International Canopy Access Workshop

April 24-30, 2005


This International Canopy Access Workshop (ICAW) in Costa Rica is intended to provide individuals and organizations interested in tropical rainforests, an introduction to methods of canopy access. The canopy of the tropical rainforests is difficult to observe and study, but it is where the majority of birds, mammals, and other animals, and plants live. ICAW would be of interest to researchers, educators, nature tourism operators, parks developers, international assistance staff (e.g. UN, USAID), foresters, conservationists, and planners of ecologically sustainable economic development, such as nature lodges.


ICAW is planned to be an on site and "hands-on" introduction to four methods of enhancing the experience of accessing the "high frontier" of the forest canopy.

Topics to be covered:
  1. Site selection
  2. Evaluation of trees
  3. Personnel safety
  4. Climbing techniques
  5. Review of equipment and materials (what and why?)
  6. Systems design
  7. Installation techniques
  8. Sequence of installation
  9. Engineering criteria
  10. Prolonging longevity of trees used
  11. Costs
  12. Management and maintenance
  13. Business opportunities
  14. Fund raising


The four methods of canopy access to be reviewed and locations are:

  • Methods Locations
  • Harness and ropes system--Villa Lapas, near Carara National Park Canopy zip lines Villa Lapas
  • Canopy walkway systems Rainmaker Conservation Project, near Queqos and Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Canopy tram Near Jaco and Carara National Park


Nalini Nadkarni, PhD is a pioneer in canopy research and is widely known as the "Queen of the Canopy." Featured in a National Geographic film "Heroes of the High Frontier," she is an expert in using rope systems to access the canopy and has done outstanding research on the biology of epiphytes, especially in Monte Verde, Costa Rica.

Enrique Pacheco is owner, designer, and operator of the canopy zip line at Villa Lapas. He has successfully demonstrated the attractiveness of canopy adventures to tourists interested in rainforests. The economic success of Villa Lapas has preserved nearly 800 acres of tropical rain forest in the "buffer zone" next to Carara National Park, Costa Rica.

Amos Bien is a well-known conservationist working in Costa Rica since the early 1980's. An accomplished ecologist, he has also developed at Rara Avis unique, innovative methods to make rainforests attractive, safe, and educational to tourists while providing good income for the local people. He has great positive influence on the Costa Rican government in establishing new Nationals Parks and on policy matters. He also worked with Don Perry on the proto-type of the canopy tram. Tom Ainsworth is greatly experienced in installing canopy walkways and has worked in Brazil, Ghana, Guyana, Peru, and Singapore. Tom is an excellent instructor and is uncompromising on safety. He has done many years of canopy research on canopy nesting birds in British Columbia.

Illar Muul. PhD, designed and used canopy walkways for research beginning in 1968 in Malaysia. In 1988 he applied the canopy walkways to enhance nature tourism in Malaysia and China. Since then he and his colleagues have been requested to install canopy walkways in Costa Rica, Ghana, Guyana, Peru (2), Singapore, and four more in Malaysia.

Other resource people may be added to this list once news of this workshop spreads.


This workshop is planned for April 24-30, 2005. The canopy access workshop is planned to be followed by another week-long workshop on Nature Interpretation. We will be posting information on that workshop soon.


US$2,800.00 for one week includes instructors, workshop materials and literature, local travel, hotels, meals, entry fees to the Canopy Tram, Rainmaker, and Villa Lapas.


Integrated Conservation Research--

The International Canopy Network email:

The International Ecotourism Society and the Center for Sustainable Development -

Global Canopy Program


Illar Muul, PhD, President
Integrated Conservation Research
P.O.Box 63
Braddock Heights, MD 21714, USA.
Tel/Fax: 1 301 371 8988;


Ryan Moore
Director of Training and Education
The InternationalEcotourism Society
733 15th Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, D.C.
20005, USA.

Tel: 202 347 9203
Fax: 202 387 7915



Please send payment in US dollars only. US$500.00 deposit is required by 15 February 2005 to secure your position (US$300.00 is refundable if ICR is notified before 15 March). Balance to be paid by 15 March 2005 (no refunds after 15 March, 2005). Please send cashier's check or money order payable to: Integrated Conservation Research, Inc., P.O.Box 63, Braddock Heights, MD 21714, USA.

A maximum of 30 people will be accepted (first come, first served.) If demand warrants it, we plan to offer a second workshop in late 2005.