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.
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.