All of us at Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge, Hacienda Barú Lodge, and Hacienda Barú Ecotours are proud to inform our visitors, friends, and the general public that on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, in Paris, France, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program declared the Savegre River basin and much of the surrounding area, including Hacienda Barú, “The Savegre Biosphere Reserve”. The program designates certain areas of the planet that are well conserved and representative of a variety of natural habitats as biosphere reserves. The program is unique in that it not only promotes the protection of natural areas but also values sustainable human activities within those areas.
The Savegre Biosphere Reserve extends from Manuel Antonio National Park, including its area of marine reserve, along the coast to Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge and the Barú River. From the coast it follows the Savegre River basin, and the basins of numerous other rivers such as the Barú upwards to the central mountain range at 3400 meters (11,155 feet) of altitude. In addition to Manuel Antonio one other national park Los Quetzales is found within its boundaries, as are Cerro Nara Protected Zone, Los Santos Forest Reserve, Cerro Vueltas Biological Reserve, and two national wildlife refuges, Hacienda Portalón and Hacienda Barú. The Savegre Biosphere Reserve contains 20% of the plant species, 54% of the mammal species, and 59% of the bird species found in Costa Rica. It includes three biological corridors, Los Santos, Rio Naranjo, and Path of the Tapir. The total area is 312,914 hectares (733,227 acres). Parts of four cantons, Quepos, Pérez Zeledón, Dota, and Tarrazú, and two conservation areas Central Pacific (ACOPAC) and La Amistad Pacifico (ACLA-P) are included. Approximately 50,000 people live and work within the reserve at a variety of activities including sport fishing, farming, cattle ranching, fish farming, adventure tourism and ecological tourism.
The project to accomplish the declaration of Savegre Biosphere Reserve by MAB was a daunting task that was begun in 2011. It was spearheaded by the Association Friends of Nature of the Central and South Pacific (ASANA), the organization which founded the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor in 1990. Hacienda Barú is a long time supporter of ASANA, and the current ASANA office is located on a lot donated by the lodge. In order to accomplish this goal it was necessary to acquire the approval and cooperation of four municipalities, two areas of conservation of the environmental ministry, and many community and environmental organizations.
Even though the designation biosphere reserve by the Man and the Biosphere program of UNESCO is international the area remains part of the sovereign country of Costa Rica and is subject to its laws. This means that the Costa Rican government and the inhabitants of the Savegre Biosphere Reserve are charged with conserving the amazing natural richness of the area and educating residents and visitors about sustainable use of the land.
As of the end of 2016 there were 669 biosphere reserves located in 120 countries. Of those reserves 14 cross international boundaries meaning their territories include area within more than one country. The Savegre Biosphere Reserve is the fourth to be named in Costa Rica. The others are La Amistad, the Volcanic Mountain Range, and Water and Peace.
It is a privilege and an honor to know that Hacienda Barú forms part of such an exceptional reserve, and we will continue to strive to protect our natural treasures and encourage others to do the same. We intend to ensure that we continue to be worthy of forming part of the Savegre Biosphere Reserve.