How Costa Rica saved its biodiversity

By | July 30, 2023

CNN reports:

Pedro Garcia nurses a plate of seeds on his lap. “This is my legacy,” he says, tenderly picking up the seed of a mountain almond – a tree which can grow up to 60 meters (200 feet) tall and is a favored nesting spot for the endangered great green macaw.

Aged 57, Garcia has worked on his seven-hectare plot, El Jicaro, in northeast Costa Rica’s Sarapiqui region for 36 years. In his hands it has turned from bare cattle pasture to a densely forested haven for wildlife, where the scent of vanilla wafts through the air and hummingbirds buzz between tropical fruit trees.

Garcia has restored the forest – home to hundreds of species from sloths to strawberry poison-dart frogs – while also cultivating agricultural products from pepper vines to organic pineapple.

This makes him self-sufficient but it does not turn a profit. Instead, Garcia relies on ecotourism – he guides biologists and ecologists around the plot for a small fee – and payments for ecosystem services (PES), a scheme run by the Costa Rican government that rewards farmers who carry out sustainable forestry and environmental protection.

Garcia is one of many Costa Ricans who have powered a mass conservation movement across the tiny Central American country. While most of the world is only just waking up to the importance of trees in battling the climate emergency, Costa Rica is years ahead. [Continue reading…]

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