EPHI Costa Rica – Project Sites

Our study area is located in central–southern Costa Rica on the Caribbean and Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountains. This is a volcanic mountain range that forms the spine of the Central American isthmus from central Costa Rica through western Panama. The 12 study sites are located along an altitudinal gradient from 700 to 3.200 m a.s.l.

Los Nimbulos Biological Station

2800-3100 m a.s.l.; band 1

Los Nimbulos is a property of 50 ha located in the Cerro de la Muerte mountain, which historically has passed from one to another owner. Originally, oak forests in this property were exploited for charcoal production and other uses. Subsequently, the deforested land was used for livestock activity. It was not until 1995 that Federico Valverde, who named the property as the Nimbulos Reserve, decided to protect and conserve the whole area aiming for it to be used as a natural laboratory for students and researchers. Currently, there are several ongoing projects in this Reserve from different national and international universities. Topics of these projects are: oak seed dispersal by rodents, biomass produced by oaks, phytochemical properties of the forest, monitoring of mammal populations with trap cameras and ecology of plant-hummingbird interactions in an elevational gradient. Also, there are some master and doctoral theses research in progress focused on fungi, birds, wildlife inventories, aquatic algae and plant phenology, among others. Federico’s efforts towards natural resources conservation and scientific research has allowed the recovery of the forest and wildlife, making it a highly biodiverse area characteristic of the highlands of Costa Rica. So, as he says, maybe one day this area will no longer be called “Cerro de la Muerte” and we will call it “Cerro de la Vida”.


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Forest’s friends farm

2800-3100 m a.s.l.; band 1

The Forest’s friends farm is a family project that is located in the community of Siberia in the canton of Pérez Zeledón. It is a family project that has an area of 9 ha of which 95% is under conservation. Their owners carry out economic activities in a sustainable manner such as the production of Shitake mushrooms in the fallen trunks of oaks, organic agriculture of rice and cape gooseberry and the manufacture of jams and wines. They are also dedicated to ecological tourism through the forest trails, talks and food service with vegetables growing in their farm. With its environmental awareness, its sustainable development and its commitment to the conservation of natural resources, the inhabitants of this farm are genuinely friends of the forest.


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Villa Mills Experimental Biological Station

2700-2800 m a.s.l.; band 1

Villa Mills is located in the community of Piedra Alta in the canton of Pérez Zeledón. This station is located within the Río Macho Forest Reserve, which is part of the National System of Conservation Areas. The reserve was created in 1964 to protect the forest and hydric resources in the southern Talamanca mountain range. This area comprises several life zones such as low montane rainforest, premontane rainforest and montane rainforest. The Villa Mills Biological Station is about 3000 m elevation and the main vegetation consists of oak forests. This station offers facilities for researchers and visitors who wish to learn more about high altitude ecosystems.


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Villa San Miguel Hostel

2000-2200 m a.s.l.; band 2

This hostel is located in the community of Jardín in the canton of Pérez Zeledón at Kilometer 109 of the inter-American highway. It combines tourism with the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. Its main tourist attraction is the facilities surrounded by nature and beautiful views that focus on the healing, relaxation and privacy of its visitors. The owners of this hostel aim to create environmental awareness not only in tourists but also in the neighbors of the community, so they constantly participate in several activities with educational institutions. In addition, they protect a primary forest that is available for scientific research.


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The Sibú Farm

2000-2100 m a.s.l.; band 2

The Sibú farm is located in the town of El Jardín de Páramo in the canton of Pérez Zeledón, it has a total of 24 ha, from which 14 remain in a state of total conservation. Currently, part of the land is used for the production of blackberry, oranges, tree tomato and other highland crops in small plots. The future vision of its owners is aimed at tourism development, taking into account sustainable measures and policies to minimize environmental impact. Due to its location and altitude it has wonderful views of great attraction: you can see the center of San Isidro de El General, Cerro Paraguas, Cerro Chirripó and Los Crestones, the latter declared in 2011 as a national symbol. Due to its richness in flora and fauna, it becomes an optimal place for its visitors to have a connection with nature within a friendly environment and unique experiences.

The Tolomuco Forest

1700-1800 m a.s.l.; band 2

The Tolomuco Forest is located at kilometer 18 of the inter-American highway in the canton of Pérez Zeledón. It is a 22-ha property that offers accessible trails for hiking through the forest and cabins equipped to stay. It also offers its visitors a peaceful environment surrounded by nature to relax and enjoy. Bird watching is their specialty; it is possible to observe around 241 bird species, due to its good location and its diversity of habitats, such as garden areas, forest edges, open areas and the forest itself. The name of this forest alludes to the mammal Eira barbara from the family Mustelidae which is commonly known as tolomuco.


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 Los Gigantes Ecological Trail

1200-1600 m a.s.l.; band 3

The Los Gigantes Ecological Trail, whose motto is “an encounter with God and nature”, is located in San José de Rivas in Pérez Zeledón canton. It is a forested area preserved and managed by the San José de Rivas Agricultural Borderless Environmental Association, which is made up of residents of the community. They have kept a path open to the public since February 15, 2015 where visitors can enjoy the flora and fauna of the area. Its name is due to two giant tirra trees, also known as olmos (Ulmus mexicaca, Ulmaceae) that are halfway along the path. In addition to tourist activities such as guided walks and food service, the association also cooperates with education and scientific research.


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Las Quebradas Biological Center

1100-1300 m a.s.l.; band 3

Las Quebradas Biological Center is an area dedicated to the conservation of natural resources that in addition to protecting the flora and fauna of the region also protects the water resource of the aqueduct that provides drinking water to the city of San Isidro El General. It is administered by Las Quebradas Biological Center for Development Foundation (FUDEBIOL), which is a social and non-profit organization whose objectives are conservation, sustainable development, ecotourism and scientific development.


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Las Nubes Project

1100-1300 m a.s.l.; band 3

Las Nubes is a project of the Faculty of Environmental Studies at the University of York (Toronto, Canada) supported by the Fisher Fund for Neotropic Conservation. The biological station of this project is located in Santa Elena in the canton of Pérez Zeledón. This project contributes to the conservation of natural resources and is part of the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor, it is interested in the welfare of the community with projects such as La Casita Azul, which is a learning center. In addition, the education of its students is strengthened with the courses taught in the field and contribute to the development of scientific research collaborating with other universities.


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Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary

600-800 m a.s.l.; band 4

Los Cusingos is a private reserve of the Tropical Science Center (CCT) that originated where one of the pioneer scientists in Costa Rica, Alexander Skutch, once lived. It has a museum with objects of this famous ornithologist inside his house that is surrounded by a botanical garden. In addition, it has a network of trails where visitors can observe a great biodiversity, but especially birds. The CCT with its private reserves has focused on the conservation of natural resources, community development and scientific research.


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Rio Magnolia Nature Lodge

700-800 m a.s.l.; band 4

Rio Magnolia Nature Lodge is an ecotourism project located in La Alfombra in the canton of Pérez Zeledón. With elegant facilities and gourmet restaurant service they offer all the comforts so that their guests can relax and enjoy nature. Río Magnolia is committed to the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, 90 ha of primary and secondary forest are under protection. They also participate in a conservation program for the mitigation of greenhouse gases and are part of a reforestation project. The electricity needed for the facilities is renewable and it is produced by a hydroelectric system placed on the Magnolia river that runs through the property. Its natural area is also part of the UNESCO Savegre Biosphere Reserve and offers opportunities for scientific research.


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Longo Mai Wildlife Refuge

600-700 m a.s.l.; band 4

Longo Mai is a community of approximately 700 farmer residents located in the Volcano of Buenos Aires, Puntarenas. It has an area of 850 ha of which 450 are primary and secondary forests that are conserved and protected by the community. Its inhabitants have a strong environmental awareness and many are part of a social movement that has protected the region’s water resource. The refuge also has a volunteer program where people from other countries can have the experience of living and contributing to a community that lives in an authentic, sustainable and ecological way. They are also open to collaborate with scientific research projects.


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