Reforestation in the Headwaters of the Rio Nosara in Guanacaste

Project Goal: Securing of the drinking water supply and protection of the biodiversity by reforestation of hillside pastures

Local partner organizations:

Fundación Pro Reserva Natural Monte Alto

Partner in Germany:
Hand-in-Hand-Fond der Rapunzel AG, Deutsche Umwelthilfe,

Contribution by TROPICA VERDE e.V.:
Purchase of previous hillside pastures and their reforestation by natural regeneration and reforestation with native species in mixed cultures, support of measures involving environmental education in the project area.

Guanacaste: Clear-cutting with implications for Costa Rica's Northwest
                                                                                                                           Originally, the land areas along the Pacific coast of Central America were covered with species-rich tropical dry forest. Today, this original vegetation is nearly completely gone, as the forests have fallen prey to clear cutting.

Also the province of Guanacaste in Costa Ricas’ Northwest has extensive cattle pasture on what was previously a primary forest area. Even steep slopes were not spared with the logging. The environmental sins of the past have grave consequences: Soil destruction through erosion, dramatic floods during the rainy season, and water scarcity during the dry season are direct consequences of this development.

Thus, a reforestation of this region, at least partial, is urgently necessary. However, it should comply with ecological criteria and not have as its goal the creation of monocultures with exotic tree species.

Pasture grounds on the mountain side in the headwaters of the Rio Nosara during the dry period (left). Serious erosion damage due to cattle treading (right). Photos: Tropica Verde

Project Monte Alto: Reforestation in the Headwaters of the Rio Nosara
                                                                                                                                The water supply of the Rio Nosara – source of drinking water for the inhabitants of the small town of Hojancha in the central highlands of the Nicoya peninsula – has been reduced by more than 90% in less than 25 years. Only a reforestation of the headwaters promised to reverse this catastrophic development and alleviate the water scarcity in the dry season.

In 1993, committed citizens formed the Fundación Pro Reserva Forestal Monte Alto. In 1994 the Forest Reserve Monte Alto ("Zona Protectora Nosara") with a size of 924 hectares was established. Since then, the Fundación has acquired about 300 hectares of steep inclining slopes within the reserve and let these regenerate naturally or reforested them with native species in mixed cultures. The Fundación´s goal is the reforestation of an area of about 800 hectares. Now, about half of the area is in the process of reforestation.

Since March of 1997, TROPICA VERDE is a member of the Fundación Pro Reserva Forestal Monte Alto. Practical support by TROPICA VERDE involved the 1997 and 1998 purchases of 40 hectares of grazing pastures in the project area, of which 26 hectares were reforested and the rest allowed to regenerate naturally. These and other activities involving planting and nurturing were also made possible by grants from the city of Frankfurt am Main.


Since 2001, the project has received scientific guidance from Professor Dr. Emil Rückert from the University of Applied Sciences RheinMain, who performed botanical research in the project area within the framework of a research term in 2005-2006. In the process he could rely on the results of research studies which three of his students, namely Marcus Eichenlaub, Nadine Sandau, and Daniela Schroeder, had carried out in the area of the forest reserve in 2001, 2004, and 2009 respectively.

The degree of success of this project in the future is decisively contingent upon the dedicated participation of future generations. That is the reason why TROPICA VERDE wants to contribute especially to the funding of activities involving nature conservation and environmental education. 


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