In order for wildlife to survive, creatures big and small require necessary habitat in which to live, eat and reproduce. Just like us, most forest creatures do not stay in one place all year. They need to migrate in search of mates, food and shelter.
Buying Land, Saving Life
Hazards of Disjointed Habitat
Problems arise when these animals are confronted by interruptions to their natural migratory such as roads, developments, and other structures not found in their natural habitats. Creatures leaving the shelter of forested pathways may be hit by cars or hunted by poachers; they also may simply be unable to reach the places where they would ordinarily go to reproduce, drink or feed. Without reforestation, the Resplendent Quetzals, renowned as the most beautiful bird in the world, must fly from lush forest across barren cattle pastures—where they are vulnerable to hawks and other predators.
Continuous Forest Protects Watershed Necessary to Life
Clean water is also necessary to sustain any form of life. Rainforests are critical to the production and filtration of this resource. They produce and recycle water, and their intricate root systems prevent the erosion that can contaminate water supplies.
The Children’s Eternal Rainforest sits on the continental divide, which provides a massive watershed. Its key geographic location conserves the water resources that sustain both the forest’s inhabitants and the surrounding local communities.
Critical Watershed: The Children’s Eternal Rainforest protects watersheds that benefit animals, humans and the forest’s diversity of plant life.
Friends of the Rainforest works with our Costa Rican partners, to purchase tracts of land necessary to make continuous, uninterrupted migratory pathways and watersheds. Uniting the forest takes several patches of farms, forests and degraded pastures which must be purchased and/or protected through agreements in order that many plant and animal species can survive.
Some of the recent land purchase successes include:
In 2005, 250 acres of primary forest that were threatened by imminent development in the region were purchased. The area provides critical habitat for the endangered Baird’s Mountain Tapir, the largest mammal in the region.
In 2006, 188 acres, known as the Santamaria property, were purchased.
In 2008, 115 acres, known as the Badilla property, were purchased.
In 2009, 20 acres, known as the Picado property, were purchased.
In 2010-11 an additional 252 acres of primary forest was purchased, uniting two sections of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Creating this continuity of protected territory added essential forest land and restricted poachers’ access to the protected areas of the forest. Importantly, adding this contiguous piece of forest was an important step in creating and protecting the biological corridor necessary for migrating species whose Pacific slope habitat has been lost to vast stretches of rainforest being chopped down to create cattle pasture. This purchase was particularly critical because it provided the opportunity to begin reforesting pasture with seeds from an intact forest body, ensuring that native tree species from the same altitude will mature and provide food and habitat to migrating species.
Tapir. The land acquired in the 2005 land purchase provides needed habitat for the largest mammal in Central America.
We continue to look for land purchase possibilities with the long term hope of creating a corridor down the Pacific slope toward the Gulf of Nicoya. This will provide essential habitat to declining species currently stranded on the mountain top before they are lost forever. Watch the Stranded Video to learn more.
Land prices are rising in the increasingly desirable Monteverde region of Costa Rica. While some remote degraded pasture lands might be purchased for $400 or less an acre, land parcels near rapidly growing Santa Elena and vital to the bellbird population may cost over $15,000 an acre. The average cost, including legal and long-term protection, is likely to exceed $1,200 per acre.
We are not working alone to save and connect forest fragments. Friends of the Rainforest has coordinated its efforts with the Monteverde Conservation League, the Monteverde Institute, the Tropical Science Center (TSC), and Fundacion Conservacionista Costarricense (FCC) in recognizing the need to take action and to avoid competition in purchasing land and in raising funds. These are some of the most respected and capable conservation operatives in Costa Rica. We have mutual concerns about these vital protection activities. Dr. Carlos Guindon, Rafael Bolaños of TSC, Deb Hamilton of FCC collaborated on the creation of corridors for animal movement. University students from the University of California Tropical Ecology classes also have started their own effort to reconnect an isolated forest patch on the Pacific slope.