~ by Jack Ewing

Paradise is found in the eyes of the beholder. For many of us who live in Costa Ballena, it is a place surrounded by tropical nature, where flora and fauna are abundant and biodiversity is high. For us, Costa Ballena today fits this definition, but 40 years ago, it did not.

The area was dominated by cattle ranches and rice farms, and the only rainforest was found on the steepest, most rugged slopes.

Since its founding in 1990, the southern portion of the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor (PTBC) has been located within Costa Ballena. At that time, a small group of community and environmental leaders from Uvita and Dominical got together and discussed the eroding away of our natural treasures that was taking place before our eyes. That meeting gave birth to the corridor project.

Capuchin Monkey

The first step was raising the awareness of the importance of tropical nature through environmental education.

Later, with an increased appreciation of nature and the advent of tourism in the region, many large agricultural properties were subdivided and converted into tourism and residential lots.

New property owners weren’t interested in raising cattle; rather, they wanted to see monkeys and toucans. Most had more land than they needed for a home or business, and decided to abandon the excess to Mother Nature. This allowed secondary forests to replace pastures and fields.

By the year 2000, the project had advanced considerably, and previously scarce wildlife was returning. Today, all four species of monkeys can be found in much of Costa Ballena and the PTBC.

Populations of large carnivores, like pumas and ocelots, have returned. There are over 400 species of birds. Costa Ballena is one of the few places in the world where biodiversity is increasing.

We must give credit to the people who live here for making it that way.

Now, hard work begins: defending the paradise we have created.

INFO: Hacienda Baru – http://www.haciendabaru.com