The original Bosqueterno S.A. document

By 1969, after dealing with these attempted invasions of the Watershed Property, the community realized that they should have better supervision of the land and discussions about how to better care for it began. They started to consider creating a “sociedad anonima” (corporation) to formalize the Watershed Property as a legal entity. Cecil Rockwell suggested the name ‘Bosqueterno’, the ‘eternal forest’, since their main purpose was to protect the forest in its natural state to perpetuity.

Early Monteverde Cheese Factory

In 1967, Hubert and Mildred Mendenhall decided to leave Monteverde and moved to the Meseta Central region of Costa Rica.  They wanted to sell their farm as well as the marginal lands still in Hubert’s name. A man from India by the name of Jay Teja arrived in Monteverde in September 1969. He showed great interest in buying the Mendenhall farm as well as the cheese factory. The community turned down his offer to purchase the dairy plant but talks continued between Teja and the Mendenhalls over the purchase of their property. Fortunately before they had finalized any sales agreement it was discovered that Teja was a very skillful con man with no money. He had deceived a major machinery company as well as others, so the Mendenhalls stopped negotiations. In August 1970, Teja was arrested in Britain and extradited to India where he was wanted for defrauding the Indian government of millions of dollars. In 1970, the Mendenhalls sold their farm to David and Jan Lowther-Green, and eventually moved to western Canada.

With the Mendenhalls leaving the area, it was more imperative that Bosqueterno S.A. land be transferred out of Hubert Mendenhall’s name and into the community’s ownership. George and Harriett Powell started buying tracts of land in the early 70s and began discussions with the Tropical Science Center over administering what was to become the new Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Recognizing the importance of the future of the community-owned forest, George became directly involved in the process of transferring its title.

One of the properties that George bought was in the northeastern part of the Chomogo area. George, along with his sidekick Wolf Guindon, decided to rename this area ‘El Valle’ as it was a different terrain that drained to the Atlantic instead of the Pacific. The now famous golden toads (Bufo periglenes) had been seen in this area and George wanted to stop the rapid clearing that was being done by a number of local men. It was at this time that the trail through the watershed land was being illegally widened and clearings made. 

The northern boundary of the Watershed Property had been cleared in 1952 following the first survey done at the time the Quakers were purchasing the Monteverde land. The southern and western boundaries were established in 1970/71 when the Mendenhall family had their property surveyed in preparation to sell. The eastern boundary, bordering Marcos Vargas’ and the Fonseca’s tracts, was established in 1972 when the first survey for the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve was done. The community organized a group to clear the boundary lines around the Bosqueterno property with the assistance of Luis Antonio Zamora. He was a local Costa Rican who had worked with the surveyors on the original Monteverde survey of 1951/52. When the land was being surveyed in 1971/72 for the creation of the Reserve, boundaries had become unrecognizable in places due to tree falls that obscured the line. Señor Zamora was called on to help find the original lines and in places the boundaries changed from the early survey.

George Powell and coati

Since George Powell was already involved in all these other efforts for conservation of this forest, he took on the responsibility of working to create an organization that could hold the title to the community’s Watershed Property once it was transferred from Hubert Mendenhall’s name as well as a mechanism for protecting it. George preferred a non-profit structure with one vote per person, whereas Hubert argued for a structure that allowed shares to be distributed in proportion to the number of hectares owned by each individual. Alvaro Pinto Lopez was the lawyer involved in the creation of the corporation that took shape as per Hubert’s wishes.

Signatures of founding board of Bosqueterno S.A.

A meeting on October 6, 1972 finalized the creation of Bosqueterno S.A. but it wasn’t until August 16, 1974 that the final papers were signed in San José by Cecil Rockwell and Elias Newswanger, on behalf of the community. There was to be a five-member Board of Directors consisting of a president, vice-president, secretary/treasurer and two vocales (voting members), which would serve indefinitely unless the general assembly made new appointments. This would be the case until 1993 when the statutes were changed to allow elections to the board. The statutes state, amongst other things, that “the object [of Bosqueterno S.A.] will be to invest in the property with the purpose of maintaining and protecting the natural state of its flora, fauna and spring water for the use of students and scientific purposes.”

Monteverde group 1957

There were 10,000 shares of stock distributed in proportion to the area of land owned by each family. Because of the amount of land owned, the Mendenhall and Rockwell families obtained majority control of the company (63%). It was a common understanding amongst the shareholders that their shares would transfer with their properties when and if they sold their farms to new owners residing in Monteverde. However, when the Mendenhalls sold their land in Monteverde, they retained ownership of their Bosqueterno S.A. shares as they wanted to continue to have a say in the protection of the forest. Hubert eventually did sell some of the shares to the Lowther-Greens, who had bought the Mendenhall farm.

Since there would be a significant cost to protect the forest as well as professional administration needs, Bosqueterno S.A. decided to lease the land to the Tropical Science Center to take advantage of the vigilance and administration already in place for the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. On September 25, 1975, a lease agreement was signed by Marvin Rockwell, then president of Bosqueterno S.A., and Luis Diego Gomez Pignario who was president of the TSC. The 90-year lease would be in effect for five years, beginning with the date it was signed, and would be automatically renewed each five years for up to 90 years. Each party could end the contract if they first communicated their intentions in writing to the other party at least three months ahead of the next expiration date. If Bosqueterno S.A. chose to end the contract, they would have to allow the TSC six months to vacate the property. The price of the lease was one colon per year.

The original 1975 agreement between Bosqueterno S.A. and the Tropical Science Center stated that the TSC would provide (within the boundaries of Bosqueterno):

  1. Complete protection of the water sources and watershed;
  2. Complete protection of the natural resources;
  3. Maintenance of an area to educate about the importance of forest protection and nature reserves;
  4. Maintenance of an area for scientific investigation.

 Within the boundaries of Bosqueterno, the TSC was totally prohibited to:

  1. Fell, chop or trim any trees or plants;
  2. Take out any kind of products of the natural forest;
  3. Practice any kind of hunting or remove any kind of living specimen of wild animal life;
  4. Introduce new species of flora or fauna without a former agreement between both parties;
  5. To build houses, buildings, or installations except those necessary for protection and administration;
  6. To build roads or introduce any kind of motorized vehicle within the property except what may be necessary for protection and administration.

The Tropical Science Center could construct paths for pedestrians following agreement of the Board of Directors of Bosqueterno S.A.