Skip to main content Skip to local navigation

History of Las Nubes captured in stunning photo book

History of Las Nubes captured in stunning photo book

Las Nubes: Conservation in the Cloud Forests of Costa Rica, a new book by two York graduate students, tells the story of the Las Nubes Biological Reserve through stunning photos and accompanying text, from its York beginnings until today.

“Las Nubes is Spanish for ‘the clouds’, and Las Nubes Biological Reserve is a place where the opportunity for discovery is as limitless as the sky,” write its authors, York environmental studies PhD candidate Chris Saker (MES ’09) and Ana Maria Martinez (MES ’10), a PhD candidate in York’s Faculty of Education.

Organic shade-grown coffee beans. All photos by Brett Cole

Las Nubes: Conservation in the Cloud Forests of Costa Rica (Rainforest Editions), available through the York University Bookstore, is dedicated to the memory of the late York environmental studies Professor Howard Daugherty.

Golden-hooded Tanager

“The book is intended to raise awareness of the natural beauty of this ecosystem and the research, teaching and outreach programs conducted at Las Nubes,” says Barbara Rahder, former dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES). “It is also a fundraising project for FES and the Fisher Fund.”

But it is also what Rahder calls “a tribute to the years Professor Howard Daugherty spent developing our educational and research programs at Las Nubes.” Daugherty first conceived of the book as a way of showcasing the program's accomplishments, and the reserve itself, as well as promoting conservation. He spent some two years on the book, hand picking the photos from the thousands that had been taken, and helping to fashion the storyline. After his death, the work was continued by his colleagues, students and friends.

Laughing Falcons

The book contains 200 photographs by nature photographer Brett Cole, of everything colourful, strange and wonderful that thrives and fights for life amid the towering rainforests – from birds, such as the Golden-hooded Tanager and flowers like the Apostle’s Iris, to the Morpho butterfly, a caterpillar dotted with parasites, and spiders and shiny-backed beetles.

Cole was commissioned by FES in 2007 “to capture the fragile, but diverse ecosystem at Las Nubes,” says Rahder. And capture it he did, showing a glimpse of the rich diversity of the 124 hectares of protected rainforest on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca Mountains in southern Costa Rica. It was this piece of rainforest that was donated to York University by Dr. M.M. (Woody) Fisher in 1998.

It’s not only an essential refuge for tropical biodiversity, but a place where students and researchers from York’s FES, as well as other academic institutions, go to learn and conduct research in tropical conservation, sustainable development and biodiversity, while working with local communities.

Apostle's Iris

“Hundreds of our undergraduate and graduate students have been able to do fieldwork at Las Nubes. York is committed to social justice and that is embodied in our fair trade Las Nubes coffee, which is grown by local farmers in shaded coffee farms,” says Rahder.

Orchard spider

All proceeds from the sale of this book go to the Fisher Fund in Neo-Tropical Conservation, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, to support student and faculty research at Las Nubes.

Order single copies through the York University Bookstore or by contacting Steve Glassman, bookstore director, at or ext. 33018.

For more photos, visit the YFile Flickr gallery at the bottom of the YFile home page.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.