by Rowan Eisner in Monteverde
Over the past couple of years, the Monteverde Conservation League Information Center has been undergoing a transformation to encourage people to come to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest (CER). While located on the road to Monteverde and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, most visitors head to the Reserve to go zip lining but relatively few venture into the CER.
The Info Center’s transformation has been gradual, and has drawn on contributions from many sources, both local and international. Some of the enhancements include a beautiful mural painted by local artist, Bernal Gerardo Rojas, polished wooden floors and products for sale. Books by Rachel Crandell about the CER, Willow Zuchowski’s botanical guides and MCL’s current president Mark Wainwright’s mammal’s guide are featured. There are also local crafts and t-shirts for sale. The question being asked is how to get people to venture inside?
CER’s Updated Info Center
The Info Center has a stunning view of the gulf and many people come into the car park just to look at the view. Last year, Bob Howe organized a fundraiser at his grandson’s school to pay for a sign which explains the view of the CER, and hikes you can take there. It also guides visitors into the Center for further information.
In March, a number of international interns worked on beautification and improvement of the Center. When interns come to work on projects they bring about $1,000 each which funds the implementation of the project they are working on.
Their projects included: creating a new ‘Children’s Eternal Rainforest’ sign for the road connecting the Center with the forest it protects, and enhancing the car park and entrance areas with gardens contained by recycled bottle walls. The native plants for the garden were provided by the Pronativas nursery located in the CER. A group of volunteers from Costa Rican Trails, an eco-tourism company, planted the garden. Another group came last year and planted a garden on the other side of the building and it is now quite well established with hummingbird and butterfly sightings.
Another intern worked on a beautiful interpretive display for the CER composed of three signs printed on glass explaining the biodiversity of the area, MCL’s conservation efforts in the CER and the need for rainforests.
Sarah Dowell, a local nature artist with the help of Margie Howe, painted a tapir (the symbol of the CER), onto the front of the building. A display frame has also been installed on the front of the building which can be used for rotating art contributions from the community. Currently it is showing the winners of the schools painting contest from the Eco Fair. And MCLUS has bought a photo display frame to mount on the wall to show stunning pictures of what can be seen in the CER, visible from the sign at the view outside.
What more could be done to encourage people to visit the newly updated Center? One possibility would be to create a cafe on the veranda that would take advantage of the stunning view – a full commercial kitchen already exists in the building. Another possibility is to install an engaging, world-class conservation exhibition explaining the importance of the forests and how they are conserved. These are just a few of this year’s internship proposals. In the meantime, MCL is very grateful for all the volunteers who have made these upgrades possible!