The community of Monteverde is located in the wet and windy Tilarán Mountains of Costa Rica in Central America. It was founded in 1951 by a group of the Religious Society of Friends (also known as Quakers) who came from Fairhope, Alabama to Costa Rica in search of land that could support farming. They had left the United States largely because they were not happy with their taxes supporting the growing military complex in the United States nor did they want to live in a society that profited from war. In 1949, four of the young men from the Fairhope Friends Meeting went to prison as conscientious objectors after refusing to register for the peacetime draft. (For more about Quakers: http://www.quaker.org)   

Campbell family looking toward Nicoya

The group chose Costa Rica over other countries largely because this little nation had abolished its own army in the aftermath of a revolution in 1948. Also, the government was inviting foreigners to come and help develop its farmland, being blessed with rich volcanic soil. After six months of living in the Central Valley and searching for the ideal location, the Quakers were introduced to a large section of partially-cleared land on a mountainside with a stunning view westward towards the Gulf of Nicoya and the Pacific Ocean. They immediately decided that this is where they would build their community, raise their children and continue to live their lives in a peaceful way. (For more about Costa Rica: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa_Rica)

The group of forty-four people arrived on this lush green mountain in May of 1951 when there was barely an oxcart trail heading up from the Pan American Highway in the lowlands. There were Costa Rican homesteaders living throughout the region who had already made clearings particularly in areas where it was level. The Friends bought roughly 1400 hectares (about 3450 acres) at an elevation of 1400 meters (roughly 4600 ft). They subdivided the parcel of land up into lots depending on the amount of land that each family wanted and could afford. They worked together to build the infrastructure of their community – the school, the roads, and the meeting house. Together they cut trees to furnish lumber for their homes and to make pastures for their cows and they started a dairy and cheese plant. (For more about the Monteverde Cheese Factory: http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/monteverde-cheese-factory/

Original cheese factory and future site of MV Institute

At the time that they divided the land, the group made the decision to set aside a large, forested mountaintop that they deemed would never be cleared or developed. This steep-sloped peak harbored the springs and headwaters of streams that furnished them with water for their farms, a saw mill and trapiche (sugar mill.) Originally known as the Watershed Property, this forest has remained protected since the early visionaries first set it aside, and from 1975 onward it has been leased to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve (locally known as the Reserve.) (For more about the Monteverde Reserve: http://www.cct.or.cr/pdf/monteverde_info_eng.pdf)

 

Soon after biologists George and Harriett Powell arrived in Monteverde in 1970 to do research, they became alarmed at the rate of deforestation they witnessed. They decided to raise funds to buy land, relatively inexpensive in those days, where the forest would be protected from hunting and other threats. They hired Wolf Guindon, a farmer and one of the original Quakers, to make trails and mark boundaries around the newly created Reserve, as well as to encourage homesteaders in the forest to sell their land for conservation. (For more about Wolf Guindon: http://walkingwithwolf.wordpress.com) In 1973, the Tropical Science Center (TSC) took over the administration of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, with 328 hectares (approximately 810 acres) under protection. The World Wildlife Fund-US donated money for administrative and vigilance costs over the next three years and other properties were bought with funds that came from all over the world.

Meanwhile, in August 1974, the community members incorporated the original Watershed Property into a sociedad anónima, (corporation), which became known as Bosqueterno S.A. The community agreed to lease the Bosqueterno land to the Tropical Science Center, who would take over protection and administrative duties. Once done, this agreement brought the total amount of land under protection in the Monteverde area to about 2000 hectares (some 4940 acres).

Headwaters of Rio Guacimal

 

The Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, founded in 1963 on the southern most tip of the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific coast, is generally recognized as the first protected area in Costa Rica. However, the Quakers of Monteverde had actually established their own preserve in 1951 when they decided to protect this land of primary forest that was home to the headwaters of the Guacimal River. When the property was leased to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in 1975, its story was absorbed into that of the larger, more famous Monteverde Reserve.

The community of Monteverde – from the original pioneers to the present-day mix of Quakers, biologists, educators and landowners – has shown a great deal of commitment to maintaining the integrity of this forest. Over the years, scientists have gone there for research purposes, birdwatchers and photographers have delighted in seeing such inhabitants as the Resplendent Quetzal, and hikers have wandered on trails through its vast greenness. This website has been developed with the purpose of sharing with readers the unique history and physical beauty and biodiversity of Bosqueterno. We hope that you will wander through this website and enjoy reading about these beautiful woods known as the Eternal Forest.

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