Cloud Forests of Boquete, Panama

Blog by Debra Harwood

Cloudforest at around 1,600m in Macaya Biosphere Reserve on the Massif de la Hotte, Haiti

Here in Boquete we are fortunate to have some incredible cloud forests where you can spend hours hiking in what truly is a beautiful and breathe taking place on our planet. A cloud forest, also called a fog forest, is a generally tropical or subtropical, moist forest characterized by a persistent, frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover, usually at the canopy level. Cloud forests often exhibit an abundance of mosses covering the ground and vegetation, and why some people call them a mossy forests. Cloud forests usually develop on the saddles of mountains, where moisture introduced by settling clouds is more effectively retained.
Typically, there is a relatively small band of altitude (500m – 4000m) in which the environment is suitable for cloud forest development. This is characterized by persistent fog at the vegetation level, resulting in the reduction of direct sunlight.  Within cloud forests, much of the moisture available to plants arrives in the form of fog drip where fog condenses on tree leaves and then drips onto the ground below.

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Cloud forest are extremely important in our world. They are very delicate and dependent on local climates and are strongly affected by global climate change. Results show that the extent of environmentally suitable areas for cloud forest in Mexico will sharply decline in the next 70 years and would lead to extinction of up to 37 vertebrates specific to that region. In addition, climate changes can result in a higher amount of hurricanes, which may increase damage to tropical mountain cloud forests. So the results of climate change will be a loss in biodiversity, altitude shifts in species ranges and community reshuffling, and, in some areas, complete loss of cloud forests. In 2004, an estimated one-third of all cloud forests on the planet were protected which shows that we realize their importance and I do hope that as of 2016 we are protecting well over one-half.
These rare ecosystems are valuable for their beauty and biodiversity conservation, but they also have value to those living around them. They maintain water cycles, provide food sources, and are often attractive centers of tourism and because of that provide many people with their livelihoods.
Important areas of cloud forest are in Central and South America, East and Central Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua-New Guinea, and in the Caribbean.

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If you have never experienced a cloud forest please make sure that while you are here in Boquete you take advantage of Mother Nature’s beautiful gift. So pack a light lunch, your camera, rain jacket and take your time and just breathe in the sights and sounds.  I make sure I am out hiking several times a week and I never get tired spending time in the cloud forests here.
Here at Casa de Montana we would be happy to assist you in setting up hikes depending on your hiking level during your stay with us. Nobody should miss out on this great experience!!!

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