Monteverde, April 2011
Dear friends of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest,
A few weeks ago (on the night of the March 30th), during an MCL-sponsored field trip to monitor amphibian populations, we were able to confirm the presence of the Lichen Stream Frog (Isthmohyla tica) on a remote ridge in the heart of the CER. The Lichen Stream Frog was thought to have vanished from the Monteverde area in the late 1980’s along with the Golden Toad and many other amphibians. Subsequently it disappeared from other parts of its tiny geographic range (a roughly 1500 ft elevational sliver extending from northwestern Costa Rica to western Panama), and many feared it might be extinct. This is the third time we have encountered the species on this one stream, but to my knowledge it is not known to occur today anywhere else in the world.
The Lichen Stream Frog is but one among tens of thousands of species of plants and animals protected within the CER. Yes – tens of thousands. The CER is home to about 3,000 species of vascular plants, including more than 500 orchid species; several hundred non-vascular plant species like mosses and liverworts; about 450 species of birds; we can only guess at the numbers for most insect groups but it seems reasonable to speculate that the CER harbors some 900 species of butterflies, perhaps 9,000 moth species, and perhaps 18,000 beetle species, just to mention a few. Undoubtedly, many of these organisms are as yet unknown to science.
The CER doesn’t only protect one of the most biologically rich ecosystems in the world. It is also the backbone of the protected area that is the primary attraction for ecotourism, the cornerstone of the local economy. And just as importantly, the CER protects an enormous watershed that provides clean and constant water for communities, agriculture, and hydroelectric projects – at present, the CER is fundamental to the production of about a third of Costa Rica’s electricity.
I throw these numbers at you because I want to drive home how immeasurably important it has been to protect these forests. All of these things would have been lost if it wasn’t for the help of caring people like you. Today we can continue our dream of safeguarding the existing CER and expanding it into critical areas thanks to the ongoing support of people like Tom Newmark, whose unwavering help has held fast despite the global economic crisis and extensive changes both at MCL and at MCLUS, or Jorie Howe, who requested that her friends and family celebrate her seventh birthday party with gifts to the CER. For example, a few months ago we finalized the purchase of a 250 acre piece of land of enormous importance. By protecting this piece of land, we simultaneously connected a previously disjunct piece of the CER to the rest of the protected area, closed an entry point for trespassing poachers and livestock, and protected a swath of what is arguably the most endangered type of forest in the region – the Premontane Wet Forest.
So on behalf of the beautiful Lichen Stream Frog, and all that it represents, I would like to express a heartfelt THANK YOU! for your essential help. Please take pride in the fact that your support makes all the difference, and know that it serves as further motivation for all of us here at MCL in Costa Rica to do everything in our power to make this magical achievement truly eternal.
President of the MCL Board of Directors