Exploring the Cloud Forest: Saving an ecosystem through innovative education

Dear Rainforest Friends,

The cloud forest is one of the most uncommon ecosystems in the world, and also one of the most threatened due to global climate change. It is a complex environment, with an incredible amount of biodiversity found throughout its many misty layers. The cloud forest receives its nutrients not only from rainfall and the forest floor, but also from the ever-present and abundant clouds. As a result, the cloud forest is home to an incredible amount of epiphytes and other one-of-a-kind plant species, which create a unique home for numerous animal populations.

While hiking through the cloud forest, we observe our surroundings from the forest floor, and because of our many limitations we are unable to see the majority of what is going on around us (i.e. in the forest canopy). But these limitations apply less to Greg Goldsmith, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology with the University of California at Berkeley, and one of the creators of Canopy in the Clouds.

Greg and his associates visited the cloud forest in Monteverde, and after trekking through the thick foliage and climbing into and literally hanging in the forest canopy, published a product that they hope will help to prevent the delicate cloud forest ecosystem from disappearing forever- an interactive website that presents the Monteverde cloud forest from multiple perspectives.

Not only is the website chalk full of first hand information about the cloud forest, but provides 360 degree rotational images of various cloud forest ecosystems with embedded videos. The site also provides complete lesson plans for science classrooms, designed for the 6th-8th grade levels, and the best thing is, it’s free!

This is a great example of some of the video footage included throughout the site:

Resplendent Quetzal CanopyintheClouds from Colin Witherill on Vimeo.

So, if you are just curious about the cloud forest or a teacher trying to supplement your 7th grade science curriculum, this website is for you!

MCLUS invites you to visit the site, and keep in mind it’s a great way to visualize what you would see in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest if you ever decided to visit. If you have any questions about Canopy in the Clouds, please direct your inquiries to Drew Fulton at drew@canopyintheclouds.com.

For the Forest,

Mia Roberts

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