Reventazón Model Forest


Country: Costa Rica
Location: Province of Cartago
Year joined IMFN: 2003
Area of Model Forest: 312,400 hectares
Regional affiliation: Ibero-American Model Forest Network

Contact information

Ligia Quirós

Forest profile and resources

The Reventazón Model Forest, located in the province of Cartago in Costa Rica, spans the mid and upper basin of the Reventazón river and the mid basin of the Pacuare river, on its Atlantic side, and the upper part of the great basin of Tásades on its Pacific side; it also contains parts of the Central and Pacific conservation areas [Áreas de Conservación Cordillera Volcánica Central (ACCVC) y La Amistad – Pacífico (ACLA – P)]. It includes 10 protected public areas and at least four private ones. This zone is of great importance for the country, as it includes major sources of potable water and for hydroelectric power generation, fertile lands, contiguous with the main population centre of the country, a region with marginal communities and cultural wealth, significant areas of natural woods, potential for tourism and varied economic development, centres for research, experimentation, and education, various uses for land, protected areas, and geographic and climatic diversity, among other points. 

Economic profile

The east of the province is underpopulated, while the north and west are highly populated and economically exploited. The beginning of the current decade has been marked by a drop in growth, persistent levels of unemployment, and a situation in which more than 20& of families live in poverty. Poverty in the province of Cartago is more severe on the indigenous reserves, as well as in certain rural areas and low urban barrios. Consider, for example, the social and economic gaps in the canton of Turrialba, which represents 51% of the territory of the province. 

Although in the south and east sectors, the largest, there is a predominance of forest cover, the rest of the area, above all in the north of the province, is being used for agro-fishing and industrial and residential purposes. It is fitting to point out certain groups of persons present in the region as representative of the problems faced there, including the small and medium farmers, where mixed crops predominate as a means of subsistence, agricultural workers and farmhands, located in nuclear settlements; landholders, who apply pressure through programs for land titlement and distribution; and the employees of the Cartago industrial zone. 

In the Reventazón river basin, 11% of the total value of the country’s agricultural exports are produced, 38% of its hydroelectric energy and 50% of its cement. Fifty percent of the water produced by the metropolitan area of San José comes from the basin, which also supports the conservation of significant natural resources, through its protected areas. The indigenous Cabécares are one of the most culturally diverse peoples in all of Costa Rica. They occupy three reserves, situated within the Model Forest, specifically within the canton of Turrialba, and extending into the province of Limón. 

Why a Model Forest?

An internal working network has been formed within the province, which makes it possible to establish new ties and beneficial working relationships for joint work on new themes. Openness has been created for coordinated work efforts on priority themes for the province, such as rural, sustainable tourism and support for the indigenous population of Cabecares, among others.


  • Ministry of the environment and energy
  • National council for protected areas [Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas, CONAP]
  • Federation of municipalities of Cartago [Federación de Municipalidades de Cartago]
  • Federation of associations for the integral development of Cartago [Federación de Asociaciones de Desarrollo Integral de Cartago]
  • Chamber of commerce, industry, tourism and services of Cartago [Cámara de Comercio, Industria, Turismo y Servicios de Cartago]
  • National horticultural corporation [Corporación Hortícola Nacional]
  • Small Grants Programme from the world fund for the environment, Global Environment Facility [Programa de Pequeñas Donaciones del Fondo Mundial para el Medio Ambiente del GEF]
  • Regional office Cartago for aqueducts and sewer systems [Acueductos y Alcantarillados oficina Regional de Cartago]
  • Tropical agronomics centre for research and teaching [Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza - CATIE]

Strategic goals

  • Program for associative management
  • Program for research-based action and technical, social, political and economic support
  • Program for association-based producer initiatives that are compatible with the environment
  • Program for association-based initiatives for the conservation of biodiversity and protection of the environment

Achievements to date

  • The concept and initiative of the Reventazón Model Forest has been spread at the regional level to potential partners, and internationally
  • Financial and technical support has been funnelled to essential organizations in the areas of rural tourism and environmental management from the local level, with the support of the Small Grants Programme and the University of Costa Rica (UCR) (Master’s degree in environmental management and ecotourism)
  • Technical support has been channelled from CATIE, the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica (ITCR) and other sources to meet needs for consultancy and training for municipalities, primarily for associations of administrators of rural aqueducts
  • Focussed research has been conducted by student researchers from CATIE primarily, but also from the ETH in Switzerland and the University of Wageningen in Holland, in support of partners who require information and innovation