Although Costa Rica is well known among the conservation community for its exemplary system of national parks (>1/3 of the country is under some level of protection), the country’s Pacific slope has been severely deforested and altered, leaving some of the region’s most diverse habitats and vulnerable organisms seriously threatened.
This project will reforest an area on the Monteverde region’s Pacific slope. This region has a high level of biodiversity, with over 500 species of orchids, 3000 species of vascular plants, 126 species of mammals, 26 species of amphibians, 96 species of reptiles, 426 species of birds, and thousands of insect species. Monteverde is also the reproductive area of many threatened bird species.
Thus far, this reforestation project has provided enough trees (>63,000) to restore more than 300 hectares of pasture to native species forest. It has enhanced over 300 hectares of habitat with plantings, including habitat in some of the existing protected areas. The restored areas are forming a biological corridor to connect the famous Monteverde Reserve complex (1450 m on Pacific slope to 1850m and down to 400 m on the Atlantic slope) to another protected area called Cuenca de Abangares that extends to 400 m in elevation on the Pacific slope.
In 2008, the Minnesota Zoo provided funds to cover one year of bags, shovels, fertilizer and equipment for this reforestation project. Melanie Sorensen, Public Programs Interpretive Naturalist, is the staff champion for this project.
In 2008, Melanie also led a group of eight teenagers on an educational field study to Costa Rica to learn more about cloud forest conservation and the reforestation project. The youth practiced conservation first-hand, spending an entire day filling bags of soil and planting trees to help the reforestation project near Monteverde. This activity accomplished the mission of the Zoo by connecting people, animals and the natural world. As summed up by trip participant Andrew Haertzen, “I believe that wildlife conservation is more than just educating others, but requires action by those who have been educated.”