Costa Rica Natural History
The geological and natural history of Costa Rica is very recent compared with the rest of the continent. Costa Rica emerged from the deep ocean and about 200 million years ago, long after life was already on the planet, in fact, Cabo Blanco was one of the first rock formations to appear.
Prior to this, populations of flora and fauna of North and South America grew independently and was the formation of Costa Rica, who served as a biological bridge for the species found. Our country is a mixture of species that arrived from North America, as the coyote and white tailed deer and species that arrived from South America as the marsupials, sloths and armadillos.
Costa Rica accounts for 4% of global biodiversity, impressive figure considering that only represents 0.03% of the total land area of the planet, with its 51,100 km2, because this country has made efforts to have 25% of its territory under some category of protection.
In Cabo Blanco Reserve alone, there are 249 species of plants identified and 55 species of mammals, 31 of them are bats, species essential for the pollination of many plants and seed dispersers, this area is rich in diversity of birds, insects, fungi, mollusks, etc.
One of the unusual events in the area, are the Tajalín crabs, Crassum cardissoma, their bodies are black, with orange legs and their purple claws. The Tajalín indicates the arrival of the rainy season, when they come from the mountains in large groups, looking for the beach to reproduce, and then return to the mountain. It is a very impressive natural phenomenon, a feast for all carnivorous animals, after an intense dry season.
The rich biodiversity of Costa Rica is favored in the Nicoya Peninsula, as their forests are located in a life zone categorized as Seasonal Tropical Wet Forest, because they are the transition between the Dry Forest and Rain Forest, allowing species from both types of ecosystems. This is a very important area to protect, as of the total Dry Forest and its transition in Latin America there’s only 1% left. Therefore, Florblanca has understood the importance of their role, as part of a biological corridor between Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve and other protected areas such as the Reserve Ario-Caletas.
The design of our gardens and the reforestation we have been doing, allows different species such as howler monkeys, iguanas, garrobos, many birds, lizards, frogs, insects, butterflies and many other species find refugee in our hotel , where every day we learn more about how to live in harmony with nature.
History of the Area
The Nicoya Peninsula was part of a large indigenous territory called La Gran Nicoya, which included the Nicoya Peninsula, Guanacaste, part of the territory of Nicaragua and spread to the Gulf Fonseca in Honduras. In pre-Columbian times, indigenous groups occupying the Nicoya Peninsula and the eastern Gulf of Nicoya had come to this region several centuries before the arrival of the Spanish and had been replaced or had mixed with local indigenous groups.
In the XVI, the whole territory of the country was occupied by various groups of indigenous people. They were organized into what is known as chiefdoms: commanding the other chiefs or local chiefs, who were heads of several villages.
Culturally and linguistically, these groups were different among themselves, although some had many affinities. Overall, the researchers divided the country into three main areas, in order to establish the main differences between these indigenous groups.
The northwestern region is called Chorotega and was inhabited by indigenous groups whose culture was similar to other peoples living in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. They were called Mesoamerican peoples who spoke a language related to the main languages of Mesoamerica: the Nahuatl.
The end of the pre-Columbian age in the Greater Nicoya suddenly arrived with the Spanish conquest. The shipments of Gil Gonzalez Davila started in 1522, followed by a number of another conquerors and mercenaries.
This confluence of expeditions with the same objectives (the control and jurisdiction over the new territories), led to infighting among the conquerors. Political instability tragically impacted the indigenous population, turning this area into a marginal neighborhood. The regulations of the Crown and the power of the church took long to arrive, leaving the territory in the hands of conquerors.
If the infighting among the conquerors was disastrous for the indigenous, the conquest itself was no less disastrous. The Gran Nicoya was not a centralized and absolutist state like in Mexico or Peru, but the territory was divided into small chiefdoms that the Spanish had to conquer one by one. It was a very long and exhausting conquest, especially if we add in the fact that they never found the wealth they expected (gold, pearls, etc.). We conclude that the attitude of the conquerors against the indigenous was terrible.
The conquerors tried to get the wealth that they couldn’t find by exploiting and enslaving the native population. The colonial economy was based on the appropriation of land by the Spanish and the introduction of horses and cattle ranching, related to trade of mules and tallow to Panama.
1935 to 1955
From the 1930’s started the expansion of the agricultural frontier, a new front of colonization started in the south of the Nicoya Peninsula. People who came to this region migrated primarily from the Central Valley: Alajuela, Atenas, Palmares, San Ramon and Esparza. They were characterized by hair and lighter skin than the locals. This group were called “the white” or “Cartagos.”
With the advent of the Cartagos, production practices intensified, generating productivity as well as the land for farming. They were the group that sped up farming. Networks were stronger, trading with Puntarenas accordingly improved the land routes. Social relations were transformed and they generalized the payment of labors. The practice of hand-to-hand began to disappear. Fences were installed between farms, eliminating the feeling of open mountain areas.
The Cartagos captured vacant lands through purchase or land rush of the locals. At this time, wood extraction for marketing was the main business. Gradually, the population was disappearing and losing its identity, and lands were converted into forest or plantations for timber and livestock.
According to Mr. Miguel Jiménez , a local of Hermosa Beach, about 70 years ago came the first families from Cóbano, Tambor, Rìo Negro and Bajos de Ario, looking for land in Santa Teresa and Playa Hermosa. A few crossed the gulf by boat from Puntarenas, and others ventured on foot through the dense forests which divided the people of Nicoya, Boards, Santa Cruz, Guanacaste and other peoples of the rest of the Peninsula of Nicoya. Small families began to establish in the area and, under very difficult conditions, they started
to appropriate the land, cut down forests to develop agriculture, and planted pastures for livestock. The government then ordered and divided the land, helping to legalize this new community. However, life was very complicated, as there were no jobs, no electricity, no access roads. Occasionally, a boat came to sell to people what they could not produce themselves. It was not long before the first foreigners arrived in the area and stay in love with this place, realizing the tourism potential it had.
Just 15 years ago, the very first tourism projects began arriving, with Florblanca coming just about 12 years ago. The growth of the area has been great over the past 6 years, which forces us to think what kind of development we want for our area, and the great responsibility we have, especially in the tourism sector, to maintain an operation which is sustainable and that we can enjoy and that creates benefits over many years.
Tourism has proven to be a great financial support for our community, but we must be aware of developing responsibly towards the environment, community, visitors and future generations.
Costa Rica Natural Reserves and Parks
In 1970, locals and government officials took action against the diminishing natural beauty of Costa Rica and turned the country into one of the most prosperous ecotourism industries in the world.
The community gathered to recognize the country’s natural beauty and save flora and fauna throughout 186 areas that are protected by the National Conservation Areas System (SINAC). SINAC now protects 32 national parks, 51 wildlife refuges, 13 forest reserves and 8 biological reserves. As one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, Costa Rica’s national parks and protected areas are some of the most interesting and beautiful places to visit. Which ones do we find in this area?
Cabo Blanco Strict Natural Reserve
This Reserve was created in 1963 by a Scandinavian couple, Olof Wessberg and Karen Morgenson. This is the first major conservation project in Costa Rica, created to protect the deforestation that was taking place along the Nicoya Peninsula in the 1950’s. This nature reserve covers a total land area of 1272 hectares as well as safeguards over 1700 hectares of the surrounding ocean. Eleven kilometers south of Montezuma and nearby the popular beaches of Mal Pais, Santa Teresa and Playa Tambor, the Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve is a must visit place for any avid nature lover.
Curu National Wildlife Refuge
The land on the Nicoya Peninsula was initially purchased by a Costa Rican named Federico Schutt de la Croix in 1933. He paid just 12,000 Costa Rican colones, which is about $24 in modern currency. After purchasing the land from the Pacific Lumber Company, de la Croix decided to completely halt the cutting down of trees and began to grow food and graze cattle in a more environmentally friendly way. The area officially became known as the Curu Wildlife Refuge in 1983. Today, the refuge is privately owned, extremely-well cared for and even more exclusive than many of the national parks in the country.
Caletas-Ario Wild Life Refuge
Founded relatively recently (in 2006), the Caletas Ario Wildlife Refuge (CANWR) has 313 hectares (773 acres) of protected land, plus protected marine reserves that extend 12 miles out to sea, encompassing 19,846 Hectares! Within this zone, highly destructive fishing practices are prohibited. It includes 7km of beaches as well, including the impressive Rio Bongo river delta and mangroves, filled with crocodiles and various other species. It includes a 7km section of the Playa Caletas beaches, which in total is 12km.
The Caletas Ario National Wildlife Refuge
This is part of a very large farm, and was inscribed to become a permanently protected piece of land by the Grew family, who moved here several decades ago from Canada. Much of the family still lives in the area. The wildlife refuge is supported by CIRENAS (Centro de Investigation de Recursos Naturales y Sociales).
Terms and Conditions When Visiting Biological Reserves
All park and reserves visitors have to respect the following regulations:
- Enter the park only by the main entrance.
- Pay for the admission fee.
- Walk on the paths and trials already established only.
- Respect all the terms established on the signs.
- Follow the security regulations established, both written as well as the ones the park rangers and out-standing volunteers give orally.
- Deposit the garbage in the garbage-bins.
- Do not use soap and shampoo in the showers.
Besides the regulations established in other legal statements, it is prohibited for visitors to:
- Cause damages to the infrastructure, the fauna, flora and other resources of the area
- Carry and use firearms and other implements of hunting or fishing.
- Enter with pets or domestic animals.
- Feed the wild animals.
- Provoke scandals, lack of morality or to consume liquor or drugs.
- Throw garbage or any pollutant substance.
- Smoke out of the areas established for such a purpose.
- Visit the Park out of the established schedule.