Forests in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has almost 5% of all the animals and plants in the whole world. In such little territory, there’s a lot of protected areas, including the vast variety of forests.
The geographic position, weather, topography and geologic time among others make the country’s vegetation diverse. So professionals had to come up with different ways to sort out the types of forests in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is divided in 5 climatic regions by the mountain systems:
- North Pacific or Dry: Northwest part of the country. Bordering the Pacific Ocean and the Guanacaste´s volcanic mountain range. Average annual rainfall of 2000mm and average temperature is 27ºC.
- South Pacific or Humid: Southwest part of the country. Bordering the Pacific Ocean and the Talamanca´s mountain range. Composed by the coastal zone, to the west of the Coastal or Brunka´s mountain range. Average annual rainfall of 3450mm in the valley and south, in the coastal strip more than 5000mm and average temperature is 26ºC.
- Central Valley: Bordering the Central mountain range, Talaman
ca´s foothills and the San Miguel hills. Average annual rainfall of 2400mm and average temperature is 20ºC.
- North Slope: Bordering the Guanacaste´s, Central´s and Caribbean mountain ranges and the political border with Nicaragua. Average annual rainfall of 4300mm and average temperature is 22ºC.
- Caribbean or Atlantic Zone: Bordering the mountain ranges from the Colorado river to the political border with Panama. Average annual rainfall of 4000mm and average temperature is 22ºC.
According to these weathers, the 12 principal kind of forests through the country are:
- Tropical Dry Forest: Average annual rainfall is 800-2100mm. Tempisque river´s valley, Guanacaste. Rain period from november to may but it doesn’t rain much. You can see a lot of trees with flowers during those months. The vegetation of this place is called Curatella Americana, natural fires and infertile soils are common. You can visit the Palo Verde and the Santa Rosa National Parks or the Experimental Forestal Station Horizontes.
- Tropical Humid Forest: 283213 hectares. Average annual rainfall is 1800-4000mm. Dry season from 0 to 5 months per year. Located in Upala, San Carlos and some high parts in the Nicoya Peninsula. more than 150 species can be found in these forests.
- Tropical Very Humid Forest: 539391 hectares. Average annual rainfall is 4000-6000mm. It doesn’t have an established dry season; they have some periods with less rain, though. Located in the plains of the country like San Carlos, Sarapiqui and Tortuguero. South Atlantic and South Pacific zones. You can find trees up to 50 meters.
- Premontane Humid Forest: Average annual rainfall is 1200-2200mm. Dry season from 3.5 to 5 months. A lot of volcanic soil areas where the original forests have disappeared like the Central Valley.
- Premontane Very Humid Forest: 372742 hectares. Average annual rainfall is 2000-4000mm. Extended through the mountain ranges.
- Premontane Pluvial Forest: 289400 hectares. Average annual rainfall is more than 4000mm, reaching 7000mm in some places. Located in the Talamanca, Central Volcanic and Tilaran mountain ranges. With evergreen species and high diversity of epiphytes.
- Lower Montane Humid Forest: Average annual rainfall is 1400-2000mm. Dry season 2-4 months. Located in Zarcero and Ochomogo. Vegetation is made of a lot of evergreen bushes and epiphytes species.
- Lower Montane Very Humid Forest: Average annual rainfall is 1850-4000mm. Covered most of the time by fog. Called Cloudy Forest as well. Located in the Talamanca mountain range, like the Muerte hill forest. It has a lot of tall trees and species of epiphytes.
- Lower Montane Pluvial Forest: 301974 hectares. Average annual rainfall is more than 8000mm. Dry season lasts no longer than 3 months. Located in the Talamanca and some parts of the Central mountain ranges.
- Montane Very Humid Forest: Average annual rainfall is 1800-2300mm. Only presented in the Irazu volcano.
- Montane Pluvial Forest: Average annual rainfall is 2200-4500mm. Located in the Talamanca mountain range and the Irazu volcano.
- Subalpine Pluvial Paramo: Average annual rainfall is 1800-2300mm. Dry season of 2 months. Vegetation is short.
Besides those, there are 46 macro types of forests in Costa Rica.
We highly recommend you to visit as many different forests as you can because each one offers different kinds of species of vegetation and animals with wonderful experiences.