An Introduction to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest: Where is it, and how can you visit?

Dear Rainforest Friends,

For those of you who have had the opportunity to visit the Children’s Eternal Rainforest (CER), you may already be familiar with everything I have written in this entry, but for those readers who have not had the chance to visit I would like to introduce them to one of the best hidden secrets of Costa Rica.

History of the CER

The CER has a special name that goes hand in hand with a very special history, but in order to understand the story of the CER, you must first get to know the Monteverde Conservation League (MCL). The MCL is the non-profit NGO that created and currently manages the CER, and was founded in 1986 by a group of volunteer community members from Monteverde, Costa Rica. These founders were mainly preoccupied with the sustainability of Monteverde’s and Costa Rica’s natural resources, and with a grant from the World Wildlife Fund-US (WWF-US) and a debt for nature swap organized by the National Park Foundation, they were able to purchase some of the first properties that would comprise the reserve.

Of course, if the MCL wanted the CER to continue growing, it’s members would have to find funds from additional sources. As a result, one of the founders, Sharon Kinsman, took it upon herself to share the story of the CER with others. While on a trip to Europe, Sharon met a Swedish elementary school teacher, Eha Kern. Eha was fascinated with the MCL’s story and invited Sharon to her classroom in the rural Swedish countryside to inspire her students as well. Needless to say, the students were inspired, and they decided they would help raise money through small projects such as bake sales and skits in order to help purchase more land for the reserve.

After raising $18,092.11 (enough to purchase about 7 acres of rainforest at present…just imagine the amount the MCL could purchase in 1980s!) the story of the school children from Sweden saving the rainforest made the local newspaper and then went global. Children from over 44 countries all throughout the world started to raise money to donate to the MCL’s cause, and many donations also came from sister organizations established to support the CER. Millions of dollars flooded in over the next few years, and the CER grew with outstanding speed. MCL members and staff wanted to honor those young people who had worked so hard to create what is now the largest private reserve in Costa Rica, ence the name, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.

Where is the CER?

The Monteverde Protected Zone: The CER and surrounding reserves

This map was created by the MCL and depicts the Monteverde Protected Zone (Zona Protectora de Monteverde) and the close proximity of all of the reserves in the area. The large pink reserve is the Arenal Volcano National Park, the light green reserve is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the purple area is the Alberto Manuel Brenes Reserve, the tiny peach colored area is the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, and the green monster in the middle is our one and only Children's Eternal Rainforest.

The CER now measures over 54,000 acres and is located in the northwestern region of Costa Rica, just east of the Gulf of Nicoya. The reserve is located on the Tilarán Mountain Range, and is just one of the 5 reserves (1 public and 4 private) that create the Monteverde Protected Zone, or Zona Protectora de Monteverde. These five reserves, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve managed by the Tropical Science Center (TSC), the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve managed by the Santa Elena Professional Technical High School, the Alberto Manuel Brenes Biological Reserve managed by the University of Costa Rica, the Arenal Volcano National Park managed by the Costa Rican government entity MINAET, and our very own CER represent some of the highest levels of bidiversity in the entire world (see map).

Where can you visit the CER?

There are various areas you can visit the CER, some more accessible than others. The great thing is that you have a very high chance of spotting wildlife like the White-faced Capuchin (Cebus capucinus), the Resplendant Quetzal (Pharomacrus mocinno costaricensis), the rare Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculata) and a myriad of other amazing fauna and flora at every location. The best known access point is in Monteverde, the home of the MCL’s main office and information center, the Bajo del Tigre Trails and the San Gerardo Field Station. The other access point open to the public is in La Tigra de San Carlos, a small town about 30 minutes oustide of La Fortuna. La Tigra hosts the MCL’s office branch where the majority of its park guards are based. There you can visit the Pocosol Field Station as well as the Finca Steller Educational Center and Trails.

Map: How to Get to the CER

As you can see, the Children's Eternal Rainforest lies nestled between Monteverde, La Tigra, and La Fortuna.

These two access points are on opposite ends of the reserve, both located in distinctive tropical forest habitats. Visiting both areas of the reserve will give you an idea of its almost unimaginable biodiversity and habitat variation.  Not only are the plants and animals different, but the temperature and precipitation levels at each location are noticeably different, mainly affected by their altitudes. If you are traveling by car, 4 wheel drive is definitely recommended. Traveling by bus is also possible and cheaper, but will add more legs to your trip.

The CER welcomes visits from all over the world, from children to adults, from scientists to travelers. If you would like more information as to how to visit the CER at its different locations, you can visit the MCL website at www.acmcr.org or write to info@acmcr.org. I will also be writing more about the different places you can visit the CER, so make sure to come back!

The CER awaits you!

For the Forest,
Mia Roberts

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