image of Alvaro Ugalde climbing hill

Alvaro Ugalde

Alvaro Ugalde is widely recognized as one of the fathers of Costa Rica’s system of national parks and protected areas. He dedicated 45 years of his life to conservation work in Costa Rica, including serving as the founding executive director of Nectandra Institute until his retirement and president of our board of directors until passing away in February 2015, one day before his 69th birthday.

Other than “national parks”, one of the things that Alvaro said the most was “thank you.” It did not matter if it was in response to a small gesture or a large one, something trivial or something important, Alvaro did not hold back on expressing his appreciation. This characteristic helped endear him to so many.

Alvaro’s appreciative and humble nature is a common theme in many of the anecdotes and reflections shared by his family and friends. Inspirational, passionate, charismatic, sincere, “a soldier for conservation”, “a born leader”, “extremely playful, mercurial”, and courageous are only some of words used to describe him. These, together with many of his own words and images, are gathered in this special section of Nectandra Institute’s website dedicated to such special person.

In his closing days, Alvaro expressed being at peace with his life’s work, saying that he could die happily knowing he had done everything in his power to defend nature. He believed the rest of us also had the right to similarly conclude our lives: happily and without regrets. To earn this right, however, Alvaro urged each of us to do our part to fight to protect the natural wealth and beauty of this Planet. Our hope is that this glimpse into Alvaro will not only help preserve and honor his memory, but also serve to teach and inspire many to continue this good fight.

image of Alvaro Ugalde by a waterfall