In 1984, during the course of running a birding program in Costa Rica, Giovanna Holbrook came across a large forested property in the Sarapiqui region that was in danger of being timbered. The owners wished to sell the 500 acres of mostly old growth forest and had already begun cutting some of the trees for lumber. When Giovanna saw a 900-year-old tree lying on the ground, she realized that appreciating nature and sharing its wonders with others was no longer enough—she also had to play a part in protecting and caring for it.
It took almost one year to raise the money, but by 1985 Giovanna was able to return to Costa Rica and buy the land. The once endangered forest became a private rainforest reserve and one of the country’s first eco-lodges, the Selva Verde Lodge and Rainforest Reserve. Selva Verde now plays an important role in the San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor and the greater Mesoamerican Biological Corridor initiative, a proposal to create a corridor of protected habitats extending from Mexico and Belize all the way to Panama.