The RegionThe Center is connected south-westerly to the Children Eternal Rainforest and Monteverde Conservation Area, both reserves encompassing more than 50,000 hectares (110,000 acres) of forest land. The Zona Protectora Arenal-Monteverde extends down to the Center through a forest corridor that descends in elevation from 1,800 meters at Monteverde to 450 meters above sea level at the Center. This complex reserve has four major tropical life zones and includes more than 3,000 species of vascular plants. The fauna is similarly diverse. More than 400 species of resident and migratory birds have been sighted in the reserve, representing almost half of Costa Rica's bird species.
The WatershedAt the local level, the Center is located in the heart of the Peñas Blancas River Watershed. This watershed, with more than 40,000 hectares (Table 1), has 56% of its lands covered with rain forests, found mostly in the highlands, from 500 to 1800 masl. Pastures with scattered trees and woody species account for 20% of the land use in the middle and lower elevations of the watershed, followed by agricultural crops (13%) dominated by cassava, sugar cane and plantain. Other important crops, including ornamental plants, pineapple, papaya and oranges, make up to 2.5% of the lands. Scattered all over the watershed subsistence agriculture is practiced by local farmers. Beyond the Center, primarily in the town of La Fortuna, the economy depends on eco-tourism due to proximity of the Arenal Volcano and the Lake.
Regional Land use (in hectares) for the Rio Peñas Blancas Watershed.