Bosque de Paz Biological Reserve is a private reserve located on the Caribbean flank of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range of Costa Rica, between two large National Parks (Poás Volcano and Juan Castro Blanco). Since its creation, it has played a vital role as a biological corridor in its 500 ha., which is an important complement to actions, both public and private, to conserve the country’s natural resources.

The González-Sotela family, from Costa Rica, acquired the property in the mid-1980s, dedicating themselves for more than 30 years to the reforestation of old pastures with species of trees and shrubs from the area, and the conservation of existing primary and secondary forests. This property is an important center of biodiversity in Central America, both for animals and plants. For example, within the Reserve people can observe ca. 200 of the 923 species of birds documented for Costa Rica, which is why it is considered a hotspot for bird watching. In addition, orchids are very diverse plants and with a wide representation of their diversity in the Reserve, so much so that in 2004 an orchid garden was created to initiate an inventory of the species of this family of plants.


In the tropical rainforest, the wind and heavy rains cause many branches to break and fall to the ground, carrying many epiphytic plants, among them, orchids. In 2000, a garden was created in Bosque de Paz to relocate those epiphytic orchids that were found fallen on the trails of the Reserve, which survival is limited by the lack of light and high humidity. In 2004, the garden was officially inaugurated with the name “Dr. Stephen H. Kirby Orchid Garden”, in honor of the great enthusiasm of this American geology doctor and recognition of his important contribution to the project, both intellectual and economic. His insight into the research, conservation and ecotourism potential of Bosque de Paz in the orchid field has been a huge boost to the project.

During the first years since 2004, Melania Muñoz was in charge of collecting, describing, documenting, and identifying the species of the Garden, to have knowledge of which species are living in the area and to project to the visitors the great diversity of orchids that exist at Bosque de Paz Biological Reserve. After Melania, also Adam P. Karremans, Christina M. Smith, Melissa Díaz Morales, and Noelia Belfort Oconitrillo have worked in charge of the project, the latter in charge of the project since 2016. In this way, and thanks to the invaluable collaboration of Dr. Stephen Kirby and the González-Sotela family, an uninterrupted long-term orchid survey and data collection have been maintained, with the creation of the herbarium and flower spirit collection for each orchid species, detailed descriptions of all the species, high- quality photographs and scans of whole and dissected flowers, pollinaria images, photographs and scans of the capsules, and recording of pollination events. Around 2011 arose the necessity to make the information generated through the Orchid Conservation Project more accessible to a wider audience, that is how Orchid Flora was born.

Currently, the list of orchids in the Reserve amounts to ca. 230 species of which three have been described as new to science, thus contributing to the increase of species diversity for the flora of Costa Rica. However, constant study of certain species complexes, within genera such as Stelis and Pleurothallis (subtribe Pleurothallidinae) and Epidendrum (subtribe Laeliinae) could result in newer records for the Reserve, as well as other species new to science.

The Orchid Conservation Project has three pillars: conservation, research and education.


The Bosque de Paz Biological Reserve is considered a key site for the conservation of orchids in situ, since, in 500 ha of land, it offers a large area, little fragmented, with a modest human impact and with several micro-habitats that support the existence, reproduction, dispersal and other natural biological processes of a significant number of orchids. Many naturalists and orchid enthusiasts are attracted by this project and the wide diversity of tropical species that can be observed in situ, especially by the diversity of miniature orchids (Pleurothallidinae) of a beauty that defies the imagination, since they can be really small, some even measure a few millimeters.

The Bosque de Paz Reserve and its Orchid Conservation Project are in the sights of the international scientific community, due to the important conservation and research work it carries out. In 2007 it was visited by an important group of researchers who attended the III International Orchid Conservation Congress, based in Costa Rica


In addition to the list of species and the monthly phenology check of the orchids (flowering and fruiting) that has been carried out since 2004, there are research initiatives that are carried out in parallel, among which are pollination observations in situ and studies of reproductive success of the various species, among other ecological studies carried out in the Orchid Garden and the Reserve

On the other hand, this project has turned out to be a platform for the professional development of the people who have worked in charge of the Orchid Conservation Project and have taken their first professional steps in orchidology and field biology. In addition, the González-Pinto family has opened the doors of the Reserve to students from the University of Costa Rica and the National University of Costa Rica who developed or are currently developing Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. thesis, with the opportunity of making in situ observations in the Reserve, thus favoring other future professionals and contributing to the educational sector that conducts research.

Many researchers from the Lankester Botanical Garden and the School of Biology, both from the University of Costa Rica, have actively collaborated in the various investigations of the Orchid Conservation Project, being important allies in the research carried out here.

The advances of the research projects carried out in Bosque de Paz have been presented at, at least, five renowned international conferences: 3rd International Conference on Orchid Conservation (San José, 2007), 22nd World Orchid Conference (Guayaquil, 2017), V Scientific Conference on Andean Orchids (Cali, 2015) and VI Scientific Conference on Andean Orchids (Medellín, 2019).


Historically, through the project, environmental education talks, and workshops have been offered to students of the Bajos del Toro School. In addition, guided tours are offered to visitors and guests of the Ecolodge, to raise awareness about the importance of the project and the conservation of diversity in general.

Visitors to the Reserve can do the Orchid Tour, which lasts approximately 1.5 hours. In this tour you can appreciate the diversity of sizes, shapes and colors of the orchids of the Reserve. Visitors learn about the biology and ecology of orchids, conservation, the projects that are carried out, they also visit the herbarium and they can even see some miniature flowers under the stereoscope.

Special emphasis is placed on the importance of biodiversity conservation. This experience changes the life and point of view of many visitors, in the way they discover the wonderful diversity that orchids present, the risks to their populations and the importance of natural habitat conservation.