Together, the protected natural areas of Monteverde constitute an area of over 28,000 hectares, or 69,000 acres, and make up one of largest networks of private preserves in Central America, protecting some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems. The following are some of the major ones.
In 1972, seeing the threat posed to the forests in Monteverde, the scientist George Powell and his wife joined resident Wilford Guidon to establish a natural preserve. The Tropical Science Center was receptive to these efforts and accepted institutional responsibility for the foundation, possession, and administration of the future reserve. When it was founded, the reserve had only 328 hectares (810 acres), but an administrative agreement in 1975 incorporated the hydrographic reserve Bosque Eterno S.A., which had 554 hectares (1,368 acres) and was founded in the mid 60s by members of the Quaker community.
After the creation of the reserve, the Tropical Science Center continued searching for the economic and human resources needed to protect, expand, and consolidate the reserve. Today it extends more than 10,500 hectares (25,946 acres).
The Monteverde Conservation League is a non–profit organization devoted to the conservation of tropical forests. Its mission is to preserve and rehabilitate tropical ecosystems and their biodiversity. Founded in Monteverde in 1986 to accomplish this mission, it immediately started a campaign of land purchase that would soon lead to the establishment of the largest private preserve in Central America: the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.
In 1987, a group of children in Sweden, concerned about the loss of tropical forest covers, asked themselves what could be done to save the forest. They developed activities, raised money, and sent funds to the Monteverde Conservation League to purchase and protect land near Monteverde. That land is now a part of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, whose name was inspired by this story.
Since its development, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest has caught the attention of people around the world, especially children and teachers, due to its very special founding story. It has since expanded with the generous donations of many people around the world.
The Santa Elena Reserve has a unique philosophy. Its goal is to protect the cloud forest AND to provide funds for the Santa Elena Public High School so that it can offer quality education with a strong environmental focus to local youth. Educating the residents of Monteverde, they believe, will ensure the well-being of the cloud forest in the long run.
The Santa Elena Preserve comprises an area of 310 hectares, or 765 acres, but plans are underway to raise funds to buy and restore adjacent farmlands for future inclusion into the Santa Elena Reserve.
Conservation efforts in the area are concentrating on establishing forest corridors radiating from the central conservation area down the lower altitudes as many of the forest fauna, such as the resplendent quetzal, American pumas, jaguars, ocelots, and red brocket deer require large territories in which to forage and breed.
Located in the heart of the Monteverde community, Curi-Cancha offers a system of all natural trails that go through Premontane and Lower Montane primary and secondary cloud forest, two of the most critical life zones for the reproduction and survival of emblematic and endangered species such as the resplendent quetzal and the three-wattled bellbird. It also provides the habitat for three species of monkeys and other mammals, including two-toed sloths, agoutis, coatis, and pumas, as well as 185 species of birds.
With a limited number of visitors per day for a more private and intimate approach to nature, Curi-Cancha offers a great opportunity to enjoy the essence of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.