In the beginning, and for about twenty years, the shareholders of Bosqueterno S.A. had only one meeting per year, with no elections as board positions were filled “to serve continually.” At these meetings, the Tropical Science Center would report on the use and state of trails on the property. As the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, and thus Bosqueterno, became more heavily visited by tourists, school groups and researchers, this simple arrangement changed and, as in everything, life became more complicated.

Monteverde was one of the original “eco-tourism” destinations in the world. When an industry grew up around the desire of people to connect with nature as part of their vacation plans, the lure of the golden toad and the quetzal along with the rest of the beautiful bio-diverse treasure trove of the Monteverde forest caused visitation numbers to go from hundreds to thousands per year. There were 471 registered visitors, mostly scientists and birdwatchers in 1974. By 1980, 2700 people came annually to the Monteverde Reserve. By 1989, this number had grown to 17,574 and just two years later, in 1991, the Reserve registered 40,000 visitors. Up until 1986, the TSC operated the Reserve at a financial loss. However, as tourism boomed, the Monteverde Reserve’s income eventually equaled expenses and after 1986, the Reserve was managed at a profit. The majority of these visitors would have been walking on the trails that run through Bosqueterno.

During the 80s and 90s, there were nine leases held between individuals and organizations that had repeater towers on Cerro Amigos. The TSC collected the money for these leases (in all cases except two which were towers owned by public service organizations with leases granted at no charge to the leaseholders.) In 1992, TSC began sharing the income from the tower site leases with Bosqueterno S.A.

 In the General Assembly of 1994, following a period during which the membership was questioning the management of Bosqueterno lands by the TSC, shareholders appointed a commission to analyze the relationship between the Bosqueterno S.A. and the TSC. Its mandate included making recommendations on whether to renew the lease with the TSC, and if so, under what terms. The commission was composed of shareholders Wolf Guindon, Julia Lowther, Jim Standley and John Trostle. The authors of what is now known as the “Report of the 1995 Commission” conducted extensive interviews and investigations as part of their task. In their report, they issued the recommendation “that Bosqueterno land continue to be managed as an integral part of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and that Bosqueterno S.A. strengthen its partnership with the TSC.” This laid the groundwork for a renegotiation of the lease, which concluded with an new contract in late 1995.

 

The 1995 Commission observed that “…two actions are essential to the long-term protection of Bosqueterno and a stronger partnership with the TSC.” These were (1) to place a conservation easement (servidumbre ecológica) on the property so that the land could never be subdivided or used in ways incompatible with long-term protection; and (2) to establish an agreement with the TSC that includes the terms for trail maintenance, entrance fee collection, maintenance and sub-leasing of the TV tower area, and the rights of locals to enter the land for educational purposes. The Report included a suggested management plan as well.

Visitation to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve continued to rise following 1995 and the membership of Bosqueterno S.A. and the Board of Directors felt that the Reserve’s revenues directly benefited from the use of trails on Bosqueterno land. While it is true that the TSC had protected Bosqueterno lands against invasions and hunters and maintained the trail system at a financial loss for many years, the eco-tourism boom in Monteverde meant that the Reserve was generating an increasing profit. Bosqueterno S.A. members felt that a more equitable arrangement would include monthly payments that could be then invested in community projects of conservation value. The Board of Directors, lead by Bruce Young (President of Bosqueterno S.A., 2003-2007) undertook negotiations with the TSC to change what was considered a monthly “donation” to being a payment for rental of Bosqueterno lands, to an amount that would increase every year if visitation rates increased. Eventually, these discussions resulted in a five-year rental agreement that took effect in 2006. .

Currently, Bosqueterno S.A. has two sources of revenues: monthly rental income from the TSC and payments for environmental services. The “Programa de Pagos de Servicios Ambientales” are administered in Costa Rica by the government-run forestry department known as FONAFIFO. In this program, landowners of regenerating or older forest, or of forestry plantations, can apply for payments that compensate them for protecting, rather than using, their land. This involves a land management plan and placing an easement on the land title that prohibits land-use changes for the duration of the contract (five years). During the contract period, the landowner receives a fixed, per-hectare payment for up to 300 hectares per contract. For landowners with more than 300 hectares, it is possible to apply for additional contracts, so long as they are staggered by at least one year. In the case of Bosqueterno S.A., there are two contracts, one for 300 hectares, which started in 2008 and a second contract for the remaining 254 hectares, which started in 2009.