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Pablo Ureña’s family has been preserving primary forest on their farm for three generations.  As vast deserts of pineapple plantations encroach upon his property, and offers from Del Monte to sell his land are resisted, it becomes ever more apparent that his work is essential in maintaining the natural environment of the area, but he needs help.

After spending 12 years in the U.S., Pablo returned to the farm in Costa Rica to take care of his aging dad and to get back to a simpler life.  He named his farm Santuario Filaverde, or “Green Line Sanctuary”  because he knows the area is one of the last remaining pieces of primary forest in this land of corporate pineapple plantations. The forest is significant also because it continues the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor, providing essential habitat for resident capuchin monkeys, birds, and there is even a family of pumas, one of which they recently photographed.

Pablo, his son Juan Pablo, his dad and sister, had Jim, Usha and I over for lunch after our morning hike in the Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary nearby. They made us some delicious vegetables including squash (ayote & chayote), rice and beans and chicken, with freshly blended “fresco” of pineapple juice. 

 

 Santuario Filaverde -  Ureña family  Jim and Usha in Pablos truck

 

Then we set out for a walk on the farm, riding first in the back of the truck through the pasture towards their forest sanctuary. The most beautiful aspect of their forest is the towering matapalo or strangler fig trees and winding vines, evidence of it being never touched for hundreds of years.

 

Santuario Filaverde -  Matapalo tree  Santuario Filaverde - Pablo up in Matapalo tree

 

Emerging out of the forest the contrast of the surrounding pineapple plantations is striking. Knowing that the area was all natural primary rainforest and is now a vast field of pineapples that are sprayed with pesticides and injected with hormones to grow faster makes you think twice about that next pineapple, and you hope that it has come from someone’s farm, grown naturally among other plants.

 

 

 Pineapple plantations Pineapples

 

 

Pablo loves to give tours of his property, and makes a great snack of pupusas – fried tortillas filled with cheese, and coffee of course after the nice walk. His sense of humour and passion for his forest are contagious. All he needs is more visitors so that he can benefit from preserving this precious piece of nature.

 

-  Kelly Galaski