Raising a glass to help Las Nubes Rainforest


(Above: York President Lorna R. Marsden and Ambassador Carlos Miranda)

The following account was sent to YFile by Cim Nunn, director of media relations.

(Left: Dr. Woody Fisher, second from left, with FES masters students who did field research at Las Nubes, left to right, Sandra Znajda, Susan Hall and Dean T. Young)

More than 100 York University friends, supporters and collectors of rare wines gathered at Toronto’s Vaughan Estate last month for the second annual fine wine tasting and auction to raise funds for research and conservation projects at York’s Las Nubes Rainforest in Costa Rica. The auction raised more than $50,000 for Las Nubes projects.

(Right: Prof. Howard Daugherty, centre, with Molson Foundation Board members Ian McKinnon, left, and Robert Eldridge)

“The evening was great fun and brought together wine connoisseurs with a keen interest in supporting conservation,” said Prof. Howard Daugherty, director of The Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation in the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES). “Our first two wine auctions have enabled us to surpass our fundraising goal for the construction of a community environmental centre to be built at Las Nubes.”

(Left: A few of the guests, left to right, Margaret Carr-Harris, Margie McCallum, Marlo Finlayson and Lori Sinns)

Sponsored by the Fisher Fund, the evening began with a reception featuring the champagne of Pol Roger. This was followed by a horizontal tasting of seven wines of the 1983 Bordeaux that included Chateau Margeaux and Chateau Palmer, considered the best of the vintage. National Post wine columnist Michael Vaughan provided commentary for the tasting.

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden hosted the evening. Costa Rica’s Ambassador to Canada, His Excellency Carlos Miranda, praised the research of more than a dozen FES graduate students who have done field work in the Las Nubes region. Both Marsden and Miranda noted the generosity of Dr. Woody Fisher, whose gift of the Las Nubes Rainforest to York five years ago initiated an innovative approach to private and public sector funding for conservation in the tropics.

(Left: Auctioneer Hal Hannaford)

Following dinner, auctioneer Hal Hannaford, headmaster of Royal St. George College, handled the sale of 57 lots of rare wines from France, Italy, California and Canada. The wines included a 1964 Chateau Petrus that sold for $2,000 and a magnum of 1959 La Tache Domaine de la Romanee Conti that sold for $3,000.

The Woody Fisher Fund was created when Dr. M.M. “Woody” Fisher donated the Las Nubes forest to York University in 1998. To date, this fund has helped support the field research of FES graduate students at the project site in southern Costa Rica.

Las Nubes, this one-time threatened, montane cloud forest adjacent to Chirripó National Park and the Amistad Biosphere Reserve is now part of the largest, undisturbed rainforest in Central America. The research at Las Nubes conducted by FES faculty and graduate students has also been supported by the Canadian International Development Agency and the International Development Research Centre.

This research is helping to maintain the biodiversity of forest habitats that are essential to the survival of many migratory songbirds that summer in Canada. It has also helped to raise public awareness about the value of shade-grown, organic coffee as an ecologically sound alternative to deforestation of critical ecosystems in Latin America.