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April 23, 2008
Black Diamond students raising awareness
ENUMCLAW, Washington (STPNS) -- With Earth Day just behind us, Sara Davis? Black Diamond Elementary School third-grade students are busy raising awareness about the rainforest.
They?re also selling T-shirts. Through the Earth Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, for every 10 shirts they sell the money can save one acre of rainforest. They have a chart in the school?s hallway keeping the student body posted on how many acres they?ve saved.
This isn?t the first time Davis? class has instigated the program at Black Diamond, but this year they have a goal to save 25 acres. The Earth Foundation has earmarked the Osa rainforest in Costa Rica as its target.
?It gets the kids to feel like they can make a difference somewhere,? Davis said.
The Earth Foundation is the world?s largest in-school conservation organization. It?s purpose is to empower educators and students to work toward a sustainable economy, a just society and a healthy environment. Its focus is on education, fundraising for conservation, and cooperative programs with conservation groups and indigenous organizations working in the race to save the planet.
Davis said the program ties in with the class?s rainforest curriculum, as well as other areas of the curriculum.
?The whole school participates,? Davis said. ?We just spearheaded it.?
According to the Earth Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, there?s good reason to save the Osa.
The Osa is less than half the size of Rhode Island. The Corcovado National Park there contains at least 13 major ecosystems, including lowland forests, cloud forests, mangrove and freshwater swamps, lagoons, beaches and coral reefs. The forests of the Osa are home to between 4,000 and 5,000 species of vascular plants, including more than 700 species of trees, many of which are endangered.
Biologists estimate that between 2 and 3 percent of the flora of the Osa exists nowhere else on Earth. One study found the forest to be in natural balance, with no single species of plant or tree dominating any other?a clear sign of a robust and healthy ecosystem.
The forests of the Osa host a wealth of mammals, birds, reptiles and insects ? many found nowhere else in Central America. The Osa is home to more than 375 species of birds (of which 18 are endemic), 124 species of mammals, 40 species of freshwater fish, approximately 8,000 species of insects and 117 species of reptiles and amphibians. The species recorded in the Osa represent up to 50 percent of the species known to exist in Costa Rica. The Osa contains Costa Rica?s largest population of the endangered scarlet macaw, as well as Central America?s largest population of squirrel monkeys.
Large cats such as jaguar, puma and ocelots survive here, and the protected terrain of Corcovado National Park is also a critical stronghold for other wide-ranging mammals such as tapir and whitelipped peccaries. Peccaries have all but disappeared from the rest of the country?s Pacific coast, but packs of up to 80 animals still move through the forest of Corcovado, serving as the jaguar?s primary prey.
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