Primary Forest Conservation Program
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Primary forests are defined as naturally regenerated forests of native tree species that have remained relatively undisturbed by human activity and the ecological processes are not significantly changed.

Among tropical forests, primary forests are the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. They are also the only ones capable of providing full environmental and ecological functionality (IUCN, n.d.). There are only a few primary forests left. Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse regions on earth and La Ceiba is a primary forest.

It is crucial and essential that humans realize that forests are not only essential to reversing climate change, but also vital for life on Earth. When we consider that Global Forest Watchreports that 80% of earth’s land species live in the forests, we cannot turn our backs on the actions needed to save and protect them.

Forests provide life support for all - humans, animals, and plants. They are essential to many natural processes that include the CO2 capture, water cycle, protection against floods, drought, erosion. They are a source for medicine, food, and their natural beauty may become an economic source through tourism.

Primary Forest Conservation

A Global Issue

The United Nations Environmental Program estimates that around 1600 million people depend directly on forests for their livelihood. This includes 70 million Indigenous people, the most vulnerable human population on the planet. The loss of forest ecosystems affects us all, without exception. Due to hu-man-induced drivers such as deforestation, pollution, or hunting, the current species extinction level is up to 10 ten times higher than the natural extinction rate.

Protecting rainforests is considered to be paramount to combating climate change. These bio-rich sources of life once covered all land in tropical countries, Deforestation has changed that. Today they only cover 6% of Earth’s land surface, half of the world's plants and animals depend on rainforests to survive. Rainforest survival is critical not only to conserving biodiversity but also to protect our own survival on this planet, as tropical forests are considered to be paramount to combat climate change.

“The Earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve. People can achieve great things. The next ten years present us with one of our greatest tests – a decade of action to repair the Earth.” - Prince William, Global Alliance

Costa Rica is the First Tropical Country to Stop and Even Reverse Deforestation

Costa Rica was down to barely half of its original forest cover in the eighties. Taking the lead in the fight for environmental protection, conservation, and restoration, the country was able to restore forests to the current 76%. In 2021, this truly remarkable achievement was recognized and awarded the Earth-shot Prize. The prize was created by Prince William and the Global Alliance, an unprecedented network of organizations worldwide who share a vision to drive change and help repair our planet.

Costa Rica has both primary and secondary forests. Through successful reforestation, most of the cur-rent tropical forests in Costa Rica are secondary forests. Only 24% of the forests in Costa Rica are primary rainforests (UN FAO, 2022) and the majority are located in the Southern Caribbean zone that is home to the largest remaining patch of primary forest in the country.

These unique forests belong to the Talamanca Biological Corridor, and are corridors that provide biolog-ical pathways for wildlife, preserve water, and protect the biodiversity of species of flora and fauna. They also connect patches of rainforest providing wildlife safe access to diverse resources in changing seasons, and gives fauna all the habitats it needs during various stages of its life, including reproduction, growth, and shelter.

Furthermore, the Talamanca Biological Corridor is one of the most important endemic zones within Central America, connecting with the international Amistad National Park with Panama. These forests provide refuge for 60% of Costa Rica’s wildlife animals including 75% of the country’s known amphibi-an and reptile species.

Primary Forest Conservation
Primary Forest Conservation

La Ceiba Primary Forest is Under Pressure

La Ceiba Primary Forest is located within the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, one of Costa Rica’s natural treasures and part of the Talamanca Biological Corridor. The property’s rugged terrain and mountainous areas are the perfect environment for diverse biological habitats and natural flora and fauna. This nature reserve has a high ecological value due to their primary forest cover. La Ceiba Primary Forest plays a key role in the reintroduction of rehabilitated animals that arrive at the Jaguar Rescue Center.

However, the area is suffering increasing pressure from a growing human population that has begun to establish in this area and all along the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Refuge. This increase in popula-tion in the Caribbean has been most significant in the last couple of years following the pandemic. People want to escape city life and seek the peace and tranquility that this landscape has to offer, but at what price?

Increased deforestation, changes in government issued use of land permits, sound and light pollution, electrocutions, wildlife being injured by vehicles, and constantly attacked by local dogs and cats are just some examples of the impact created by human population growth in this area. The protection of this land is absolutely critical in order to preserve the natural habits of thousands of species.

Primary Forest Conservation

The Jaguar Rescue Center since 2014 has made great economic efforts trying to ac-quire primary forest to preserve and offer it as a secure permanent home for the area’s wildlife.

Since 2018, The JRC has achieved 368 successful wildlife releases within La Ceiba. The continuous monitoring and field cameras located in strategic places, have revealed the presence of species that are unique to well preserved forests like the endangered Puma (Puma concolor), the Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), as well as the Central America Bushmaster (Lachesis stenophry)


Primary Forest Conservation

La Ceiba Primary Forest is also a privileged place for bird observation. It offers the best environment for local species to thrive, and it is a good setting for migrant birds to safely rest and feed before they continue their journey. The property has platforms that offer a premium location to see the amazing bird migration that takes place in September and October of each year. Close to 150,000 migrant birds of prey can be seen flying in the area on any given day.

The property also gives shelter to a significant amount of reptile and amphibian species creating a per-fect location for research. There are several man-made lagoons for amphibian sightings. The area has natural creeks where one can find turtles and caimans.

Protecting the Future

La Ceiba Primary Forest Project seeks conservation, preservation, and care of the primary forest, as-sisting in the survival of the local wildlife, protecting regional fauna and making sure this unique ecosys-tem survives for many years.

As humans, we strive for a safe space, and a true home where we can live,grow, and be safe. It is of critical importance that we work as hard and relentlessly as possible to offer the same for all species. This is possible through forest conservation.

There is no doubt that a society that invests in safeguarding its forests will create a brighter future for the next generations.

By protecting the Forest, we protect life…

Be a part of the change, together we CAN make a difference.

Primary Forest Conservation