Hanging bridge in Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
© Dmitriy Burlakov/Getty Image
A walk in the clouds. Monteverde Cloud Forest 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 is in the Tilarán mountain range 5,000ft (1,524m) above sea level. Hundreds of different 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?’ They’re forests 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, they’re pretty rare. Only 1% of the current global woodland is considered true cloud forest. They are entirely dependent on an area’s local climate, so many of the 736 current ‘cloud forest’ locations are expected to change in the coming years. Monteverde, in fact, is 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.