25 years protecting the environment

Filed Under: EARTH Stories
Date: February 26th, 2015
A deer roams freely through the banana plantation on the way to the Reserve.

A deer roams freely through the banana plantation on the way to the Reserve.

Located just minutes away from the plantation where EARTH’s sustainable bananas are produced, the Escalera de Mono Nature Reserve is one of the most beautiful living laboratories to be found at the University.

In 1990, the Reserve began as a seed bank to help stock EARTH’s nursery. “It was also used as a firsthand information source to create comprehensive fact sheets about native trees. Today, it is still being used to study entomology, weeds and soils,” explains Carlos L. Sandí, Manager of the Academic Forestry Farm. A year later, in 1991, EARTH leadership realized that this natural space was also an important learning tool for the general public and began promoting the Reserve as an ecotourism attraction.

The Escalera de Mono Forest Reserve has won the Ecological Blue Flag Award in Natural Protected Spaces for several consecutive years.

The Escalera de Mono Forest Reserve has won the Ecological Blue Flag Award in Natural Protected Spaces for several consecutive years.

EARTH’s reserve sits near the Tortuguero Conservation Area, stretching between the San Juan and Parismina rivers, and is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. An incredible array of animals are found in this small tropical sanctuary: 125 species of birds (of the149 species found throughout campus), 22 types of amphibians, 14 kinds of bats and 45 different mammals. In addition, a new species of tree was discovered around 2002 and given the name Eugenia earthiana.

The wealth of biodiversity found in the Reserve and the value it adds to the students’ education makes it a vital resource for the University. “Caring for the environment is a transversal value in EARTH’s educational model and is incorporated into all of the curriculum,” states Carlos. He adds, “Wildlife conservation is a topic of world interest and is important to the University. Furthermore, it should be noted that there are very few forests left in this region because most of the land is now used for agricultural production.”

Finding the balance between doing business and doing what is best for the environment is a value that has spread far beyond campus: an impact study carried out in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala revealed that 7 out of 10 EARTH graduates have performed actions related to biodiversity conservation and water, soil and waste management.

Carlos Sandí (left) in the Reserve with a group of students and tropical forestry professor Victor Hugo Morales (right).

Carlos Sandí (left) in the Reserve with a group of students and tropical forestry professor Victor Hugo Morales (right).

Today, EARTH offers its students a variety of living laboratories on campus: the Periurban Garden, the Integrated Organic Farm and the Livestock Farm, among others. But without a doubt, the Escalera de Mono Forest Reserve is the destination that inspires awe and environmental awareness; it helps us to understand that as human beings, we are responsible for protecting the plants and animals that share our planet.

An EARTH education gives you the opportunity to study in living laboratories just outside your door. Apply today and see for yourself!