Costa Rica’s Return to Forest in the Midst of Latin America’s Deforestation

Costa Rica’s Return to Forest in the Midst of Latin America’s Deforestation

Original article by Wendy Anders, May 3, 2017, The Costa Rica Star

Changes in forest cover
Changes in forest cover. Image by Rodrigo Ruiz

While Latin America as a whole has experienced marked deforestation, Costa Rica has proved the notable exception, and has sustained and even increased its forest cover, said a climate investigation published in the University of Costa Rica’s weekly Semanario Universidad.

What has led to Costa Rica’s success? The United Nations Organization for Agriculture (FAO) says state support and incentives to preserve forests have played a key role.

Costa Rica’s environmental services payment program (PSA, its initials in Spanish) is one of the most successful environmental public policies in the country’s history, and has been used as a model for other countries.

The country went from having 75 percent forest cover in 1940 to an all time low of 21 percent in 1987, as shown in the infographic included above by Revista Vacío.

Today, more than half of the country is forested and, about 50 percent of forested lands are classified as protected.

The environmental service payment program was formalized in 1997, having morphed out of some similar previous programs. Between 1996 and 2015, investments in forest-related PSA projects in Costa Rica reached US$318 million, according to the FAO.

The program pays for four types of “environmental services” on forested lands. These include carbon capture; water protection for rural, urban or hydroelectric use; protection of biodiversity; and natural scenic beauty or value for tourism and/or scientific purposes. In essence, the program is simple: if you keep the forest on your property, Costa Rica will pay you.

The report in Semanario Universidad found that the environmental service payment program tends to be more effective in areas far from national parks. This appears to be related to the fact that owners of lands near national parks can often find more lucrative uses for their land due to the presence of tourism, and so conserving forest for government payments is not as attractive as in more remote areas.

An important finding for the FAO was that while other Latin American countries cleared forests to make room for agricultural production, Costa Rica was able to increase conservation and sustainable management of forests without jeopardizing their food security. In fact, the FAO found that 70 percent of deforestation in Latin America between 2000 and 2010 occurred to make way for commercial agriculture.

Costa Rica has increased its food security since the 1990s by increasing agricultural productivity and importing food from countries with lower production costs, according to the recent FAO report.

While there continue to be poor, landless and vulnerable rural families suffering from food insecurity, Costa Rica appears to be heading the right way and has found a way to preserve its forest cover while maintaining good levels of food security, said the report.

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10 Reasons to Visit Costa Rica During the Rainy Season

10 Reasons to Visit Costa Rica During the Rainy Season

Originally published by Laura Alvarado, April 28, 2017, in The Costa Rica Star

Rainy Afternoon
Photo by Andres Madrigal

It’s always a good time to visit Costa Rica, but for the most part you will always hear it is best during the “summer” time, dry season actually is a better term considering it’s always summer in this country; however, traveling to Costa Rica during the green season or rainy season has its advantages.

The green or rainy season in Costa Rica extends from May through December, however when it comes to tourism the “low season” includes the months of May and June and then September, October and November and even the first ten days of December. July and August used to be considered part of the “low season” but for some years now schools in the country schedule their vacation periods through these two months which also coincide with the summer break in the USA.

Here are the 10 reasons to visit Costa Rica during the rainy season:

1. Better Prices: Budget is always important, and the prices for airfare, hotels and tours sky rocket during the high season, so if you are
2. Less Crowds: Some people like crowds, but the majority tries to avoid them. Less crowds translate into better attention, shorter waiting times and more relaxation.
3. Sunny Mornings, Rainy Afternoons: With exceptions of course, rainy season in Costa Rica offers hot sunny morning and afternoon showers, this gives you enough time to enjoy the beach and different tours in the early hours of the day and enjoy your afternoon relaxing with the sound of the rain.
4. Green and greener: Rain makes everything greener and that makes for beautiful views, the rainforests come alive and this draws more wildlife.
5. Caribbean Coast: The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica (Limón) has the best weather during the months of September and October the beaches and National Parks in this area are worth visiting.
6. Whale Watching: If one of your interests is having the opportunity to go on a dolphin and whale watching tour, the rainy season is the perfect time. Although both whales and dolphins can be spotted other times of the year, the humpback whales show up in large numbers as they migrate to warmer waters during the month of September and early October. Marino Ballena National Park even hosts a Whale Watching Festival during this time.
7. Tortuguero: If you want to have the opportunity to witness the nesting of sea turtles, Tortuguero in the Caribbean is the perfect spot, and the green season is an optimal time to catch this amazing phenomenon. White water rafting is also a great option in the area.
8. Playa Grande: This beach in Guanacaste, which is part of the National Park Marino Las Baulas, is another great place to see the arrival of Baula Sea Turtles (Leatherback Sea Turtles). Turtles start arriving the last week of October.
9. Ostional Wildlife Refuge: Located in Guanacaste, Ostional is the site of arrival of thousands of sea turtles.
10. Romance: What can be more romantic than a rainy afternoon in paradise? Planning your honeymoon in Costa Rica during the green season is a fantastic idea.

Other activities like surfing, sport fishing and scuba diving are pretty much good all year round, it all depends too on the area you will be visiting, but likely there will always be a place in Costa Rica where you can find the best conditions for a particular activity no matter the time of the year.

Pack your bug repellent and your raincoat and you’ll be ready to enjoy Costa Rica during the off-season.

 

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Costa Rica Nominates Savegre River as its Fourth Biosphere Reserve

Costa Rica Nominates Savegre River as its Fourth Biosphere Reserve

Savegre River
Savegre River Photo by Christian Lee

Original article by Laura Alvarado April 28,2017, The Costa Rica Star

Costa Rica currently has three biosphere reserves: La Amistad, Cordillera Volcánica Central and Agua y Paz; now it is trying to get a fourth one: Savegre River.

What is a biosphere reserve? According to the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), these are “areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems which promote solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use; Science for Sustainability support sites’ – special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity”.

There are currently 669 biosphere reserves in 120 countries.

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Costa Rica is participating for the first time in Switzerland’s main touristic fair

Costa Rica is participating for the first time in Switzerland’s main touristic fair

 

Switzerland's Tourism Fair

Originally published by Laura Alvarado, January 28, 2017, The Costa Rica Star

Costa Rica was selected as a guest country by the organizers of the International Fair FESPO, the most important touristic fair in Switzerland.

This is the first time that Costa Rica participates in this international event that is taking place January 26th -29th in Zürich, Switzerland.

The participation in this fair will allow us to position the country in the European market, which represents a necessary and fundamental action to capture the attention of potential tourists”, said Mauricio Ventura, Minister of Tourism. Ventura added that efforts are also being done to approach this market with the confirmation of a new direct flight to Switzerland.

During these days, Costa Rica’s stand will be located in the exhibition center in a privileged position that is given only to the selected guest country. As part of the benefits given to the guest country, Costa Rica will also have a special section in the webpage of this important event.

The participation of Costa Rica in the FESPO, is of great interest to the general public, since as of May 9th of this 2017 the Swiss and Europeans will have the possibility of taking a direct flight to Costa Rica via Edelweiss airlines, which will operate two weekly flights, Tuesdays and Fridays, between Zürich and San José.

FESPO gathers more than 63000 participants yearly, and these could visit the Costa Rican stand that features general information, elements of traditional Costa Rican cuisine and attractive decoration with images of the country.

Last year, 21,242 tourists entered Costa Rica from Switzerland, a number expected to increase with the enter in operation of the new direct flight.

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5 Best Costa Rica Honeymoon Destinations

5 Best Costa Rica Honeymoon Destinations

Originally published by Shannon Farley, August 30, 2013 – Updated January 2017, The Costa Rica Star

You’ve met the man or woman of your dreams. You’ve planned your wedding down to the last sugared almond and flower arrangement. Now it’s time to think about the honeymoon.

You’ve met the man or woman of your dreams. You’ve planned your wedding down to the last sugared almond and flower arrangement. Now it’s time to think about the honeymoon.

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Costa Rican Weather – What to expect when moving to Costa Rica

Costa Rican Weather – What to expect when moving to Costa Rica

Originally article by Laura Alvarado, December 28, 2016, The Costa Rica Star

When you hear about the wonders Costa Rica has to offer, one of the aspects that always comes up is the wonderful weather the country has; this is the reason many choose it as a vacation escape, especially those that live in areas of very cold winters, and this is also the reason many decide to move to Costa Rica.

Beach and island view
Beach and island view

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Costa Rica Celebrates 68 Years Without an Army

Costa Rica Celebrates 68 Years Without an Army

Originally published by Wendy Anders, December, 1, 2016, The Costa Rica Star

“Blessed is the Costa Rican mother who knows that her son at birth will never be a soldier,” said the well-known Japanese politician and philanthropist Ryoichi Sasakawa in one of his visits to Costa Rica, as reported in Costa Rica’s Elperiodicocr.com digital news source today on the anniversary of Costa Rica’s abolition of its army on December 1, 1948.

Costa Rica. No army since 1948.
Costa Rica. No army since 1948.

Costa Rica made one of the most important decisions in its history 68 years ago by abolishing the army.

In a symbolic act, with a blow to the Bellavista Barracks, carried out by the then President of the Founding Governing Board of the Second Republic, José Figueres Ferrer, the Costa Rican army was officially dissolved, reported Elperiodicocr.com.

A series of events during that time, including the Civil War of 1948, and the ensuing formation of a Governing Board, which ruled for 18 months, allowed for important reforms in the country such as the creation of universal health care and education.

At the end of the Civil War and upon assuming power, the Founding Governing Board met with an extremely weakened army, and they jointly decided to eliminate it in order to invest the resources in improving the social and economic situation of the country, said Elperiodicocr.com.

The day the abolition of the Army was announced, the keys to the military barracks were handed over to the newly founded University of Costa Rica so they could establish the National Museum as a center for anthropological studies.

On October 31, 1949, the National Constituent Assembly incorporated the abolition of the army into Article 12 of the Political Constitution, thereby ensuring to the permanent elimination of the Costa Rican army, reported Elperiodicocr.com.

This year, the 68th anniversary of this momentous event for Costa Rica was celebrated with a symbolic act in the Plaza de la Democracia in downtown San José.

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Quepos History in Stone

Quepos History in Stone

Thank you to our guest blogger, Pat Cheek. This blog was originally posted on Quepolandia.com.

Walking along the malecón, sea wall, in Quepos you will notice large stone sculptures sitting atop pedestals. The sculptures were created in 2007, organized by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and sponsored by the Canton of Aguirre with the support of the Chamber of Commerce, Aguirre. Each sculpture was sponsored by a local business.

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Donations to Costa Rican Non-Profits in Lieu of Wedding Favors

Donations to Costa Rican Non-Profits in Lieu of Wedding Favors

Our guest blogger, Randy Gritz from Celebrations Costa Rica blogs about a new destination wedding trend. When Whitney & Daniel Pace got married at the Discovery Beach House they asked their guests to bring donations for Kids Saving the Rainforest.

Capuchin MonkeysI’m often asked about what should we give our guests as a favor to remember our wedding. I have a list that usually includes things like Costa Rican coffee, personalized mugs with a tropical animal as the handle and sarongs for the beach. These are great gifts but I want to focus on another trend by donating something meaningful to the community. A card is left at each guest’s place setting letting them know that in lieu of favors a donation to the community has been made.

You can make a difference in the lives of the people who live in the community where you’re having your wedding celebration. Let’s look at some possibilities. Evelyn Gallardo is the owner of Discovery Beach House in Manuel Antonio. She has been working with Pack for a Purpose. Her guests allocate space in their luggage to bring supplies to the local schools or nonprofit organizations.

Titi monkey mother and baby

Kids Saving the Rainforest  was started by two young girls living in Manuel Antonio. These nine year olds were concerned about the impact that the disappearing rainforest was having on the animals. Initially their organization put up “monkey bridges” that spanned over the streets so the monkeys could cross safely. Their idea has grown and now there is a rescue center, sanctuary, and volunteer program.

ASEPALECO, founded in 1991, is a non-profit organization that promotes the protection and sustainable use of natural resources, whose ultimate goal is to improve socio-environmental quality of life through education, training and community organizations focusing on sustainable development projects.

Greentique Hotels  have really stepped up and created various programs to represent sustainable practices. The Manuel Antonio Nature Park and Wildlife Refuge is an ongoing conservation project and nature exhibit. All proceeds remain with the operation of the refuge including the dormitory for the guides and student volunteers. The Santa Juana Rural Mountain Adventure and Conservation Projects focuses on reforestation and tree adoptions. Their tours help support many of the local families. At Villa Blanca the wedding couple and guests can adopt a tree or support school programs.