 1993 Skutch decided to sell this property to the Tropical Science Center, an organization he trusted would take care of his farm and carry on his legacy.
 
More than 80 years of conservation have been the result of what began as a study farm. This is one of the longest-lived and most representative forests of what the forest of the Valle de el General used to be like, that Skutch was able to describe in his books, representing a genetic reservoir for amphibians such as salamanders (Bolitoglossa lignicolor), mammals such as the puma (Puma concolor) and birds such as the Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus).

Who we are

The Tropical Science Center is the first non-governmental organization founded in Costa Rica for the conservation of the environment and the development of projects in sustainable development.
 
It currently develops multiple conservation projects and has its own system of private reserves. It also plays a leading role in the Network of Natural Reserves of Costa Rica and is collaborating in different projects with the National System of Conservation Areas.
 
The Alexander Skutch Bird Refuge – Los Cusingos is part of the Private Reserves System of the Tropical Science Center. This system functions as a model of private conservation and is based on community outreach, research, and sustainable tourism. In addition to Los Cusingos, it includes the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, the San Luis Biological Reserve, and the Kelady Forest Reserve. It also includes the biological corridors where the reserves are located.
 
To learn more about the Tropical Science Center you can visit our website www.cct.or.cr
 
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Our Programs

Research Program


Our research program seeks to generate quality information that contributes to decision-making for the management and protection of our protected area and its area of influence.
 
Thanks to the research carried out in Los Cusingos over the years, we have taxonomic baselines that serve as a starting point for understanding the interactions that occur in these forests and how they are affected over time.
The most relevant research projects currently underway are: the study of the populations and habitats of the Harlequin Toad (Atelopus varius), to develop strategies to help its conservation, the continuous monitoring of the dynamics of Los Cusingos forest, periodic monitoring of weather conditions, monitoring of orchid species in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor (CoBAS), the floristic study of the forest (Project Flora Generaleña), and the annual “Los Cusingos Bird Count”, which involves the study of avifaunal diversity with citizen participation.
 
The program is also in charge of coordinating and supporting research from universities, research centers and independent researchers and receiving students interested in science through their internships or theses, using our living laboratory.
 
If you wish to see the research that we develop in this protected area or in general the scientific knowledge generated by the Tropical Science Center, you can visit our digital library or if you wish to contact our research team you can do so by emailing jaraya@cct.or.cr.

Enviromental Education Program


Our environmental education program aims to raise awareness of the importance of natural resources through bio-literacy processes and capacity building.
 
For this reason, we have created alliances with organizations that make environmental efforts to generate a greater impact on the educational activities that are being carried out from the Refuge, as is the case of the Program Knowing Our Biodiversity (CONUBI in spanish), aimed at children in the Perez Zeledon district and covering topics of biological importance such as knowledge of birds and mammals, the importance of biological corridors, water resource conservation, agroecology, responsible consumption and forest fire prevention. This program works in alliance with UNDP’s Productive Landscapes Project, SINAC, NAI, ASANA, Montaña Verde and the Cloudbridge Reserve.
 
Within the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor we are promoting the creation of an environmental education coalition (CEDUCACOBAS) that involves entities such as Casita Azul of the University of York, Asada de Santa Elena and Asada de Cajón, with the objective of channeling efforts in the 7 communities that make up the biological corridor, carrying out educational activities for children and involving the adult population in environmental processes, thus improving waste management with the support of the Municipality of Pérez Zeledón.

Our team

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José Antonio Araya Orozco

José has a degree in Forestry Engineering from Tecnológico de Costa Rica. He is in charge of coordinating and developing research projects for decision making in Los Cusingos Bird Refuge and in Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor.

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Lizeth Hidalgo Picado

 
In charge of implementing the environmental education program at Los Cusingos. An engineer in Forestry and Wildlife Sciences by training and manager of naturalistic and agroecological projects, she is passionate about sharing experiences to promote sustainable development inside and outside COBAS.

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  Abigail Valderramos Villanueva

Professional in Ecological Tourism from the University of Costa Rica. She assists the Ecotourism Management Program of the Dr. Alexander Skutch Bird Refuge “Los Cusingos”, in the implementation of good practices of sustainable tourism in a protected wildlife area. In addition, she carries out and proposes actions that guarantee a satisfactory visitor experience, as well as accompaniment to tourism entrepreneurships in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor.

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 Mario Mejía  Montoya

Mario is the manager of Los Cusingos Bird Refuge. He is in charge of coordinating the Refuge’s programs as well as promoting sustainability and quality of life projects with nature-based solutions. He coordinates joint efforts with the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor and executes the management plans for the Refuge and COBAS.