My friendship with Alvaro Ugalde goes back to 1991, when he encouraged me to collect donations in Austria to save the Esquinas forest in the Osa region. Without Alvaro, I would have never founded the NGO Rainforest of the Austrians and become an avid environmentalist. With his help, Piedras Blancas NP was created and the area was rescued from being destroyed by loggers. Alvaro gave a rousing speech at Vienna University on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of our organization; he was a genial lobbyist and fundraiser.
My last memory of Alvaro goes back to only four days before his death: we had a meeting with President Solìs and Environment Minister Gutierrez concerning the illegal gold miners in Corcovado, in which Alvaro expressed his concern about the destruction and urged the President to create more permanent jobs for park rangers. As usual, Alvaro was intense and passionate, and he stated that he was willing to return to Osa as park director because he was convinced that he could solve many of the problems.
I sincerely hope that others will continue his legacy. I miss him as a conservationist and as a good personal friend.Michael Schnitzler
Here are possibly the very last photos of Alvaro, which I took on February 11, 2015, only four days before his death.