This tree's conical spikes store water. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Nicaragua’s Forest Ecosystems

Nicaragua’s varied topography and uneven rainfall distribution, not to mention the presence of tropical reefs, volcanoes, and volcanic crater lakes, result in a phenomenal diversity of terrain and ecosystems.

Guatemala's impressive Maya Biosphere Reserve. Photo © Al Argueta.

Guatemala’s Biosphere Reserves

Guatemala has more than 90 protected areas encompassing about 28 percent of the country’s total land area. Among the different types of protected areas are biosphere reserves, national parks, biotopes, natural monuments, wildlife refuges, and private nature reserves. Several of these are encompassed within larger areas, as is the case with the national parks and biotopes making up the larger Maya Biosphere Reserve.

A small red eyed frog sits perched on a broad leaf.

Protecting Costa Rica’s Land

While much of Costa Rica has been stripped of its forests, the country has managed to protect a larger proportion of its land than any other country in the world. Today, one-third of land is legally set aside as national parks and forest reserves, “buffer zones,” wildlife refuges, and indigenous reserves. Throughout the country, representative sections of all the major habitats and ecosystems are protected.

Aerial view of Lake Amatitlán, on the fringes of Guatemala City. Photo © Al Argueta.

Things to Do at Lake Amatitlán

Lake Amatitlán is in the process of being rescued from what would have been certain ecological death caused by wastewater from nearby industry and uncontrolled urban growth. Though it’s still not possible to swim in the lake’s waters, the area around it is home to very affordable hot springs and spas, and a park with full facilities and picnic areas offering several outdoor activities.

Sea turtles spend most of their lives in the ocean, only returning to land to dig into beach sand to lay their eggs, after which they immediately head back out to the ocean.

Sea Turtle Nesting and Florida Beaches

The Atlantic coast is popular for sea turtles to make their nests, and Florida is a particularly favored place. There are some 70,000 sea turtle nests made annually along the Florida coastline, and most of them are made by loggerhead turtles.

A jaguar rests on the ground in its enclosure at the Belize Zoo.

Volunteer Opportunities in Belize

From conservation efforts to community outreach to opportunities to work with women and children, there are many opportunities for volunteering in Belize. Victoria Day-Wilson shares a sampling of a few well-known organizations.

Black and white photo of John Muir seated on a rock facing right with a lake behind him.

John Muir: Father of the National Parks

What kind of person would fight so passionately to preserve and protect the lands of Yosemite? Moon Yosemite author Ann Marie Brown discusses the life and legacy of John Muir: conservationist, geologist, botanist, mountaineer, prolific writer, mechanical genius, wilderness advocate, and founder and first president of the Sierra Club.

Spiky isote plants grow on a steep hillside on a coffee plantation.

Environmental Issues in Guatemala

Despite conservation efforts, environmental issues can seem daunting at times. Al Argueta discusses deforestation, air quality, open-pit mining, and other issues threatening Guatemala’s natural resources.

Silhouette of a few trees left standing beside a barren wasteland.

An Altered Landscape

ike others who frequently travel across America, I’ve often been lucky enough to experience the same places more than once. Whenever I return to a specific town or region, it’s always comforting to find at least some of my beloved destinations still intact. After arriving in Chicago, for instance, I’m always eager to check out […]