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Selvatica,  a tropical forest Research Station and Preserve encompassing almost 1000 hectares of land area,  is located in the Province of Sarapiquí­ in the Caribbean foothills of the Central Mountain Range of Costa Rica.   The Research Station and Preserve are bordered on the East by Braulio Carrillo National Park (BCNP),  a spectacular tropical forest conservation area,  which ranges in elevation from about 200 to 2900 meters.   Part of the Preserve actually extends into the Park,  a circumstance that does not concern the Costa Rican National Park Service since Selvatica's principal objective is the conservation of biodiversity.

(From the main administration building one can appreciate the sunrise view of the Sarapiquí lowlands, as well as the fumarole emissions of Turrialba Volcano in the distance.)

Selvatica is owned and operated by Rainforestry, a private not-for-profit organization based in the United States.  Rainforestry is not only active in helping to conserve Costa Rica's biodiversity, but is also involved in tropical forest research and education.  It is Rainforestry's belief that research and education are integrally related to conservation,  and are necessary for the successful management of conservation areas.

In the past, the extensive 20 km trail system that winds through Selvatica has been used by student groups, researchers and tourists.  Student groups from the University of Georgia, as well from the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), occasionally hold courses at the Preserve.  Selvatica's facilities are available to individual researches, as well as to student groups.

Selvatica belongs to the "Red de Reservas",  a Costa Rican organization whose principal objective is the conservation of biodiversity.  The "Red de Reservas" is comprised of members who own,  or represent,  private forested preserves.

Corytophanes cristatus Clusia sp. Dalechampia websteri Dendrobates pumilio

Because over 90 percent of the Preserve is comprised of mature primary forest,  the area offers ample opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves in a rich tropical environment.   And because of Selvatica's location on the Caribbean slope,  at an elevation between 400 and 730 meters, the diversity of wildlife is high,  even for Costa Rica.  Of special note is the extremely high biodiversity of epiphytic flora,  in particular orchids and bromeliads.   The abundance of rainfall,  which is estimated to be between 5 and 7 meters annually,  is one of the contributing factors to the high biodiversity.

The history of Selvatica is quite unique.   From 1963 to 1967 the area was used as a low-security penitentiary,   presumably because the terrain was so rugged that it was very difficult for prisoners to escape.  The first building that was constructed was called "El Plástico" because the first groups of prisoners had to sleep under a plastic roof to keep dry.   Another building,  originally occupied by the prison commander,  still stands today,  and is used as sleeping quarters and as a dining area for visitors.

Links to Pages
Research & Conservation History
Plants & Animals Email Addresses
         Plants       Executive Director-  U.S.   (
           Mammals       Science Director-  U.S.   (
         Frogs and Snakes       Administrator-  Costa Rica   (
         Birds        Resident Ecologist-  Costa Rica   (

Donations to Selvatica should be made to Rainforestry, a not-for-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia.  All donations to Selvatica are U.S. tax-deductable and will be used to help conserve the tropical rainforest.  

Box 13127
Jekyll Island,  Georgia   31527    USA

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