History: How to Save a Rainforest
The creation of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest or El Bosque Eterno de los Niños is a tale that spans half a century and a story that bears testament to how individuals from different parts of the world can come together to create positive change.
In 1951, a group of American Quakers immigrated to Costa Rica in search of a peace-loving country in which they could settle. They established a community in the central, mountainous region and set aside 1,345 acres of montane forest that would never be cut, providing protection for the watershed that supported their farms. They named this forest El Bosque Eterno (the Eternal Forest) and called their community Monteverde or Green Mountain.
In the 1970s, the biologist George Powell came to Monteverde to study the Resplendent Quetzal‒regarded as the world’s most beautiful bird.
Taken with the stunning beauty of the cloud forest and its remarkable array of organisms, he encouraged conservation organizations to protect more land in the area. With the help of one of the Quakers, Wolf Guindon, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve was created.
In 1987, Swedish teacher Eha Kern and her young students in Fagervik, Sweden studied tropical rainforests. While enchanted by the amazing array of wildlife that these forests supported, the students became concerned after viewing a documentary that ended with disturbing images of forests being burned and cleared.
Determined to help, they united with an American botanist and professor at Bates College of Lewiston, Maine, Dr. Sharon Kinsman, who was studying cloud forest ecology in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Setting a goal of saving 25 acres, the students began fundraising by putting on plays, having bunny-hopping contests, giving pony rides and selling home-baked goodies. They made more money than they expected!
After a newspaper article was published about their efforts and a television report aired, children around the world began to participate in the creation of the Barnens Regnskog (Swedish for the Children’s Rainforest). The Swedish government matched funds raised by the children and soon more than $100,000 had been raised.
Partnering with the Monteverde Conservation League, Dr. Kinsman helped spearhead the purchase of land in Costa Rica and founded a local chapter of the organization in the United States to engage American children in the process. The idea swept the world. Students in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Spain and Japan also created organizations to help. Eventually, children in 44 countries contributed.
Today, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest protects 55,000 acres of critical rainforest habitat and provides safe haven to a rich diversity of animals and plants that depend on the forest. This area is now the largest private reserve in Central America. Friends of the Rainforest continues to support the work begun by these visionary founders.
The Children’s Eternal Rainforest lies adjacent to other protected areas: Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, Alberto Manuel Brenes Reserve, Arenal Volcano National Park and the Santa Elena Reserve. It is the conservation of these large tracts that form the Monteverde-Arenal Bioregion that Friends of the Rainforest (formerly Friends of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest) now works to protect, expand and support.
Help us protect the Monteverde-Arenal Bioregion. Donate today.