Forests of the World
Forests of the World  Products | Forests | How to Buy | About

Forests: Costa Rica

Costa Rica – Origin of our First Products

Our Supplier

The earliest beginnings of Forests of the World, LLC, are tied to a Costa Rican company, Trópica Rainforest Products Company of San Jose, S.A.

Trópica's early history

Trópica was started in 1990 and sold a line of body care products (cosmetics, shampoos, bath oils, etc.) made from essential oils, with manufacturing handled by a small, family-owned soap factory. These products were marketed through distributors in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and the company developed not only a close following of sales personnel and distributors, but also contacts within the Costa Rican conservation and research community.

The products were sold as "green products," where a percentage of the profits were returned to conservation projects in Costa Rica, and the company gave approximately one thousand dollars to the Rara Avis Reserve in 1992. Though Tropica eventually stopped marketing their body care line, Forests of the World still owns the trademark and U.S. rights to the Tropica logo and art.

A colorful new product

At the beginning of 1992, Trópica developed the idea of selling boxes of tropical seeds from local farmers. The idea was to allow consumers to "Grow a Rainforest in Your Living Room." The packaging was unique: the seeds, colorful and varied, were visible in the box. The product was printed and manufactured in Costa Rica at a reasonable price and included The Nature Company as one of its many clients.

These seeds came from two communities in the western mountains of Costa Rica. Five employees acted as liaisons to these communities, purchased the seeds at various times during the year, and hand assembled the seed boxes. The company purchased these seeds from local farmers at a price that well exceeded any other source of revenue, making this project viable and important for sustainable development in the region.

Our first partnership

Forests of the World was established in 1993 to market Trópica's new line of seeds in the US. Actually, there were two product lines: seeds for germination (growing plants), and seed craft products. The product lines were designed for the rapidly growing US market for easy, hands-on kits that teachers, parents and children could enjoy at school or home.

Trópica ran for several years out of an office in Escazu, Costa Rica until the original Costa Rica partners dissolved their partnership in 1996. A year later, Forests of the World acquired the assets of Trópica.

We sold products in Costa Rica through a representative there for several years. Manufacture of our Costa Rica-based products was handled by two different Costa Rican entities.

First, we partnered with Lil Mena, Director of the Center for the Study of Fibers and Papers (CIFIPA - Centro por Investigacion de Fibras y Papeles), a socially and environmentally conscious Costa Rican artist and director of a handicraft and banana paper factory with over 30 employees in San Jose. She manufactured products for sale in Costa Rica and also helped with US-bound goods.

Next, we contracted with Costa Rica's National Psychiatric Hospital to produce the line of products for sale in CR. The Hospital needed a project to provide therapy and revenue for their patients, and we were happy to work with them.

Manufacture today

In 1997, assembly of our Costa Rica products moved to the US. Members of Candles of Hope, a group of financially challenged women living in public housing communities in Durham, N.C., assembled some of our Costa Rican products. This was a local cottage industry, where components were delivered, assembled by Candles of Hope, then finished products were picked up for shipment. This arrangement fit with our mission of supporting local community development projects at home and around the world. Today, educational products that are part of "Forests of Costa Rica" are produced by The Forest Foundation.


Seeds from a variety of plant species are collected by rural farmers and sold in "grow your own rainforest" germination products for tourist markets and ecology kits for teachers.

Many beautiful varieties of seeds are used to create beads which are used for the Jungle Jewelry line of earrings, necklaces, World Unity Bracelets, and the famous Jungle Jewelry Kits.

Other craft products from Forests of Costa Rica include Jungle Jacks, Rock Chalk, and "Tic, Tac, Toe", and previously Painted Rainforest Leaves and Malinche Seed Pod Musical Instruments.

Other Organizations

In conjunction with CIFIPA, Forests of Costa Rica supported the concept of a Regional Crafts Center of Central America, that would provide support to rural artisan and producer groups. Over the years, five percent of gross profit of the FOCR line has been given to the Organization for Tropical Studies, their watershed protection and environmental education programs.

Forests of the World, LLC
1410 Cross St. / Durham, NC 27701
(919) 957-1500 / info @