- Explores and develops market-based solutions.
Costa Rica has a payment for ecosystem services program that helps support The Children’s Eternal Rainforest. This 22,600-hectare reserve plays a critical role in conserving Costa Rica’s biodiversity. It provides water for communities and hydroelectricity and is the center of a block of protected areas that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the region annually. Other important income for protecting the CER comes from visitation by ecotourists and students. A $51,500 grant from the Walker Foundation in 1993 helped fund the construction of the San Gerardo Field Station with the goal of generating ecotourism revenue. However, the economic crisis caused by the COVID19 pandemic has triggered a sudden, complete lack of tourist-derived income, putting the very existence of the CER at risk. We request $50,000 in emergency funding to ensure the survival of the CER until our market-based revenue sources stabilize and new sources of income can be developed.
The Peñas Blancas River runs through the heart of the Children's Eternal Rainforest. Water resource protection is one of the key ecosystem services provided by the CER.
Grant Progress Report
Alex C. Walker Foundation
Emergency Funds to Conserve the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, Costa Rica
Prepared by Monteverde Conservation League
, Office of the Executive Director
The Children’s Eternal Rainforest is a 22,600-hectare reserve that plays a critical role in conserving Costa Rica’s biodiversity. It provides water for communities and hydroelectric projects and is the cornerstone of a block of protected areas that is the main attraction for hundreds of thousands of ecotourists each year. Unfortunately, the economic crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic put the very existence of the CER at risk. Due to the sudden and complete lack of tourist-derived income, we had insufficient funding to pay for the park guards and community outreach activities needed to protect the forest from poaching and encroachment. This proposal requested emergency bridging funding to ensure the protection of the CER until our market-based revenue sources stabilize and new additional sources of revenue can be developed. Funds will be used to cover the costs of forest patrols, environmental education, and community outreach from July 2020 to December 2021.
Project Budget: $25,000.00
This grant from the Alex C. Walker Foundation provided significant support to operations from November 2020 through January 2021. The $25,000 provided by this project allowed the Monteverde Conservation League to continue basic operations, including forest patrols, critical maintenance, and administration of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.
As of December 31, 2020, $20,345.19 (81%) of project funds had been spent, and the remaining $4,654.81 was spent in January 2021. Funds were allocated to salaries of 13 staff members, all of whom were at 40-50% time in November and December. In January most staff remained at 50% time, though a few increased to 70%. Once we have our final January results, I will include the financial report of all funds spent.
As of February 1, 2021, all of our staff have returned to 100% hours and wages. We have been busy with the basic operations and administration of a 22,600-hectare rainforest reserve, and have also reopened all of our visitation centers. Bajo del Tigre (in Monteverde) has been open since August and visitation has grown little by little each month. Pocosol Station opened as of December 11, and San Gerardo Station and Finca Steller (trails) are open on a reservations-only basis. Last weekend we received our first group at San Gerardo in nearly 11 months, a group of 15 Costa Rican nationals from San-Jose who spent 2 nights at the station. We will receive a US-based student group later this week via the Monteverde Institute.
We are extremely grateful to the Alex C. Walker Foundation for this grant, which allowed us to continue operating and provided financial security during a very uncertain time. We are including several photographs of patrols, maintenance work, and natural resources protected thanks in part to these funds.
San Gerardo field station photographed during Walker Foundation site visits in 1996 and 2021. For 25 years the station generated income supporting forest protection until the COVID Pandemic forced its closing. Emergency funding paid to fund salaries for forest guards until the station could reopen.
The Children's Eternal Rainforest is an essential component of what creates a market-based economy centered on ecotourism and academic groups. Reciprocally, part of that economic activity helps to make the CER sustainable (in normal, non-pandemic times), and in turn, as a direct result, protect one the world's biodiversity hotspots, provide water for hundreds of communities and farms downstream, as well as for about a half dozen hydroelectricity projects that produce roughly a third to half Costa Rica's electricity, depending on the season. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted local, national, and international economies, significant reducing income from ecotourism in Costa Rica, while also reducing government support for conservation activities.
We seek to secure partial funding ($50,000 of an estimated $638,666) to maintain essential operations of the Monteverde Conservation League, the organization that owns and protects the Children's Eternal Rainforest, from July 2020 to December 2021. This will help to compensate for economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. MCL has already reduced operations to a minimum, cutting 20% of staff positions and reducing working hours of remaining staff by 50%. These cutbacks come at a time when we can least afford them, since increased unemployment in the communities that border the CER has caused an increase in illegal activities within the reserve. Essential operations (described in greater detail below in Purpose of Grant) include guard patrols; maintenance of property boundaries; trails and infrastructure; environmental education and community outreach; basic administrative positions; and equipment associated with essential tasks.
(Check sent: 10/29/2020)