Mombacho Cloudforest, Nicaragua

Help Schoolkids Protect a Mountaintop Cloudforest

Capuchin Monkey - Photo by Ma José Paniagua Cloudforests are rainforests that are found at elevations higher than 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) above sea level. They are cool, misty and filled with brilliantly hued orchids, bromeliads and hundreds of species of wildlife. In Central Africa, cloudforests are home to mountain gorillas, and in Central America, these special ecosystems safeguard the crimson-breasted, emerald-plumed resplendent quetzal, which many believe to be the most beautiful bird in the world. Unfortunately, cloudforests are also rapidly disappearing from the Tropics all over the world.

One of Nicaragua's most important cloudforests drapes the slopes of the inactive Mombacho Volcano, southwest of the capital city of Managua and near the shores of Lake Nicaragua, also known as Lake Cocibolca. Mombacho is a 2,500-acre reserve, surrounded by coffee plantations and small farms. The park has an amazing variety of orchids and birds and is home to howler monkeys, along with the Mombacho Salamander and Mombacho butterfly, two species found nowhere else on Earth. The protected area is carefully managed by the Cocibolca Foundation, a local conservation group that is helping coffee growers develop sustainable agroforestry methods. Cocibolca is also working to stop the illegal extraction of orchids and birds for sale in Managua.

Students from 18 schools help the Cocibolca Foundation by working as park rangers and local guides. These volunteers also show their classmates how to restore Mombacho's forest by tending tree nurseries and planting seedlings every time they visit the reserve. The volunteers need your support to receive training, uniforms and equipment.

Your donation will also help the Cocibolca Foundation bring schoolchildren from local rural communities to visit the reserve. Each student plants two tree seedlings every time he or she visits Mombacho. When the students return, they always make sure that at least one of their trees has survived, then each student plants two more. This is a simple but important way to show their personal commitment to preserving Mombacho's forest. The Cocibolca Foundation needs your support to buy tools and maintain a tree nursery.

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