Conservation Pioneers

old photo of Nicholas Wessburg & Karen Mogensen

Nicolas and Karen’s History

Guided by a dream, Nicolas Wessberg and Karen Morgensen left their birth countries of Sweden and Denmark in 1954 and arrived in Montezuma after living in several countries in America looking for the place they dreamt of. In 1963, they developed the first protected area in Costa Rica, establishing the Cabo Blanco Natural Reserve. Raising the first $ 30,000 needed to purchase the land took the Wessbers three years, with the support of environmental organizations from Sweden and Denmark. Because Doña Karen Olsen de Figueres, wife of former President Don Pepe Figueres, and Karen Mogensen were both born in Denmark, they established a great friendship and this resulted in the partial funding of the beginnings in environmental conservation.

Some felt their economic interests were threatened by the conservation actions and this is why Don Nicolas met his death in 1975, during the initial land purchase for the creation of the Corcovado National Park. His assailant has never been found.

Doña Karen’s economic situation was very precarious even though a lot of money was channeled through her management to support the Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve.

She converted her little house in the center of Montezuma into a place of lodging. She rented her two rooms while she slept on a bench in the back of the house in the storage area because the Local Government began to charge her hundreds of thousands of colones for her farm.

Before Karen died in 1994, she put all her efforts to leave the farm that they called home as a heritage of absolute conservation, in the hands of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE). The Nicolas Wessberg Absolute Natural Reserve was established in his honor after becoming one of the first martyrs in nature protection. Her life legacy was to make sure that the extraordinary richness of the biodiversity that is enclosed there was not disturbed.

Karen’s dream, in 1963, is today a wonderful reality that provides Costa Rica with invaluable natural wealth and also a source of economic resources.

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