PERIL AND PROMISE: INSIDE MONTEVERDE

In our ongoing Peril and Promise series, we’ll take you from the urban jungle of New York City to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the seven natural wonders of Costa Rica, which is now under the growing threat of climate change.

Peril and Promise is an ongoing series of reports on the human impact of, and solutions for, Climate Change. Lead funding for Peril and Promise is provided by Dr. P. Roy Vagelos and Diana T. Vagelos. Major support is provided by Marc Haas Foundation and Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III.

Aired on July 25, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> AS PART OF OUR ONGOING PROMISE INITIATIVE THAT EXPLORES THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE, WE TAKE YOU TONIGHT FROM THE URBAN JUNGLE OF NEW YORK CITY TO ONE OF OUR PLANT'S MOST DIVERSE AND STUNNING RAIN FOREST, THE CLOUD FOREST IN COSTA RICA, DESCRIBED OF THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN OF CLOUD FOREST PRESERVES.

IT'S FACING THREATS FROM OUR CHANGING CLIMATE.

WITH A RISE IN TEMPERATURE AND ENDANGERING HUNDREDS OF SPECIES.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MASTERS STUDENTS HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO TRAVEL TO MONTE VERDE.

THEY DOCUMENTED THEIR EXPERIENCE.

CAN PRIVATE RAIN FOREST RESERVES PLAY A ROLE IN SAVING THE WORLD'S BIODIVERSITY?

THIS PLACE IS JUST ABOUT 15 SQUARE MILES.

BUT WE HAVE ABO 2% TO 3% OF THE --

WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO MATCHING ECOUTURISM WITH LONG-TERM HABITAT PRESERVATION.

YOU HAVE TO BALANCE YOUR CONSERVATION GOALS WITHOUT RISKING THE INTEGRITY OF THE SYSTEM YOU ARE TRYING TO CONSERVE.

TWO SURPRISING CASES FROM COSTA RICA PROVIDE INSIGHT INTO THE POTENTIAL AND CHALLENGES FACING THE WORLD'S PRIVATE RAIN FOREST SANCTUARY.

BOTH JOHN AND JULIE ARE STUDYING GLOBAL WARMING AS PART OF THEIR MASTERS OF DEVELOPMENT PRACTICE PROGRAM AT COLUMBIA.

PLEASED TO WELCOME THEM BOTH TO US.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU.

THANKS FOR HAVING US.

IT'S A FASCINATING FILM YOU PUT TOGETHER AND THE STORY IS FASCINATING.

LET'S START OFF WITH THE BIG PICTURE.

WE OFTEN HEAR ABOUT RAIN FORESTS.

THIS ONE IS NOWHERE NEAR MANHATTAN.

WHY DO WE AS SOCIETY NEED TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT RAIN FORESTS?

I DON JOHN, ASK YOU FIRST.

WHEN KWLOE LOOK AT RAIN FORESTS OF THE ECOSYSTEM, THEY'RE THE LUNGS OF THE WORLD.

THEY'RE SUCKING IN THE CARBON DIOXIDE.

A THREAT TO THE RAIN FOREST IS IN SOME REAL SENSE A THREAT TO OUR OWN LIVES.

WHAT GOT YOU INTO THIS?

THE TWO OF YOU, AS YOU INDICATED, ARE INVOLVED IN THESE MASTERS PROGRAMS, WHAT WAS IT THAT GOT YOU THERE TO COSTA RICA?

IT WAS DEFINITELY THE MELDING OF CONSERVATION AS WELL AS THE FILM PROJECT THAT BROUGHT MY PASSION INTO THIS PROJECT.

CONS VISION, ESPECIALLY IN MONTE VERDE, IT'S 3.5% OF THE BIODIVERSITY IN THE WORLD, IN THE 50,000 ACRES, IF THAT ISN'T WORTH PROTECTING, WHAT IS?

LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME OF YOUR FINDINGS.

JOHN, SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT, AND I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, THREATS TO THIS MARVELOUS RAIN FOREST, WHAT ARE THE THREATS THAT YOU'VE FOUND?

THE MAIN THREAT, IN REALITY, IS NEGLECT BECAUSE IF THEY CAN'T FIND ENOUGH FUNDING TO PRESERVE THE ORGANIZATIONS THAT ACTUALLY MAINTAIN THE BORDERS, HIRE THE GUARDS TO PROTECT FROM POACHERS AND LOGGERS.

IT'S SO HARD TO GET FUNDING THESE DAYS FOR MAINTENANCE.

IT'S A LOT EASIER TO GET FUNDING FOR RAIN FORESTS AND CONSERVATION IN GENERAL IF YOU'RE GIVING -- IF YOU'RE DOING REFORESTATION, LAND THAT'S USING FOR AGRICULTURE NOW AND MAKING THAT INTO FORESTS.

BUT FOR JUST GETTING DONATIONS FOR MAINTAINING THE RAIN FOREST, IT'S HARD.

I FOUND THAT INTERESTING AND INTRIGUING.

I SUSPECT, WHEN PEOPLE YOU TALK TO, WE HAVE TO PRESERVE THEM, WE DON'T CUT THEM DOWN.

BUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT FUNDING FOR MAINTENANCE, THAT MIGHT BE SURPRISING TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY SAY IT'S A RAIN FOREST.

WHAT KIND OF MAINTENANCE ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT TO PEOPLE?

FORESTS ARE AN ISLAND, A SMALL AREA OF LAND SURROUNDED BY SOCIETY, CITIES, TOWNS AND THESE CITIES AND TOWNS ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR MORE RESOURCES.

IF YOU WERE TO LEAVE THESE FORESTS TO THEIR OWN DEVICES, UNKEPT, IT'S INEVITABLE THE COMMUNITIES WOULD COME IN AND JUST AS A NATURE OF ECONOMICS USE THE FOREST FOR THEIR OWN BENEFIT.

AS WE'VE SEEN THROUGHOUT HISTORY.

THROUGHOUT HISTORY, YEAH.

ADDITIONALLY, YOU NEED ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION, THE PROGRAMS THAT ARE GOING ON AT THE CHILDREN'S ETERNAL RAIN FOREST, AT THE MONTE VERDE FOREST, THOSE ARE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS TEACHING THE COMMUNITIES THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RAIN FOREST.

AND IN GENERAL, THE COMMUNITY IS NOT SEEING THE IMPORTANCE.

THE COMMUNITY NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND THEY SEE THAT SAS RESOURCE.

THROUGHOUT HISTORY, THAT'S WHAT WE'VE DONE.

IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE TO RETEACH THEM.

IF YOU LOOK AT COSTA RICA AS A CASE STUDY, FROM THE '50s INTO THE EARLY '80s, IT WAS IN A RAPID STAGE OF DEFORESTATION.

IT WAS IN THE '90s ONWARD WE'VE SEEN A REVERSAL OF THAT TREND.

IS COSTA RICA LEADING THE CHARGE IN TERMS OF PRESERVING THE ECOSYSTEM?

THEY'RE DEFINITELY A LEADER IN LIKE THE GLOBAL CONSERVATION MOVEMENT.

ADDITIONALLY, THEY HAVE LIKE A VERY HOT DEBATE FOR TOURISM VERSUS SUSTAINABILITY AND CONSERVATION.

THE COMMUNITIES ARE GOING BACK AND FORTH WITH THIS RIGHT NOW.

IT'S WONDERFUL WORK DONE BY YOU, AS I SAID, PROVOCATIVE, HELPING TO TELL THE STORY.

GREAT STORY TELLING HERE AND GETTING PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT THAT ALL IS.

JOHN AND JULIE, THANK YOU FOR SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US.

JOHN, HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

THANK YOU.

THOUGHT I WOULD THROW THAT IN.

BUT AGAIN, GREAT WORK FROM BOTH OF YOU.

THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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