Wednesday, May 1, 2013


In the mountains within tropical and subtropical latitudes, persistent clouds develop, creating what is called a cloud forest, or bosque nuboso in Spanish. Within Costa Rica lies the Monteverde Cloud Forest, where sunlight is often blocked from entering by thick cloud cover. As a result, very little evaporation occurs. The presence of this abundant water allows for an incredible amount of biodiversity. Approximately 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity is found in this location.

Within the Monteverde Cloud Forest is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which encompasses over 14,200 hectares of land. Within this preserve are over 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 1,200 reptile and amphibian species, and numerous insect species, including 500 types of butterflies. Many of these species are endangered and endemic, which means they can only be found in this area of the world. The Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve is also within the forest, and also has many diverse species represented, including spider monkeys.

Visiting this location also affords another unique opportunity besides the exploration of many plant and animal species. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is on both sides of the Continental Divide in Costa Rica, so you can stand on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides of the slope. A continental divide separates major streams that will not join each other before they enter another river or sea, and separates surface waters that will eventually flow into different oceans.

Despite its high biodiversity, this region is very vulnerable to change. The golden toad, endemic to Monteverde and last seen in 1989, is thought to have gone extinct due to El Niño or anthropogenic climate variations that led to a drying effect on the forest. The incredible and unique species in this area must be viewed with care, as they exist in a delicate balance.

Photo of a canopy walkway near Santa Elena, Costa Rica courtesy of Dirk van der Made via Wikimedia Commons.


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