Eco Rating Mount Totumas

Name of property Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Preserve
Person completing this form Jeffrey M Dietrich
Position Owner
Address of property c/o Dietrichs
181 34th Ave E
Seattle, Wa. 98112
Country Panama
Phone number including country code and area code 1-206 352 3844  (USA)
Web site Mount Totumas
E-mail Jeff@mounttotumas.com
Type of property 400 acres of old growth, second growth and pasturelands
Number of rooms or cottages One three bed room house.
Maximum number of guests 8 (with two sleeping in pull out mats in living room)
Eco memberships
Eco ratings, certifications, awards Eco Rating from Eco Tropical Resorts: 4.4 out of 5.
  • Do you have a written environmental or social sustainability policy?     No

If yes, please attach.

  • Do you have a written environmental management system?                  No

If yes, please attach.

  • Describe the property – aim, size, facilities, amount of land owned and leased  (150 words max)

Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Preserve is 400 acres bordering La Amistad National Park. The land consists of a mosaic of pastures, second growth and old growth cloud forest habitat.  There is one home on the property available for rent with  three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We are off the grid with our own electricity powered by a micro hydro generator.  A second building houses our caretaker and his family. Horse back riding is available for up to two people at a time. Nature trails on the Preserve and nearby La Amistad offer unparalleled access to virgin old growth cloud forest.  The elevation on the property ranges from 1500 to 2000 meters. Mount Totumas towers above the property at 2624 meters. Our goal is to preserve this land, reforest some of the pastures and eventually build up to 5 cabins that will be available to rent. In addition we plan on growing organic high elevation premium coffee on about 5 hectares and expand the existing organic garden so that it can eventually feed the staff and guests. Some pastures will be preserved to provide for stunning views of the national park. A small herd of a race of Swiss Brown cattle provide a small income as well as keep the pastures cleared. Milk, Yoghurt and cheese will eventually be produced locally on site. The site will be available to Universities and research stations for biodiversity studies.

  • Describe the location, including distance to nearest town and size of town (100 words max)

Mount Totumas Cloud Forest is located only 7 kilometers from the Costa Rican border in western Panama in the province of Chiriqui. The area is sparsely populated, rural with mountains and volcanoes. We are  located 20km from Volcan, a town with a population of around 20,000.  From Volcan you travel 10km on a paved surface and then 10km on a 4WD mountain road up to Los Pozos Hot Springs and  the entrance of Mount Totumas Cloud Forest. We are off the grid and the road is challenging but the reward is  when you arrive you are in an isolated wilderness surrounded by an immense National Park. The isolation and unplugged setting is inspiring. Wildlife is abundant on the property and adjacent park. The habitat on the property is upper montane rainforest, cloud forest and on the peak of Mount Totumas an oak bamboo forest. The closest airport is in David.

  • Describe WHY you made the decision to develop an eco resort (100 word max)

We purchased the property in 2008. As a naturalist with over 15 years working in Latin America the owner Jeffrey Dietrich established a goal over 10 years ago to one day purchase land in the New World Tropics at a mid elevation level bordering a national park. Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Preserve fulfilled the criteria and in fact exceeded our expectations with the ecological integrity of the site.  Mount Totumas represents a refuge for the owners and a creative opportunity to put into place a low impact sustainable infrastructure that will be open to the public. The site will be kept rustic, the structures will be of a rustic but comfortable design and we will only allow the site to develop within strict limits of insuring that the ambience of an isolated wilderness is preserved.

Introduction to the Butterfly Club’s Eco Rating

The Butterfly Club Eco Rating has five equally-weighted categories:

  • Energy;
  • Water;
  • Recycling and waste;
  • Land and nature conservation; and
  • Community.

Each category has five levels, designated by one to five butterflies.  Through self assessment, resort operators completing this rating will determine their own levels within each category based on their responses to items listed below.

Two categories – energy and water – have similar rating systems with Levels 1 and 2 addressing conservation of existing resources, and Levels 3, 4 and 5 addressing creation of renewable energy or capturing water.

Level five in every category also requires written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record consumption; (2) test and apply additional conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific targets.   We require a copy of your policies if you achieve level 5 in any category.

Eco Rating Mount Totumas Energy

Levels 1 and 2 – conservation: Check all that apply:

_x    use natural air circulation and fans, not air conditioners
_x_  use natural light during the day
_x_  minimize use of fossil-fuel powered vehicles, machines and equipment
___  use “on demand” or solar heating for hot water
_x_  air dry clothes/linens
_x_  wash dishes by hand
_x_  use energy efficient appliances and electronics
___  use low wattage fluorescent light bulbs
_x_  change linens, tablecloths, napkins upon request
_x_  switch off lights when not used
Other energy conservation activities? Please list:

Level 1 = four or fewer energy conservation activities

Level 2 = five or more energy conservation activities

Levels 3, 4 and 5 – renewable energy: Indicate proportion (%) of energy from each source:

___  solar
___  wind
100%  hydro
___  generator
___  public utility
Other energy sources? Please list:

100% TOTAL
We have a micro hydro generator that produces 100% of our electricity. We are off the grid.  The generator is made by Canyon Industries in Bellingham Washington. 600 feet of 8 inch PVC pipe leads to the Pelten Wheel that is attached to a generator. We have a constant supply of 6 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power the house and future cabins. It is a flow through system so the ecology of the perennial stream that supplies the water remains viable and pristine.

Level 3 = renewable energy is employed and is less than 1/3 of all energy

Level 4 = renewable energy constitutes 1/3 – 2/3 of all energy

Level 5 = renewable energy constitutes 2/3 or more of all energy.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record energy consumption; (2) test and apply additional energy conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific energy targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Energy Level 5 (required).

Your Energy Level (select 1 – 5) =   5

Eco Rating Mount Totumas Water

Levels 1 and 2 – conservation: Check all that apply:

x_  low flow faucets and showerheads
x_  low water use toilets
x_  change linens, towels, tablecloths, and napkins upon request
x__use table mats that can be wiped and not laundered
x_  use biodegradable laundry detergent, dish soap and hand soap
n/a__  treat swimming pool with chlorine-free processes
Other water conservation activities?  Please list.
Tutumas in the Guayme Indian language means a water container made of a gourd. Mount Totumas has abundant sources of water and on Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Preserve there are three perennial streams. Water is abundant on the site.  The small herd of cattle we have on the preserve are separated with fencing from all the riparian zones on the property to prevent pollution and trampling of the fragile habitat.

Level 1 = three or fewer water conservation activities

Level 2 = four or more water conservation activities

Levels 3, 4 and 5 – capture and treat fresh water and manage waste water. Capture water: Indicate proportion (%) of water from each source:

___  spring
_100%  river
___  rain
___  reuse gray
___  public utility
Other water sources? Please list.

100% TOTAL

Fresh water treatment: how is captured fresh water treated?
___  naturally.  Indicate method: charcoal, ultraviolet light, other? List:
___  chemically.  List chemicals used:

Waste water management:
__x  septic tanks
___  cesspools
___  other? List methods:

Level 3: Water is captured (from springs, rivers, rain or prior use) and constitutes less than 1/3 of water from all sources.  Water is treated chemically.  Water disposal does not minimize damage to coral reefs and rain forests

Level 4:  Captured water constitutes 1/3 to 2/3 of all water.  Water is treated naturally. Water disposal minimizes damage to coral reefs and rain forests

Level 5:  Captured water constitutes more than 2/3 of all water.  Water is treated naturally. Water disposal minimizes damage to coral reefs and rain forests.   In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record water consumption; (2) test and apply additional water conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific water targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Water Level 5 (required).

Your Water Level (select 1 – 5):   5

Eco Rating Mount Totumas Recycling and waste

Check all that apply:

_x_   use durable service items, e.g. cups, glasses, dishes, tableware, storage items
_x_   buy fresh and local to reduce packaging and emissions from transportation
x_   purchase in bulk to reduce packaging
x__   recycle paper, glass, plastic, aluminium
___   minimize emissions from fossil-fuel powered vehicles, machines & equipment
x__   zero waste in the kitchen
x__   serve local water, not bottled water
x__   cleaning products are biodegradable
x__   compost organic matter
Other methods to recycle waste? Please list.

Level 1 = four or fewer recycling activities

Level 2 = five recycling activities

Level 3 = six recycling activities

Level 4 = seven recycling activities

Level 5 = eight or more recycling activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record recycling and waste; (2) test and apply additional recycling and waste conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific recycling and waste targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Recycling and Waste Level 5 (required).

Your Recycling and Waste Level (select 1 – 5):   4 

Eco Rating Mount Totumas Land and nature conservation

Check all that apply:

_x_   minimize tree removal when building
_x_   use only botanical (plant-based) herbicides & pesticides in garden & grounds
_x_   maintain organic gardens as food source for resort
_x_   use biodegradable cleaning products
_x_   minimize external illumination
___   take additional specific actions to preserve the local habitat.  Please list actions and projects:  Landscaping is done with native plants. We are reforesting 15% of the pastured land on the property. We are preserving over 98% of the property as a critical buffer zone to the adjacent La Amistad National Park. Preserving the forests on our property allows altitudinal migrant birds like the Resplendent Quetzal, Three Wattled Bellbird and several species of hummingbirds a corridor to lower elevations.

Level 1: one or two land and nature conservation activities

Level 2: three land and nature conservation activities

Level 3: four land and nature conservation activities

Level 4: five land and nature conservation activities

Level 5: six or more land and nature conservation activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record land and nature conservation activities; (2) test and apply additional land and nature conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific land and nature conservation targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Land and Nature Conservation Level 5 (required).

Your Land and Nature Conservation Level (select 1 – 5):  5

Eco Rating Mount Totumas Community

This category addresses policies and activities regarding staff, guests, suppliers and other members of the community.

Check all activities that apply:

_x__  hire staff residing near the resort         100% local nationals
_x__  use local suppliers                                75 % purchased goods produced locally
_x__  re-invest resort income locally             80 % income re-invested locally
_x__  pay above local prevailing wage
_x__  pay into local social security
___  provide health insurance or coverage
_x__  use regular staff meetings to educate staff about sustainable processes throughout the resort, in the garden, with waste disposal, etc
___  provide educational awareness programs for staff, guests, suppliers and other members of the local community
___  provide sustainable transport to work for staff
___  take additional specific actions to support the local community. Please list actions and projects.
___  Have enrolled your staff in any personal green training/certification schemes such as ecohelpline.com green leaf certification.

Level 1: one or two community activities

Level 2: three to five community activities

Level 3: six to seven community activities

Level 4: eight to nine community activities

Level 5: ten or more community activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record community activities; (2) test and apply additional methods to support the community; and (3) work towards specific community targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Community Level 5 (required).

Your Community Level (select 1 – 5):  3

YOUR OVERALL ECO SCORE (add your level for each category and divide by 5and enter the result with the decimal point, e.g. 3.6):   4.4 

We have three final questions which are not part of the eco rating: 

  • Please describe your single most important eco achievement:

Michael Dietrich, partner and 50% owner of Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Preserve  became deeply engaged in the saving of Long Island, a natural barrier island on the coast of South Carolina. Through developing a website and drawing attention to the planned urban sprawl, he was able to stop it.

  • Indicate additional sustainable practices that you plan to institute within the next 6 months.

We plan to join the Association of Organic Farmers in Cerra Punta in order to learn local solutions and suppliers of raw materials for organic gardening as well as learn from local experts on what varieties of fruits and vegetables can be grown chemical free at our site.
Universities and Research Institutes have been contacted and invited to visit our site as we will make Mount Totumas Cloud Forest Preserve available for biodiversity research stations interested in doing long term studies in cloud forest habitat
We are currently working with Clemente Vega, a coffee consultant who graduated from Earth Institute in Costa Rica in sustainable agriculture. Clemente will help us set up in 2010 a site for growing shade grown organic coffee that will conserve habitat for song birds.

  • Is there anything else you would like to add to this eco rating?

We are at the beginning of a creative process that we are intentionally allowing to develop in a slow organic process as we integrate with the local community and connect to the ecology of the site.