Saturday, May 26, 2007

2a. Monteverde FYI

Monteverde was first settled in the 1930’s when Ticos (Costa Rican natives) left the gold mining juntas to head up into the mountains to make a living in logging and farming.
In 1949, three Quakers in Alabama were jailed for refusing to be drafted into the Korean War based on their pacifist beliefs. After their release in 1951, they moved with a total of 44 people from 11 families to settle in Costa Rica, because the country had abolished its military in 1948. They chose Monteverde because the cool mountain climate was ideal for grazing cattle and thus for dairy farming and cheese production.
Early on, the Quakers (correctly called the Society of Friends) decided to preserve one third of their land on the mountaintop to protect their watershed, and in so doing they protected the cloud forest. Because of problems with squatters in the reserve, Monteverde joined with the Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Federation in 1972 to purchase the adjacent 810 acres and formalize the reserve. As of 1975, the Reserva Biologico Bosque Nuboso Monteverde (Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve) has been administered by the Centro Cientifico Tropical. It is NOT one of Costa Rica’s many national parks.
In 1986, the Monteverde Conservation League bought more land to expand the reserve, which now has a total of 25,945 acres. It relies on private donations and entry fees. 
Two years later the Children’s Rainforest Project was launched. The Bosque Eterno de los Ninos (Children’s Eternal Rain Forest) exists because of the money collected by children around the world, who were inspired by a group of 4th graders in Sweden in 1987. The reserve consists of 54,360 acres which is largely inaccessible and meant to provide a home for wildlife and allow former agricultural land to be reclaimed by the jungle. It is Costa Rica’s largest reserve.
The Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes) is feared to be extinct as it has not been sighted since 1989. One of the reasons for establishing the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was to preserve the golden toad population which can only be found here. However, amphibians are very sensitive to environmental changes and are the "canaries in the mine." Are the golden toads disappearing because of decreasing air quality with airborne toxins and unfiltered ultraviolet rays? Or is their food source effected and lost due to environmental changes? Or do fungus and parasites that endanger the toads thrive in the changed environment?
Golden Toad
Next: 3. Up with the Birds.

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