How Costa Rica Stopped Deforestation And Doubled The Amount Of Rainforest In Just 30 Years

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How Costa Rica Stopped Deforestation And Doubled The Amount Of Rainforest In Just 30 Years

Costa Rica is leading the world in fighting deforestation, and it is all down to a unique Payment Environmental Scheme (PES).
The nation, famed for its natural beauty, sits in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama. It is loved by tourists and is regarded as one of the safest and stable nations in the region, avoiding many of the problems that affect the wider region.


The story of Costa Rica's forests was not always so rosy. In the 1970s and 1980s, the country had the highest levels of deforestation in the Americas, and it is believed that while in the 1940s, over 75% of the country was covered in forest. This had reduced to just around 35% by the late 1980s.


Knowing something had to be done, the Costa Rican government imposed the PES. The PES treats the forest like a commonly held utility, with companies and individuals paying for their use of the forest, and to stop them cutting it down. For example, farmers are paid a subsidy to keep the forest in check and they receive funds in exchange for not cutting down any forestation on their lands. In the last 20 years half a billion US dollars has been paid out by the scheme.


The project seems to have worked! While there has been no return to 1940s levels of forestation the country is now over 60% forest. Thereby providing a habitat for the nation's wildlife and combating global warming by absorbing excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


The scheme, while appearing expensive, is actually a huge boost to the Costa Rican economy. Each year 3 million tourists arrive in Costa Rica, many attracted by the forests themselves, and the entire tourist industry is worth around 4 billion US dollars a year. The Costa Rican state knows that any decline in forestation would lead to a reduction in tourist numbers and therefore it makes perfect economic sense to continue with the PES scheme.


As Juan Robalino, of the University of Costa Rica, put it in an interview with CNN:


"People in Costa Rica receive a lot of money because of tourism and that changes the incentives of land use."


The scheme is now so effective that it has been adopted by other nations such as Rwanda, with others expected to develop similar schemes shortly.


While some may argue that putting a dollar sum on the worth of natural beauty may seem unethical, others would argue that the results speak for themselves and that such sensible policies can lead to a real defense of our natural world against the greed and desire of corporations seeking quick profit.

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Thinking Humanity: How Costa Rica Stopped Deforestation And Doubled The Amount Of Rainforest In Just 30 Years
How Costa Rica Stopped Deforestation And Doubled The Amount Of Rainforest In Just 30 Years
Costa Rica is leading the world in fighting deforestation, and it is all down to a unique Payment Environmental Scheme (PES). The nation, famed for its natural beauty, sits in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama. It is loved by tourists and is regarded as one of the safest and stable nations in the region, avoiding many of the problems that affect the wider region. The story of Costa Rica's forests was not always so rosy. In the 1970s and 1980s, the country had the highest levels of deforestation in the Americas, and it is believed that while in the 1940s, over 75% of the country was covered in forest. This had reduced to just around 35% by the late 1980s.
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