Tuesday, 15 April 2008

A green revolution in Costa Rica

Photo of Arenal Volcano from Flickr user the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Creative Commons licence.

It didn't particularly surprise me to hear that Costa Rica has 6% of the world's biodiversity although only 0.03% of land surface. What did surprise me was to learn how well they have conserved that diversity and how positively they defend the environment.

Few countries have taken such initiatives. There is a system of national parks and reserves recognised as one of the most advanced in the world, with about 28% of the land under some form of management or protection.

Costa Rica is the only country in the world to have abolished its army and it has been using the money for the last half century for social and environmental policies. A pioneer of eco-tourism and biodiversity conservation, 95% of its electricity is renewable and it is pursuing an active policy of reforestation, and expects to become the first State in the world to achieve carbon neutrality by 2021.

Photo of Playa Espadilla in the Manuel Antonio National Park from Flickr user Dan.. Creative Commons licence.

There are certain advantages that Costa Rica has, unlike other countries:

  • A temperate and mild climate which generally ranges between 18 and 24 C throughout the year, reducing the need for heating or air conditioning.
  • A poor road system which leaves many parts not easily accessible, and so protecting the environment.
  • Plenty of water for renewable energy production.

But they have disadvantages too:

  • Because of their success they no longer qualify for debt cancellation, but they do have large debts.
  • The country is very heavily wooded so there is a limit to reforestation for carbon offset.
  • Growth of 6% has meant it has more industry and growth in the number of private vehicles.
The Costa Rica Tourist Board has developed certification for sustainable tourism, awarding one of five levels depending on how well a tourism company complies with its criteria. It sounds a wonderful place to visit. - it looks idyllic, but with the distance involved I think it's unlikely I'll ever get there.


  1. I'll love to be in this country. The diversity is simply amazing.

  2. Such beautiful pictures from such a beautiful lady. So unfair this is, but I'm afraid it's true: TAG again, my friend. Different one this time, but fast: show the world your desktop. Right now, before you clean it up. I'm waiting to see it! :) Come see mine first if you wish.

  3. We applaud Costa Rica for doing many things right.

    Search Saving Mono Titi to find out about endangered species in Costa Rica.

    The magnificent Harpy Eagle is already gone and there are many other species threatened.

  4. Hello fruity :) Yes, I'd love to visit, but too far for us I imagine.

    Relax Max, I have done what you ask, as you knew I would.

    Ecopreservationsociety, you're right of course, they could do more. However they do far, far more than many developed countries, and so deserve to have their successes recognised.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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