In my previous blog, I introduced Prince Charles’s new Rainforest Project with its splendid objective of ‘making the rainforests worth more alive than dead’.  To outbid the loggers and developers who are destroying the rainforests to make a quick buck – by somehow paying more to the countries that are custodians of the rainforests than they get from the loggers and the cash crop conglomerates who exploit the destroyed forest lands.

There’s no flesh on the bones of the Prince’s Project yet so I thought I might try and supply some.  In the form, first, of a hydro-electric scheme that is up and running on the edge of the First Children’s Rainforest, which is owned and cared for by Costa Rica’s Monteverde Conservation League – and was largely purchased and preserved by the International Children’s Tropical Forests Network of which CTF UK is a member.

In the October 2000 edition of CTF News, we reported that ‘the Monteverde Conservation League is now receiving payments from the Inman Hydro-electricity Company for supplying the water that will drive Inman’s turbines’.

‘The forest clad 3,000 hectare Esperanza Watershed, part of the Children’s Rainforest,  collects and retains the rainwater that ensures the flow of the Esperanza River is maintained at a steady volume all year round.  In return for MCL’s agreement to conserve and protect the Esperanza forests, Inman agreed to pay for the environmental services which ensure its water supply’.

On October 28th, 1998, MCL and Inman signed a 99-year contract and we can now report that this agreement has been in operation for 10 years.

The touchstone for the contract was a land ownership dispute between MCL and Inman over an area of just half a hectare which was vital for the hydropower project as the dam and water intake were to be built there. The conflict arose because two different official land titles stated that both entities owned the parcel of land (a very common occurrence in Latin America).

But MCL proved to have the better title, Inman needed the surface rights to build their power station – and so a deal was struck with MCL retaining full ownership of the land.

The dam was built on the edge of the Children’s Rainforest and, during the construction period, the electricity company paid 3 dollars for each hectare of the protected watershed each year.  When energy production started this rose to 8 dollars per hectare in the first year, 9 dollars in the second and 10 dollars in the third and fourth year.

From the fifth year, the 10 dollar rate was multiplied by a factor that takes into account both the amount of energy being produced and the sales price per kilowatt, thus reflecting the increasing value of the environmental services provided.

Roge’s international news gathering team (of 1) is now in E-mail contact with MCL and we have received some outline information on the progress of the Project,with more to come in future Blogs.

MCL reports that payments are being received in accordance with the contract formulae and these payments go into their general fund.  ‘Most of the money from Inman goes towards our protection and monitoring program (park guards etc).’

So the money is being used to directly preserve the integrity of the forest on the Esperanza Watershed, which MCL  has contracted to do for Inman, but it is also preserving the magnificent web of wildlife in the forest, providing work for part of MCL’s local workforce and protection and monitoring for the much larger Children’s Eternal Forest.

We hope to have more details soon on just how much the Contract is contributing to MCL’s total administration expenses in preserving all of the 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of the First Children’s Rainforest.

So, here is something very close to the model that the Prince’s Rainforest Project is aiming for – ‘making the rainforests worth more alive than dead’.

Next time on Roge’s blog I go on a personal visit into the rainforest in search of the King of the Canopy, the Harpy Eagle.

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