The University of Georgia Costa Rica 2014-2015 Sustainability Report UGA Costa Rica 2014 - 2015 Sustainability Report - Page 47

As displayed in the mission statement, UGA Costa Rica is not only about Costa Rica. It is about the world. It is about making a difference in Monteverde and providing the necessary demonstration techniques so others may continue elsewhere what UGACR has started in San Luis. As UGA Costa Rica enters a new chapter in its evolving tale, the time has come to consider challenges and opportunities lying ahead. During the next 5 to10 years, four areas of special importance stand out: water resource management, alternative energy generation, sustainable agriculture and rural development, and ensuring the health and safety of small, rural communities. Given that climate models for Central America show increased drought frequency for the coming 100 years, how we manage water during wet periods for use during dry periods will become of critical importance. UGACR is currently developing a research agenda to study and build an outreach and education program revolving around best management practices for agriculture and other land uses in the Bellbird Biological Corridor. This would immediately serve the San Luis area and provide a regional model for watershed-scale water resource management. Specific concerns include seasonal flow management, water storage and distribution alternatives, wastewater treatment, and best management practices. As a country, Costa Rica is heavily invested in hydropower for the national grid, using it to meet around 80 percent of national energy needs. The current and upcoming water problems do not bode well for such investment. Opportunities for alternative energy generation abound. Continuing to invest in biogas generation and implementing it as both a cooking and electricity source is one area for growth. Specifically, UGACR may be able to replace diesel purchased for campus generators with biofuel. In Georgia, exploration of biofuel production from native and noninvasive grasses and woody plant materials is already underway. UGACR hopes to translate the findings of this research to Costa Rica. Solar power can be equipped to provide energy for processes besides heating water. By investing in alternative energy generation, we can reduce the reliance on hydro-power for energy and create a more energy secure future for both the campus and the country. Rural communities face many daily stresses. It is important to ensure those in rural communities can make a viable living, one attractive to both younger and older generations. Sustainable agriculture is one option, but it’s only one aspect of a combination of economic activities that will need to take place to cultivate thriving rural communities. Incentivizing ecosystem services and creating multiple income streams will help stabilize the economic conditions of these communities, increasing quality of life. UGACR can help provide a model for this, but more needs to be done in the surrounding community to develop outreach programs serving farmers in our re