The year 2007 marked the sixth full year of activity of the Monteverde Conservation League U.S., Inc. (MCLUS) since its establishment in April 2002 with its mission “to support the conservation, preservation and rehabilitation of tropical ecosystems and their biodiversity.” MCLUS officers and board members have been carrying out its mission by volunteering time and effort to present informational programs and eco-tourism activities, to carry out fundraising efforts and to provide labor, advice, equipment and funds for activities in Costa Rica and Belize. MCLUS is closely allied with the Monteverde Conservation League (MCL) in Monteverde, Costa Rica. MCL owns and manages El Bosque Eterno de los Ninos (BEN), a 54,000+ acre nature preserve – the largest private reserve in Central America.
Land Purchase and Protection Campaign (LPPC).
In April 2004 MCLUS began, with the approval of MCL, a new fundraising effort – the Land Purchase and Protection 20th Anniversary Campaign – to raise $1.5 million dollars by December 31, 2007 in celebration of the beginning of the BEN in 1987. We did not reach this high goal, but we made a good beginning and are committed to reaching it and more. The money raised by LPPC will:
• help create wildlife migratory corridors from the BEN to existing patches of remaining forests down the mountain slopes,
• buy land along the BEN’s borders that will seal off the gateways used by poachers,
• buy “inholding lands” – properties which are surrounded by the BEN,
• support MCL’s annual expenses for BEN’s protection and reforestation activities and for environmental education for the BEN’s surrounding communities, and
• create a Board-directed quasi-endowment for future Protection and Operational expenses
This was the third and final year for the LPPC annual competition among schools to fundraise for the BEN and win the three free student ambassadorship trips. Parents and one grandmother of the three student ambassadors accompanied their children as part of the eco-tourism trips offered by MCLUS. The Student Ambassadors came free and promised to share their experiences with other schools
when they returned home.
The Student Ambassadors for 2007 were:
• Ben Swank, Principia Lower School, St. Louis, MO $2746
• Katherine Phillips, Walk w/Animals Homeschool, Scottsville NY $2000
• Elaine Gorom, Hinchcliffe Elementary, O’Fallon, IL $1575
In August MCLUS once again received a $20,000 gift establishing a $1 matching grant for every $2 received for all LPPC donations (up to $40,000) during 2007. We had 398 other donors who donated in excess of $152,500. This represents an increase of over 50% in donations for Land Purchase and Protection over last year! We were aiming for $100,000 and exceeded it.
Funds raised by the LPPC in 2007 will be spent on Pacific slope land currently being negotiated by the MCL. The priorities to be considered when selecting a piece of land to buy include how much biodiversity it has. Does the landowner have a clear title to the land? Is the price reasonable? Does the land lie within a reasonable area to be part of our cordillera to coast corridor goal?
The Dickey land given to us in 2005 on the Nicoya Peninsula is still owned by us. The two year waiting period for resale has past. We have given the MCL authority to pursue selling the land for us when they feel the time is right.
MCLUS Board approved a 50% for land, 40% for protection and 10% for endowment split for the monies that came in through the Land purchase and Protection Campaign. In 2007 the donation to MCL for operations for protection amounted to $61,000. $27,108 was added to the quasi-endowment retained here in the US. $137,756 was sent to MCL for land purchase and protection.
Other Donations and Assistances to MCL.
When a young man, Ignatius Piediliato, tragically passed away early in the year, his parents invited donations to MCLUS from their family and friends as a memorial for him. He must have been dearly loved because MCLUS received over $15,000 in honor of him.
The St. Louis Rainforest Advocates gave $900 to send to MCL to be spent in this way: $400 for land purchase, $400 for environmental education, and $100 for the Pro Nativa project at Bajo del Tigre trails in the BEN.
A Rotary Club in Ohio donated $9000 for the hydroelectric project at Poco Sol. They also sent a contingent of 9 people to Costa Rica to help lay the pipe, work on the new building and clear trails at Poco Sol. A big thank you to Chuck Stocking and Rotary for continuing their interest in our work.
Rachel Crandell donated $15,000 to pay the first year salary of an environmental educator hired by MCL. Sergio is a young man with education and experience. He has a very hands-on approach to working with young children and has begun the enormous task of taking the message of conservation to 40 villages on the eastern side of the BEN. MCL has been without an environmental education component for some years now. We welcome this wonderful advance.
MCLUS Eco-tourism trips to the BEN continue to be good fundraisers and educate people about the forest and create new donors. In 2007 three trips were offered in March, July and in October (Namibia) for two weeks each with profits of almost $15,000. These profits are in addition to $200 tax-deductible gift from each trip participant amounting to $9000 more in benefit to the BEN from the 45 participants. Three trips are planned for 2008 for students from Fox River Country Day School in May, for Discovery Bound in early July, followed immediately by an open registration trip the last two weeks in July.
Rachel’s children’s book Hands of the Maya had successful sales with many copies sold by MCLUS. The profits are directed to scholarships for Maya high school students in Belize. Rachel has contributed her royalties for that scholarship effort in order to help sustain the indigenous people’s efforts to conserve and preserve their local ecosystem and way of life. In 2007 these funds provided $3,500 in scholarships to students of Maya Centre Village in central Belize. MCLUS has also channeled funds for 3 scholarships to girls from the San Luis Valley to attend colegio (high school) in nearby Santa Elena in the Monteverde Zone in Costa Rica and one to attend baking school. An additional scholarship is sending a girl from Meno Village on the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea to high school in Ambunti.
Gabe and Kristin Serafini encouraged us in a Facebook Cause campaign that raised over $1200 through an online social networking site for the BEN and has identified over 200 new individuals who have an interest in our work. This will help us grow our donor list.
In 2007 we saw more individual donors who gave between $1000 and $10,000 than ever before. Large donations move us closer to our goals faster. We are especially grateful for the increased possibility of corporate donors spurred by the efforts of board member Tom Newmark.
Other projects and actions.
E-Newsletters are going out monthly to our supporters and interested persons via internet. The E-Newslettersare being archived on our website www.mclus.org for your updated information. Thanks go to Serafini Studios for guiding us through the computer technology maze to update our website and send out newsletters. They have billed us for only a fraction of the work they have done. Thank you, Gabe.
The Christian Science Monitor series on Global Warming started off with a front page article on Monteverde that ran for five pages on June 21, 2007. It was a wonderfully written explanation of how we know that rising temperatures on the planet are effecting wildlife. Though not specifically about the BEN, it brought attention to the Monteverde area, and our forest plays a critical role in the protection of that region. To prove that point we can look at the discovery of Mark Wainwright and Dr. Andrew Gray when they discovered the two populations of frogs that were thought to be lost, one inside the BEN and one in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve that the BEN surrounds.
UNESCO. The BEN is part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve called Agua y Paz. The signing of the designation was in Geneva during the visit of the MCL board members to Sweden to celebrate with Eha Kern the 20th anniversary of the BEN.
MCLUS Intern. We are especially grateful to MCLUS Board member Gay Townsend who has been volunteering for several months as an intern with MCLUS. Her environmental studies degree work allowed her this hands-on opportunity to learn how a nonprofit conservation organization works. Her help has been invaluable. We are thinking ahead as to what steps we need to take to make our organization sustainable. So far it has been largely dependent on the work of a couple of people. In order for us to have continuity into the future, to be able to sustain the BEN, we need to have a plan. Gay has guided us to several good books that are reshaping our approach to writing appeal letters and thank-yous.
Our Student Ambassadors this year have done more to spread the word than in past years. We are grateful for their enthusiasm, accuracy in telling the BEN story, and direct contact with other children who may become supporters as well.
The Uruta Draga Project in Panama has moved forward. We were able to facilitate receiving a free lab test of the oil by the Danforth Plant Center. It is an extraordinarily good oil, not only for cooking but also for lubrication. Rogelio Cansari has submitted a budget for the project and Karin Holser is finding donors and investors for the project that will benefit the Embera people of the Darien. Embera Stories in Spanish and English is ready to go to press. Joanna Crandell has done the layout work after many, many proof reading sessions by Spanish and English speaking friends. Rogelio has also completed the Embera transcriptions so we are getting ready to print the Embera-Spanish version. It is this version that will be placed in the village schools throughout the two comarcas in Panama.
Liability Insurance. We purchased liability insurance to protect MCLUS for our eco-tourism trips. It has been a good idea and we will continue this practice.
Monteverde Institute. We continue to facilitate transference of funds for the MVI as they do not have a nonprofit sister organization in the United States. MCLUS is happy to help support in this way the fine work this institution is doing in the Monteverde community.
2008 Fundraising Goal. In direct support of land purchase for the BEN we would like to raise $250,000 to enable the purchase and protection of corridor land on the Pacific slope of the Tilaran Mountains connecting the BEN with remaining patches of forest habitat.
Whole Foods Markets of Southern California Donation. On January 30 a 5% day at 37 WFMs raised $103,669.50. Part of the funds were to be allocated to Luna Nueva along with $17,500 raised by New Chapter to purchase land along the Chachagua River creating a corridor along the river between the BEN and Luna Nueva organic farm. Part of the funds raised were to reforest and protect the corridor. Then Luna Nueva will give the reforested land to MCL. The remaining monies will be directed to buying critical land on the Pacific slope to create migration corridors and habitat. A big thank you to Whole Foods and to New Chapter. We are awaiting a written statement regarding this proposal before allocating the funds.
Clarification of MCL Priorities. Statement from Julia Matamoros regarding the most urgent needs of MCL so that we can be supporting their mission in the most helpful ways. This will include a decision on how to set up the endowment in a more binding way and whether or not we need to hire a lawyer to help with this step.
The Big Hike. On February 5 and 6 a group of 23 hiked from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve across the BEN to Poco Sol. CEOs of Seventh Generation, Whole Foods US, Whole Foods Southern California, Pet Promise, Kopali Organics, Nude Cosmetics, New Chapter, a reporter and photographer from the New York Times, and numerous good friends from MCL made the hike. New friendships were formed that may be very useful to MCLUS in future fundraising. An article appeared on the front page of the second section in the New York Times on March 1 that got our name out there.
The Hollywood Gala. On May 8 there will be a fundraising party a Creative Artists Agency in Hollywood with a video prepared by Mark Wainwright and Alex Villegas called “Stranded” to tell the urgent story of the need for creating Pacific slope corridors. Movie star, Daryl Hannah, will be the mistress of ceremonies. Tom Newmark is spearheading the gala with lots of help from his daughter and sons and many recruited friends.
The Forever Forest: Kids Save a Tropical Treasure by Kristin Pratt-Serafini and Rachel Crandell is in bookstores now to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the BEN. It is a gorgeously illustrated children’s book that will tell the story of the BEN to countless children who are already fans of Kristin’s books. The Forever Forest sells for $16.95. If purchased in bookstores Rachel will receive less than $.50 to donate to the BEN. However, if purchased directly from MCLUS, we will receive $8.50 as a donation to the BEN from each book. $20 will include postage and an autographed copy. Kristin accompanied the March 2007 trip to the BEN and began her paintings and research in situ.
Sister City, Estes Park, Colorado. Nick Mole from Estes Park made a film called “The Monteverde Experience” shown in Colorado celebrating Monteverde as their Sister City. Nick has sent us a copy of the DVD. It is well done and should promote the BEN and bring us some good publicity.
Summary. The MCLUS officers and Board of Directors are pleased with our continued progress and can foresee growing benefits to the BEN and every other activity which MCLUS supports. We raised more money than any previous year. Prominent articles featuring forests in Monteverde appeared in two very prominent newspapers, and a new book has just come out for children about the BEN. That is a lot of public awareness about our work. We have deep and constant gratitude for the faithful and willing support of so many who have responded to our requests.
Treasurer’s Report for FY2007 – Available on request to: email@example.com