As an Earthwatch scientist, Margot Wood studies ways to balance agriculture with biodiversity.
Why Costa Rica?
“Costa Rica is at the forefront of conservation policy. The National Biological Corridors policy is a large project involving private landowners, government offices, and NGOs. I find this multiscale collaboration fascinating. This work inspires me because I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area near a park used for cattle, recreation, and conservation. I see such multiuse areas as keys to conserving biodiversity.”
A great moment in the field:
“For a USDA zoonotic disease project, I visited sheep farmers in California. One visit was to the Pitchfords, who owned their land for more than 100 years. They insisted we cancel our hotel and share their home for the week. In the evenings, we circled the cast-iron stove while snow fell outside, and they told how they personally enacted private reserves on their land. The next morning they took me to see the protected areas. From a horse-drawn wagon, with five sheepdogs in tow, we toured snow-covered valleys where we saw tracks of animals ranging from mountain lions to rabbits."
“Exploring the natural world with this family was amazing; they were so knowledgeable about their land. While they rejected the conservationist title, they lived landscape conservation daily because of a deep love and respect for their land. These were the people enacting change.”