Welcome to the Rivers and Forests Alliance (RAFA)!

The Rivers and Forests Alliance (RAFA) is a Costa Rican nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting, and regenerating Costa Rica’s Pacuare River Basin, its forests, and biodiversity together with our communities for a sustainable future.

This iconic river flows from high in Costa Rica’s Talamanca Mountains, past indigenous Cabecar communities, and through dense jungle populated with endangered species, traveling 85 miles to the Caribbean Sea. The Pacuare River Basin forms a crucial connection in the network of biological corridors between national parks and private protected areas, namely the Jaguar Corridor. It is one of Costa Rica’s most acclaimed rivers for its scenic beauty and whitewater paddling sports.

Thanks largely to Rafael “Rafa” Gallo, a leading conservationist, environmental activist, and adventure and ecotourism pioneer in Costa Rica, the Pacuare River still flows free. Rafa passionately worked to preserve and regenerate the Pacuare River Basin for nearly four decades with his family, friends, and staff of his award-winning rafting and adventure travel company Rios Tropicales.

From stopping dams to planting close to 31,000 trees to rallying travel clients and community members to save the river and rainforest, Rafa and his followers ardently fought to protect the Pacuare watershed and other rivers in Costa Rica. He advocated for the river's permanent protection, purchased nearly 2,500 acres of pristine rainforest and deforested pastureland to protect it from illegal logging and hunting, and regenerated the region's biodiversity with reforestation campaigns.

Rafa passed away in March 2021 after a 14-month-long battle with cancer. In his final months, he outlined his conservation dreams of environmental stewardship and protecting his beloved Pacuare River Basin. His vision became RAFA – the Rivers and Forests Alliance. He planted the seed, and his family and friends have united to honor his lifelong work and carry forward his dream.

If you would like to get involved in preserving the Pacuare River region and Rafael’s legacy, please contact us. You also can sign up to receive e-news alerts from the Rivers and Forests Alliance.

We thank you for your support and commitment to conservation for our planet that will benefit us all.

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Pacuare River Costa Rica

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