Costa Rica: A tropical e(coto)xperience – Part 6

In this series of posts, Carsten Brühl reports about his current trip to Costa Rica. Part 6 is all about his guest lecture in the “Tropical Ecotoxicology” masters program at National University of Costa Rica.

Students of the “Tropical Ecotoxicology” masters program together with Freylan, Clemens and me (photo by C. Brühl)

I was invited to come to the National University of Costa Rica to meet the students of the “Tropical Ecotoxicology” masters program and teach in a course on environmental risk assessment. In this course, colleagues from Coimbra and Aveiro are also involved, namely Paulo Sousa, Isabel Lopez and Matilde Santos. Matilde was present during my part of the course and will continue with practical environmental assessments in the following weeks.

Freylan and Clemens discussing environmental pesticide risk assessment in the classroom (photo by C. Brühl)

I had three days with the group to deliver the European regulatory approach to environmental pesticide risk assessment. We covered aquatic and terrestrial guidance documents and opinions for a comprehensive overview of the current risk assessment state. The exposure and effect studies required for risk assessment were discussed lively. One of the main objectives of this part of the course was to relate the European procedures to Costa Rica.

Motmot in a tree on campus (photo by C. Brühl)

Here in Costa Rica we have an extremely high tropical biodiversity where we do not know much about the distribution and sensitivity of organisms in the different agricultural landscapes reaching from lowland banana and pineapple plantations to coffee, potatoes and vegetables in the highlands. Exposure models taking into account European climate conditions are not comparable to these situations. Moreover, agricultural production in Costa Rica uses high volumes of pesticides and is occuring year-round without any winter break.

It was a real pleasure for me to meet this interactive group of students that really got immersed into our discussions. At this point, I am near the end of my trip, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone. The unforgettable dinner at the foot of Volcan Barva was a perfect ending to my stay in Costa Rica. I hope we will all stay in touch and meet again – in Costa Rica or in Germany.