Costa Rica Flora and Fauna

On Thursday 18 January CHAPS members were treated to a very enjoyable slide show by Myra Johnson on the Flora and Fauna of Costa Rica following a trip she and her husband took there in 2016.
Costa Rica is not a large country representing only 0.01% of the earth’s surface. It is 300 miles from north to south, 175 miles east to west at the widest point, has an area of 20,000 square miles, with a coastline of 800 miles. It has four mountain ranges and volcanoes. However, it supports more than 5% of the earth’s biodiversity with one million or more plant and animal species and 10% of the world’s butterfly species and bird species.
It was colonised by the Spanish from 1506 following Columbus stepping ashore in 1491. It became an independent country in 1821 and declared neutrality in 1948 and as such has no army.
By the late 1960s, after decades of deforestation and dwindling animal populations, appreciation began to develop that something precious was being lost. This was followed by a tourism boom in the 1980s with a government committed to environmental protection.
Today, Costa Rica is a world leader in ecotourism with protected regions grouped into 11 regional units in a National System of Conservation. There is active co-operation between international and national NGOs, local businesses and government organisations. As a result, ecotourism is protecting the country’s national treasures and provides economic opportunities to rural areas where sustainable development protects landscapes from destructive agricultural practices.
The biomes or life zones in Costa Rica are made up of:
Lowland Rainforest (tropical moist forest or jungle) which comprises a layered ecosystem with niche microenvironments and microclimates. It is typified by tall trees, lianas, creeping vines, huge buttresses, epiphytes, heliconias, orchids, walking palms and is found in the Caribbean lowlands, Pacific slopes in the south, Osa Peninsula. Generally the soil is thin as the leaf litter decomposes rapidly and rainfall leaches the soil. Trees are genetically coded for growth when large trees fall opening a space.
Montane/Cloud forest (1000-2000m) which is often enshrouded in clouds. The trees have broader leaves with huge oaks laden with red bromeliads and other epiphytes and mosses towering above an understory of bamboos and ferns.
Tropical Dry Forest which is made up of deciduous trees which do not form a closed canopy. This is found in north-west of the country.
Mangroves are found mainly on the Pacific and the northern Caribbean coasts. The tree species have aerial roots to allow them to survive in soil inundated with salt water. These trees stabilise the area against tides and storm surges. The root system offers protection to wildlife against predators and also a vital nesting and nursery site for birds and marine life
Coral reefs can be found on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts.
Myra’s trip started and ended in San Jose. Firstly they went to the east coast to Tortuguero and Cahuita. The trip then crossed the country through Turrialba, La Marta and Savegre to Sierpe, Drake Bay and Corcovado in the South West.
Myra had a wonderful set of photographs of birds, animals, spiders, snakes, cayman and monkeys as well as many pictures of the flowers and vegetation. The only things we were missing to bring a wonderful trip fully to life was the associated noises and the smells.