The La Gamba Field Station is situated near the Pacific coast of southern Costa Rica, 8 km NNW of the town of Golfito in Puntarenas province. It is part of the small community of La Gamba, and is only 4 km off the Pan-American Highway. Nearby Golfito has an airfield served by several flights a day from the capital, San José.
The La Gamba Field Station lies at the foot of a valley on the edge of the Piedras Blancas National Park, one of the last remaining areas of primary lowland tropical rainforest in Central America. The national park is bounded by the Golfo Dulce gulf to the south and the Río Esquinas river to the north-west, from which the forest takes its alternative name of Bosque Esquinas. Thanks to the area’s geography and geology, the forest is home to around 3,000 species of vascular plants, making it the most diverse forest in Central America and one of the most diverse forests in the world. In 1991, part of the forest was saved from destruction when it was bought using funds raised by the Viennese musician Prof. Michael Schnitzler from the Austrian public; as a result, this area is now known as the Regenwald der Österreicher (“Rainforest of the Austrians”). The Verein Regenwald der Österreicher continues to collect donations and runs a hotel close to the field station – the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
Corcovado National Park is located on the Osa Peninsula, just across the Golfo Dulce, and the two national parks are connected by a number of other protected areas. The smaller Golfito Nature Reserve (Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Golfito) adjoins the south-eastern edge of the Piedras Blancas National Park.
The role of the field station
The rainforest is a favourite destination for many kinds of scientific research. The La Gamba Field Station offers practical facilities and a base for field work. This includes accommodation for students and research groups during taught courses (such as practical projects and excursions) and research activities, as well as scientific workshops.
Alongside support for research and teaching, projects to restore the forest (reforestation) and reconnect isolated fragments of forest (corridor projects) are core activities of the field station.
We also work closely with the indigenous people of La Gamba. Social projects and activities, especially our schools project, support the needs of the local population.
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Estación Tropical La Gamba
Fax: 00506 27418234
Universität Wien, Department für Botanik und Biodiversitätsforschung
Rennweg 14, 1030 Wien, Austria
Tel: 0043 1 4277 57420
Fax: 0043 1 4277 9541