Making the Connection: Reforestation in the Bellbird Corridor of Costa Rica

By Costa Rica Ecological Forecasting Team , posted on November 17th, 2013 in DEVELOP Fall 2013 VPS


2011 Landsat 5 image highlighting vegetation in the Pájaro Campana
Biological Corridor. Image Credit: Costa Rica Ecological Forecasting Team, NASA DEVELOP National Program.

Team Location: University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

Caren Remillard, Project Lead (University of Georgia)
Kirstin Valdes (University of Georgia)
Becky Lynn (University of Georgia)
Ning Chen (University of Georgia)

Nathan P. Nibbelink, Ph.D. (University of Georgia, School of Forestry and Natural Resources)
Marguerite Madden, Ph.D. (University of Georgia, Center for Geospatial Research)

Past/Other Contributors:
Megan Kise (Georgia Southern University)

The Pájaro Campana Biological Corridor (PCBC) stretches from the cloud forests of Monteverde to the mangroves off the Gulf of Nicoya within Costa Rica. It provides habitat for 83 mammalian species and nearly 500 bird species, many of which are endemic or classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Additionally, the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica serve as critical habitat for seasonal and neotropical migrant birds. Since the majority of the 664 square kilometers of land within the PCBC is privately owned, it is crucial that private landowners are included in conservation efforts. University of Georgia Costa Rica, a PCBC Council member, contributes to reforestation efforts by housing and operating a tree nursery and providing saplings for private landowners with the hope of increasing forest connectivity. Partnering with the university, this study utilized NASA Earth observations along with RapidEye satellite imagery to assess current land cover for prioritization of reforestation efforts within the PCBC. Separate land cover classification images and baseline maps were constructed from Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper and 5-m RapidEye imagery, acquired for 2011 and 2009-2010, respectively, using a parallel methodology approach. They were then compared to improve understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each data source with regard to forest connectivity and land-cover characterization. Juxtaposing results from continuous and free medium-resolution Landsat imagery, to privately managed high-resolution RapidEye imagery reveals each sensor’s strengths, limitations and contributions to management and reforestation efforts in this area. Ultimately, the project’s products aimed to quantitatively support future priorities for planting and monitoring of forest connectivity within the PCBC, as well as provide a visual understanding of the impacts of reforestation to landowners and other decision-makers in the Costa Rican community.

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I am envious of your trip. Traveling to Cost Rica would be a fantastic experience. The reforestation project is a big issues that needs to be discussed Internationally. I hope that your project brought a little more light upon the problem.

Amber Kuss
Amber Kuss

Interesting project! How is FRAGSTATS used and what type of information does it provide?


Interesting read and fun video!  Nice work on the project.  Did the study only look at where plant life was altogether sparse, or was there also an indication of which plant species were under populated? 

Chase Mueller
Chase Mueller

Awesome footage! Looks like someone had some fun.

Anyway, you guys mentioned that you compared Landsat to Rapid Eye, but did you guys discuss what you found in those comparisons? It's possible I missed something or misunderstood something and if that's the case, I apologize.

Sam Weber
Sam Weber

That's so awesome that most of you have been there before, it looks amazing! How did you get the RapidEye imagery?


@ChaseMueller that's a good question, Chase.  I saw there were definitely some differences between the Landsat and Rapid Eye images.  I'm going to make sure I follow up on this blog to find out how the team answers you!