Every day we spend here I am in awe of the mystical nature that is all throughout Costa Rica. Today we took a hike with tour guide Sergio in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve where we saw millipedes, the famous bird species, the resplendent Quetzal, and the magical surrounding trees. The preservation of this forest relies heavily on its caretakers: the local Ticos and the Quaker group who came to Monteverde from the United States back in the early 1950s. Both groups must work together to protect the forest while also factoring in the impact of ecotourism and foreigners who come to live on this beautiful green mountain.
The Quakers first came to Monteverde from Alabama in 1951 to find peace and become one with nature. When they first arrived to the mountain, they cut down many trees to create space for farmland and homes for all of the Quakers. However, they quickly realized that many species called Monteverde their home and it was not right to cut down so much of the natural forest, so they decided to move their efforts toward nature conservation. Although the Quakers originally contributed to deforestation when they were building communities, they then established the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve which has allowed the biodiversity of the forest to thrive and it serves as an excellent place for forestry research. Similar to the Quakers, the local Ticos work hard to preserve the beauty and wildlife of Monteverde. Many local Ticos including Don Guillermo and our tour guide Sergio have great educational backgrounds of the different species and forestry of the cloud forest that really contribute to their efforts of preserving the nature. Over the past couple of days, I have enjoyed them sharing their research with us and teaching tourists how they are able to conserve the forest and the wildlife species. Due to the Quakers initial trip to Monteverde and the local Ticos’ knowledge and research, both groups have positively impacted the mountain and have done a great job to protect it.
Despite the efforts of Monteverde’s founders and protectors, their growth in ecotourism and attraction of foreigners has added both new challenges and opportunities for the mountain and its earliest people. Regarding ecotourism, there has been a great deal of foreign investment from a Mexican company that has taken over a cheese factory, as well as a Chinese company that is entering the hotel industry. Because of these foreign companies recently becoming a part of Monteverde, the future is uncertain as to whether or not the Quakers and Ticos will be able to sustain the cloud forest. However, the captivation of Monteverde to tourists is due largely to its preservation, so other countries who are starting to do business there are aware of the preservation and likely have no intention of taking away the forest’s beauty. Aside from possible risks in the expansion of Monte Verde, this could also attract more and more tourists. This is great because we had such an amazing experience there and I would want more people to see it as well. Overall, as long as tourists and new companies are respectful to the nature and to the local people who protect the forest, the growth of Monteverde could lead to an amazing future!