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Paso Pacifico

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Wildlife Preservation & Protection

Mission: Founded in 2005, Paso Pacífico's mission is to restore and conserve the natural ecosystems of Central America’s Pacific slope by collaborating with landowners, local communities and involved organizations to promote ecosystem conservation.

Results: Paso Pacifico envisions a Central America where well-managed conservation areas are connected by viable biological corridors that span from ridge to reef, including restored tropical dry forests and marine protected areas. Through programs informed by the most cutting-edge conservation science and implemented through close cooperation with local communities, Paso Pacifico is making leaps for ecosystem conservation. By rebuilding forests and connecting ecosystems from land to sea, we are actively combating climate change and saving wildlife, such as endangered sea turtle, spider monkey, and yellow-naped parrot species. In working towards its vision, Paso Pacifico empowers communities to develop more sustainable livelihoods in eco-tourism, fishing, agriculture, and natural resource management; advances women and children as environmental leaders; and develops strong, collaborative relationships with private landowners and the private sector. With our holistic, forward-thinking approach, Paso Pacifico is making connections for conservation.

Target demographics: conserve and restore natural ecosystems

Direct beneficiaries per year: planted 250,000 native trees and will sequester 150,000 tons of carbon over the next 40 years

Geographic areas served: Nicaragua

Programs: environmental education, endangered species monitoring and research, forest restoration & reforestation, private land conservation, and community outreach. Conserve Coastal & Marine Ecosystems Strengthen Communities Save Wildlife Reforestation & Restoration Coastal Conservation Private Reserves Climate Change Mitigation

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I worked directly with Paso Pacifico to support their female-ran collective aquaculture development project in southwest Nicaragua. I travelled to remote locations to consult Paso Pacifico in development of rock oyster growing operations. This NP has a clear goal to provide sustainable seafood options for rural communities, while promoting cultural development and opportunities for women. What a fantastic combination! The team at Paso Pacifico are among the most motivated and hard working people I know, and I look forward to any opportunity to collaborate with them again. Cheers : )

Cortney V.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Paso Pacifico is a small nonprofit that has accomplished major conservation goals in Nicaragua, empowering locals to care for their environment through tree planting, wildlife monitoring, entrepreneurship, and many other avenues. Their education programs have reached hundreds of children, encouraging them to become stewards for the environment by picking up trash, exchanging slingshots for birding binoculars, and many other fun and engaging activities. Paso Pacifico has trained former poachers to become turtle rangers, patrolling beaches for illegal activities and providing them with meaningful employment and respectable wages. The organization has also pledged their support to women, creating and supporting female-owned cooperatives and businesses.
I had the great pleasure of working for Paso Pacifico in their US headquarters for several years, and helped create a small spider monkey sanctuary for the organization. I maintain that the Founder and Executive Director, Sarah Otterstrom, is one of the most kindhearted, driven, and passionate women I have ever met. I continue to be impressed by what she and her team are able to accomplish each year.


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Even before it was founded, I wrote about Paso Pacifico's founder, her research, and the needs this NGO addresses. At the time, I was producing environmental education curricula in the Czech Republic for a non-profit I eventually directed. I was genuinely inspired by the founder's story and how clearly she saw the tough choices faced by conservationists in the developing world. A few years later, after spending time in Central America and growing passionate about the need for economic development and biodiversity conservation in the region, I grew more involved with the organization.

Paso Pacifico is a U.S.-based 501c3, but it has genuine community buy-in throughout Nicaragua. The first time I visited the Paso del Istmo, everyone I met would use the pronoun "we" to talk about Paso Pacifico's work. These were not employees or even volunteers. These were local farmers, fishermen, landowners, entrepreneurs, and kids who were bursting with pride to be a part of such an important movement in their part of the world.

I know from my time in Washington, D.C.'s world of public policy that a lot of the big environmental NGOs spend your donation dollars on lobbyists. Paso Pacífico, on the other hand, puts my donation dollars directly to work in the field, protecting critically endangered wildlife habitat and empowering local communities.

At other organizations, I have been disappointed by financial impropriety, philosophical inconsistencies, incompetent leadership, arrogance, or a lack of dedication. This is NOT at all the case at Paso Pacifico, where people are honest, dedicated, passionate, humble, and responsible stewards of their resources.

Everyone at Paso Pacifico listens to the children and other community members in the areas where they work. Paso Pacifico researchers stay on top of cutting-edge research in conservation science, bringing technology to bear in remote parts of Central America, and using insights from the social sciences to build successful programs that respect people and protect endangered species and wildlife habitat.

I could not be prouder to be a longtime Paso Pacifico collaborator and contributor.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Conozco la labor de Paso Pacífico desde hace algunosa años, entre otras tareas deseo destacar la preocupación por la capacitación de las personas vinculadas al Proyecto. Particularmente los Guardaparques, que han sido enviados hasta... Argentina! Y la formación ambiental de los niños para lograr adultos ambientalmente comprometidos. Felicitaciones


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a spatial ecologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, with many years of experience working in Central and South America. Having had the opportunity to work with Paso Pacifico staff and student researchers, I highly support its mission and focus on fundamental conservation issues in a key portion of the Central American isthmus. Paso Pacifico's reforestation efforts and initiatives to protect endangered wildlife species and habitat with strong cooperation of Nicaraguan citizens is a testament to their successful approach for conserving areas of high biodiversity. I look forward to future collaborations with them.

Review from Guidestar

Ophelia W.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I admire Paso Pacifico's effort to engage community members, Nicaraguan staff, students and biologists, as well as international collaborators to conduct local-regional level biodiversity conservation work very much. After doing ecological research in Latin America for years, I have come to the realization that action-oriented conservation that involves participatory mapping/research is badly needed. Paso Pacifico is an excellent example of how citizen science in conservation is applied in the real-world problem-solving contexts.