COSTA RICA: RAINFORESTS

4Canopy of Atlantic Cloud Forest

Costa Rica is a  country of rainforests – tropical rainforest, cloud forest and tropical dry forest. These rainforests have a fundamental effect on Earth’s climate as they diminish the greenhouse effect and they also contain food crops and other important natural resources.  In addition they provide a thriving habitat for a myriad of vegetation and wildlife.

At one point in the middle of the 20th Century  rainforests covered almost 75% of Costa Rica.

Then the  loggers arrived.

After years  of unchecked logging two-thirds of Costa Rica’s tree canopy was destroyed.

Then there was a miracle.

Ticos began to realize that this invaluable ecosystem had unlimited potential and began policies to not only protect the rainforests, but to encourage growth.  Loggers were put on restrictions.  More importantly in 1996, a system of payments for environmental services was introduced not only to protect the rainforest but also help reduce poverty, especially in poor rural areas. The National Forestry Fund was established and it has encouraged locals to take responsibility  – giving them land ownership  in return for helping to grow  healthy rainforests.  The benefits of this are many fold:

  • Landowners receive per acre financial incentives for conservation and reforestation
  • The replenished rainforest removes CO2 from the atmosphere, and helps water filtration
  • Creates over 18,000 jobs and supports 30,000 additional jobs
  • Discovery and  promotion of  rainforest resources that can be used to develop pharmaceuticals and natural medicines

In just a few decades, Costa Rica’s  tropical rainforests have doubled which has supported the growth of tourism which is now linked to half of the nation’s GDP.  The continued  protection of these rainforests  will ensure the thriving ecotourism and adventure tourism industries.

I got to see first hand, up close and personal the wonders of the rainforest in an open tram that traversed above and below the canopy of the Atlantic Forest. Here is my view:

And some stills:

Here is a dead tree  that is nonetheless providing sustenance for a myriad of other plants, and fungi:

There are more shades of green than I never knew existed as well as more plants, trees and flowers than I could ever identify.  Here are some of my favorites:

The “Broccoli” tree  also known as Ceiba or Kapok:

.

Fern that has young red leaves that turn into mature green leaves:

Tree fern that looks like a star:

Alligator skin patterned leaf:

 

Heliconia rostrata – a favorite of hummingbirds:

Then there is the “Hot Lips” flower:

And finally two  of the 1300 species of Costa Rican orchids:

There is so much more…

#