History: How to Save a Rainforest
The creation of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest (called El Bosque Eterno de los Niñosin Spanish—the language of Costa Rica) is a tale that spans half a century and story that bears testament to how individuals from different parts of the planet can come together to create the change we seek in the world.
In 1951, a group of American Quakers immigrated to Costa Rica in search of a peace-loving country in which their community could settle. They established themselves in a central, mountainous region and set aside 1,345 acres of forest at the top of the mountains 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 inhabitants, 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 eventually 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 the forest supported, the students became concerned after viewing a documentary that ended with disturbing images of the forest 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 efforts 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 Rain Forest). 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 the millions of species of animals and plants that are depended upon the forest for support. It is the largest private reserve in Central America.
Forest Guards have been hired to defend the forest from poachers, hunters, traders of endangered animals and plants and nature centers have been built to educate travelers about the forest’s wonders.
The Friends of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest continues the work begun by these visionary founders. Edmund Burke once said, “Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little.” Great change often comes in small steps, taken by individual people who are determined to make a difference.
Help us keep the eternal in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Donate today.