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Monteverde’s Double-Edged Chain Saw: A Tale of Environmental Preservation

Bridge in Rainforest - Costa Rica - MonteverdeMonteverde’s “cloud forest” is one of the world’s finest examples of that unique ecosystem, and one where decades of focused environmental preservation have paid off.  

The Monteverde Cloud Forest is situated on the Continental Divide, 4,662 feet above sea level.  Dense cloud cluster often engulfs the tops of the trees, creating an intense moisture system; and this in turn has engendered endemic species of plants and lichen.  The Cloud Forest is home to over 2,500 unique species of plants, and an astonishing 420 of these are the exquisite orchids, for which the region is justly famous.

The history of Monteverde’s settlement is colorful.  Farming, and with it deforestation, began in the 1930s when Costa Ricans began to clear land for cultivation and grazing.  Two decades later they were joined by a group of pacifist Quakers from Alabama who were fleeing the return of mandatory military draft in the United States.  Experienced farmers, the Quakers recognized immediately the suitability of the cool climate and lush vegetation for dairy farming.

Today, local opinion is very much divided on the legacy of the Quakers.  On the one hand, they recognized the importance of maintaining the region’s delicate eco system and set aside 810 acres as a preserve, but, as the natives argue, they also brought the chain saw with them, which greatly accelerated the pace of deforestation.  But the Quakers have made good.  Still very much a part of the community, not only have they established viable businesses in the area, schools and social infrastructure, they also spearheaded an aggressive expansion of the area of the Monteverde which today measures 35,089 acres encompassing eight life zones. 

Today, the Monteverde Cloud Forest is a poster child for Costa Rican environmental responsibility.  The forest is home to 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, 1,200 amphibians and one of the few wildlife habitats left, which can support all five of the “cat family:” jaguars, ocelots, pumas, oncillas, margays, and jaguarundis. 

Alexander+Roberts is committed to supporting our local partners in their conservation efforts throughout the world.  On South American itineraries such as Treasures of Nature in Costa Rica, guests enjoy an unforgettable tour of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Posted: 8/10/2015 4:05:32 PM by Alexander + Roberts