Hanging bridge in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica
© Dmitriy Burlakov/Getty Image
How's the air up there?. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in Costa Rica
Today we're taking a walk through the clouds to visit one of the most beautiful and biodiverse places on the planet. Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is in the Tilarán mountain range 5,000 feet above sea level. Hundreds of animal species and thousands of insect and plant species call the forest home. Diligent nature lovers could count nearly 700 types of butterflies and 500 species of orchids during a visit. Famous in the scientific community, the forest also attracts more than 70,000 tourists a year.
You may be wondering, what exactly is a 'cloud forest?' Different than a rainforest, a cloud forest is high enough above sea level to be covered by persistent mist and fog generated by the forest's own evaporating moisture. This makes for a damp and humid, yet cool environment. Generally tropical, cloud forests are pretty rare. Only 1% of the current global woodland is considered true cloud forest. Entirely dependent on an area's local climate, it is expected that many of the 736 locations currently identified as cloud forests will be strongly impacted and altered in the coming years. Monteverde, in fact, is known as the location where the first climate-related species extinction was recorded—in the 1980s, the golden toad fell victim to a parasitic fungus that spread into the area due to the changing climate.