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Piedras Blancas National Park
The Piedras Blancas National Park, formerly called Esquinas National Park or Corcovado Section II, was established in 1992 as an extension of the Corcovado National Park. The park borders the Golfito Forest Reserve in the East. In the West the park is connected with the Corcovado National Park by a forest corridor (Rincon) that unfortunately is highly threatened by illegal logging.
The Piedras Blancas National Park covers 30'000 acres of undisturbed humid tropical primary rainforest and 5'000 acres of secondary forests, pasture land and rivers consisting primarily of hills of varied steepness, over one hundred stream valleys, a river plateau and coastal cliffs and beaches. A study by Austrian biologists recently revealed that the diversification of tree species counted on different areas of 10'000 sq.m each exceeds the variety of trees found in the Corcovado National Park that makes this area even more important to conserve. The scientific study will be publicated in 2001.
Geologically the area consists mainly of a base of pillow basalts, 50 to 60 million years old, covered by different types of conglomerates dated an average of 1 to 2 million years old. The streams carry auriferous sands, fortunately with relatively low yields, thus gold mining has been only artisanal, in consequence it has not inflicted serious damage to either the streams or the surrounding forest. A common feature of the area is the abundance of ground water, sometimes found as shallow as 5 or 6 feet.
The seasons are not clearly defined, although most of the rain (100" to 150") falls during the rainy season (April to November). The average yearly temperature is around 80F (29º), with minima and maxima oscillating between 70F and 90F. The air humidity remains at relatively high levels, permitting the growth of a large variety of ferns.
Different private scientific projects have chosen the remote area of the Piedras Blancas National Park for the reintroduction of the highly endangered scarlet macaw to establish a third self-sustaining population and the release of confiscated ocelots and margays formerly held as pets in private households.
Scientific researches revealed that the flora at Piedras Blancas National Park is among the richest on the planet, encompassing several thousand different species of plants and hundreds species of trees and some very rare and in danger of extinction. The trees are very similar to the Corcovado area and include: ceiba, nazareno, manú, fruta dorada, cristóbal, cedro macho, higuerón, mayo colorado, cerillo, maria, níspero, panamá, tostao, botarrama, camíbar, guabo, lechoso, guayabón, espavel, pochote, etc.
The fauna is composed by approximately 140 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, over 100 species of amphibians and reptiles and several thousands species of insects: Among them all 5 species of felines that live in Costa Rica: puma, ocelot, margay, jaguaroundi and jaguar and all 4 species of monkeys: howler monkey, spider monkey, white-faced capuchin monkey and squirrel monkey. Further the common raccoon, coati, kinkajou, skunk, anteater, four-eyed opossum, collared and white-lippped peccary, paca, agouti, red-brocket deer, tayra and long-nosed armadillo, etc. More than 330 species of birds have also been identified in the different ecosystems of the area - including chestnut-mandibled toucans, fiery-billed aracari, several species of parrots, hummingbirds and trogons, crested guan, great curassow, king vulture, crested eagle, osprey, laughing falcon, black-cheeked ant-tanager, tiger-bittern, golden-hooded tanager, roseate spoonbill, boat-billed heron, northern jacana, spectacled owl, etc. Reptiles include the cayman, the American crocodile, fer-de-lance snake, bushmaster snake, several coral snakes, various species of poisonous frogs, glass frog, several kinds of basilisks, ctenosaurus, common iguana, etc.
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