With “Operation Rich Coast” Costa Rican Environmentalists Unify Criteria for Maritime Conservation

    Sandy Schmidt, a passionate conservationist making a difference in Costa Rica

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    Costa Rica is a nation that has an extraordinary natural beauty with incredible marine and terrestrial ecosystems that motivates anyone in the world to make this country their home by loving its enchanting nature”. This is how environmentalist Sandy Schmidt sees it.

    Sandy Schmidt is a passionate environmentalist of German origin who came to Costa Rica 13 years ago for an internship in the tourism sector, but decided to make Costa Rica her home captivated by its natural beauty. Sandy says that from the first moment she observed the amazing biodiversity of flora and fauna that cannot be enjoyed in other latitudes of our planet, it completely transformed her life.

    “Since I was a child I have been fascinated by nature and wildlife, always being in contact with the environment, sharing with all its surroundings, and Costa Rica gave me the opportunity to broaden my horizon of life, welcoming me for opportunity to work here, initially in tourism, hospitality and marketing, and currently I have a digital marketing company focusing on business in the tourism sector with a strong sustainability values,” Sandy said.

    The activist states that the beautiful landscapes of Costa Rica is what has mainly motivated to give all of her effort in this magic place by contributing a grain of sand to making this territory one of the regions of Latin America with the greatest environmental conservation of its maritime and land areas, protecting what nature has bestowed on all of us.

    Inspired by the love for nature

    Inspired by this love for nature, Sandy began her work in conservation 13 years ago when she arrived to Costa Rica and supported all of the 4 local NGO’s focusing on Wildlife Conservation: Titi Conservation Alliance, Asomacao, Kids Saving the Rainforest and The Sloth Institute. Asomacao is a reintroduction program that reintroduced the Scarlet Macaw in the area of Manuel Antonio National Park after 40 years of extinction.

    However, she began to observe with another friend that some very serious environmental problems were evident in the coastal areas of the nation, due to the permanent accumulation of styrofoam, plastic and glass that cause damage to these ecosystems, evidencing that in the country there was no efficient collection system that would contribute in the short term to solving coastal environmental problems.

    Operation Rich Coast

    Hence in 2017, Sandy Schmidt together with Julie Vigeault, who is also a passionate conservationist founded “Operation Rich Coast” dedicated to the conservation of marine biodiversity, their main concern is about the massive presence of polluting objects on the beaches of Costa Rica that cause deterioration of the environment and puts the natural beauty of the nation at risk with the loss of these vital ecosystems for humanity.

    Hence, these two exemplary women decide to unite their knowledge and work experiences to start a national project for beach cleanups, through the creation of awareness campaigns to motivate more individuals, communities and eventually creating alliances with other organizations and movements in the country.

     “At first, the task of beach cleanup was not easy, because not all the environmental organizations in Costa Rica had a defined north, several were scattered. So the first objective that the NGO Operation Rich Coast achieved was to get everyone together for the same purpose which is the conservation of the country`s coast and the protection of wildlife, demonstrating in this way that when communities and movements unite for a common cause they are stronger, and in addition projecting the country as one of the territories in the world with the greatest biodiversity and natural beauty. Our most important value as NGO is to work in union with other movements and organizations as no organization alone is able to tackle complex environmental problems that we are facing today in Costa Rica and on the planet”, Sandy states.

    “Only One” environmental awareness platform

    Sandy is also part of the “Only One”, this technological marketing and environmental awareness platform that currently has headquarters in San José where 20 young enthusiastic people work in coordination at the national level with more than 200 organizations that voluntarily participate with them in the conservation task of the country`s beach zones.

    Among the activities that they are carrying out at the moment is the reduction of trawl fishing and the fight to remove shark species from commercialization status to protected marine life, in addition to promoting environmental conservation laws and other themes related to nature. They currently carry out clean-ups, reforestations and campaigns for wildlife and marine life conservation.

    Projects move ahead

    “For me, Operation Rich Coast and the Only One platform are more than environmental movements, they are a school of leadership that trains and creates environmental awareness in young people on issues that they often do not learn at the university, but rather through daily collective practice, allowing them to assimilate new ideas and projects with organized teamwork, expanding more and more to other places, and soon we will have new headquarters in the La Fortuna zone with which we will continue to strengthen our conservation work, expanding our reach to other communities in Costa Rica ”, concluded Schmidt.

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