Costa Rican biologist Maria José Mata Quirós works in one of the most biologically diverse hotspots in the world—Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, which holds 2.5% of the biodiversity of the entire planet in less than 0.0001% of the planet’s total surface area. Here, she coordinates botanical research and restoration of the Osa Arboretum—a trail network that extends more than 20km through the region’s primary and secondary forests. “You can imagine the kind of tree diversity that we can find,” she says.
Maria’s goal is to showcase that biodiversity, engaging people from around the world and especially the young residents of the peninsula. Throughout the trail network, one can find plaques with QR codes that, when scanned, point back to the arboretum’s website. This allows people to receive more information on the various species throughout the arboretum, as well as seeing pictures of the flowers and leaves that might be difficult to spot from ground level.
As part of Maria’s restoration work, she collects seeds to be nursed into seedlings, which will be replanted. It can take hundreds of years for some species to grow to their majestic heights, while others can be restored in less time. Maria boasts of one particularly rare tree that was nearly extinct a few years ago, but now numbers in the hundreds due to her team’s efforts. Last year, she says, they planted 30,000 trees on the peninsula, and plan to double that number this year. That’s why “on a typical Saturday morning, I will be walking on the arboretum trails, collecting seeds,” she says.
About Maria José Mata Quirós
Maria José Mata Quirós is the Restoration & Rewilding Program Coordinator at Osa Conservation. She dedicates her time to conserving and restoring tropical forests. As a solutions-oriented conservation scientist, María José develops novel techniques to kick-start rainforest generation and shares these techniques to facilitate the success of other restoration initiatives.
About Women Blaze Trails Festival:
In celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11), LenovoEDU sponsored Women Blaze Trails, a virtual 3-day festival celebrating women in science, exploration, and conservation from around the world.
The virtual festival had one simple goal: celebrating incredible women, doing incredible things around the world, day in and day out. We’re sharing these videos from the festival so you can meet scientists, explorers, conservationists, filmmakers, photographers and more, showcasing their work, challenges, adventures, research and expeditions.
Image description: Portrait of Maria José Mata Quirós and a NASA satellite image of the Osa Peninsula.