Workshops we offer at CIRENAS:

Organization of Tropical Studies - Tropical Biology Course

Organization of Tropical Studies - Tropical Biology Course


CIRENAS offers experiential, field-based programs comprised of modules on topics such as natural history, tropical biology and ecology, conservation, agricultural production and permaculture, rural development, and environmental policy, among others. The modules have been designed to cater to a variety of audiences including high school, undergraduate and graduate students, field practitioners, and people in leadership positions in business, academia, government and NGOs.

Our courses are multi-disciplinary in nature, and cover a breadth of topics that accurately reflect the inter-connectedness of natural, social and productive systems in the tropics. The courses afford different groups the flexibility to delve deeper into themes of particular interest, while remaining engaged in the other topics. We are happy to customize courses to suit your specific needs.

At CIRENAS we also understand that not everyone can join us as part of a school or university course. For that reason, we offer leadership retreats that inspire adults to deepen their connection to self, community and nature. With its breathtaking views, deserted beaches, and commitment to sustainability, CIRENAS is an ideal place to expand your knowledge and reconnect to what is important.

Given CIRENAS privileged location in the Bongo-Ario Watershed and Pacific coast, participants in our courses or leadership retreats have the opportunity to experience first hand a variety of ecosystems, such as lowland tropical forests, mangroves, estuaries, sandy beaches, rocky shores and coral reefs. They are exposed to a diversity of land-management strategies including conservation, permaculture, cattle ranching and a mixed crop production. The courses and leadership retreats are designed to improve understanding about the plight of tropical land and seascapes, and inspire behavioral shifts among participants.




CIRENAS has developed comprehensive permaculture systems on campus. Permaculture, a sustainable agricultural production approach that emulates the diversity, patterns, cycles and features found in nature, is viewed by many as one of the most promising food production systems of the future. This innovative, flagship program not only aims to supply our new campus with seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables to feed our programs and leadership retreat participants and researchers, but will also function as an excellent educational and research platform.

Our staff are have been certified to teach about permaculture and are currently designing a series of trainings for field practitioners. We are ready to share our knowledge and experience with others from around the world. 


Rural Community Development


CIRENAS actively engages with the local community and supports developmental projects that address the most important unmet needs, particularly in regards to food and water security.

For example, we are working on sharing our experience in permaculture with local communities through training, and aim to provide them with seed funding to adopt these sustainable land practices on their own farms. The organization is also planning on supporting the communities in developing water harvesting, protection, and filtration projects, both on the land and at their homes. 

CIRENAS values the relationships it has developed with neighboring communities and is committed to supporting initiatives that will lead to improvements in their livelihoods. We welcome groups and individuals that would like to join us in working with these communities.



CIRENAS is located in the Bongo-Arío Watershed, which plays a critical role in supplying freshwater for human consumption and agricultural production to more than a dozen communities, including key tourism destinations. Within the watershed is the Caletas-Arío National Wildlife Refuge, which CIRENAS co-manages with the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica. This refuge is a critical stepping-stone in a proposed biological corridor that aims to connect the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, Costa Rica’s first protected area, to other private and public reserves dispersed throughout the Nicoya Peninsula. It also boasts the largest marine section of any wildlife refuge in all of the country.

The adequate management of the watershed and the effective protection of the wildlife refuge will be key in ensuring the provision of ecosystems services including potable water, mitigating the effects of climate change and maintaining biodiversity, which supports the local economy through direct harvest, such as fishing, and tourism.

The organization is working to improve the protection and management of the Caletas-Arío Wildlife Refuge, including its terrestrial, freshwater and marine sections, as well as devise a strategy to consolidate the Peninsular Biological Corridor, which connects remaining patches of forests and other ecosystems.