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Villa Mills Forestry Producers Association  (ASOPROFOR)

Apartado 7170 CATIEPhoto by Melissa Krenke
        Turrialba, Costa Rica
Phone number:
Executive director:
Marvin Mena
Year founded:
Mission statement:
Create alternatives for the generation of economic resources, that would contribute to family sustenance and women's independence, while developing these alternatives in harmony with the natural resources.
Annual budget: US $ 3,000

Major donors:

  1. CATIE (Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza), Costa Rica
  2. Cooperación Suiza para el Desarrollo (COSUDE)
  3. Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía (MINAE), Costa Rica
  • Contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, water, air quality, and scenic beauty of the protected wildlands of the Macizo de la Muerte region of Costa Rica.
  • Promote the value of the highland forests as strategic providers of environmental services.
  • Alert ecotourists about the issues of man-nature relationships in mountainous zones and their implications for the people of the lowlands, using environmental animation techniques.
  • Locally promote an economic activity led by the people that will help improve their quality of life, taking advantage of a segment of the tourism demand that has not yet been covered and strengthen an economic activity compatible with the conservation of nature.
  • Contribute to increasing the people's knowledge about man-nature relationships and their importance in maintaining environmental equilibrium with emphasis on highland mountain zones.
  • Contribute to the strengthening and independence of organized woman, facilitating access to economic resources, expanding employment and training opportunities.
  • Implement an innovative alternative for raising environmental awareness.
Description of the area where organization works:

Macizo de la Muerte is a mountainous area above 1800 meters elevation that safeguards one of the most extensive natural and semi-natural areas of the nation. There are many microclimates and, thanks to this, it is a region rich in biodiversity. It houses endemic and endangered plant and animal species, in very reduced populations. It is a complex, region, susceptible to human disturbance and slow to recover. It protects important resources of public interest fulfilling an essential role in air quality maintenance and the availability and quality of fresh water.

The region is subjected to strong prevention and conservation pressures, which enormously restricts the production options of the people.


Number of members: 14 affiliates, 9 women and 5 men


  1. Production and Commercialization of Vegetal Charcoal from Trees Dead of Natural Causes or from Sustainability Managed Forests

    Summary: Between 1993 and 1997, ASOPROFOR developed a production and commercialization system of vegetal charcoal in the Villa Mills, Piedra Alta, and Alto del Jaular communities of Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica.  The project was executed by producers, packers, and a local transporter who were seeking to commercialize charcoal produced in harmony with nature, using wood dead from natural causes or from sustainably managed forests. Traditional charcoal production techniques were investigated and improved techniques were proposed, gradually eliminating the outside intermediary who paid very low prices and had income significantly higher than the producers. It also created part-time employment possibilities for women, who traditionally lacked job opportunities until then.
  2. Sale of services to Scientific and Educational Tourism in the Villa Mills-Siberia Research and Demonstration Area

    Summary: In a search for new production alternatives in 1998, a strategic alliance emerged between the Proyecto Silviculura de Bosques Naturales (PROSIBONA-Natural Forest Silvicultural Project) of the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE-Research and Training Center for Tropical Agronomy) / Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE) and the Asociación de Productores Forestales de Villa Mills ( ASOPROFOR—Villa Mills Forestry Producers Association) for involvement in the sale of services to scientific and educational tourism (food, lodging, sanitation, talks, and guides) in the Área de Investigación y Demostración Villa Mills-Siberia (AID-VMS—Villa Mills-Siberia Research and Demonstration Area), Macizo de la Muerte, Costa Rica. Lodging, talks, and technical guide services were facilitated by the Project and food, sanitation, and local guide services were provided by ASOPROFOR.
  3. Villa Mills Environmental Animation Center

    Summary: Environmental animation is an activity that helps increase biological knowledge through experiential recreational activities in nature taking advantage of its various facets. A center for this purpose will be put into operation in Villa Mills, Peréz Zeledón that will be financially sustainable thanks to the sale of services to nature-based tourism. These services include lodging, food, laundry, guiding, and others.  This activity offers tourists the opportunity to come into contact with nature and increase the possibilities that they will become involved in the issues related to natural resource conservation and very particularly with those related to highland ecosystems. For the inhabitants of the place, it helps complement their experiential knowledge with more technical information, gradually increasing their knowledge about man-nature relationships and their importance to maintaining ecosystem equilibrium. Additionally, it helps increase family income, particularly for women, in a productive activity that is compatible with nature conservation.

Principal accomplishments:
  • Acquisition of land, of approximately one hectare, where the Villa Mills Environmental Animation Center is being built.
  • Nine years of experience in different productive activities related to the natural resources of the region.
  • Establishment of important contacts with teaching and training institutions that identify with the organization.
  • The women now have a partial employment alternative that allows them some economic independence.
  • We have developed food service sales, local guiding, clean-up, and tourism for research and teaching in the Villa Mills-Siberia Research and Demonstration Area, Costa Rica.
  • An increase in awareness about the importance of conserving the environment is evident in the affiliates.

We promote the support of volunteer researchers on environmental, socio-economic and artisan subjects. Lodging costs $8/night, but a discount can be negotiated if the stay is for a long period.

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