A sloth in the trees in Lapa Rios, Costa Rica

Conservation and Environmental Sustainability in Costa Rica

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Niarra Travel

In Costa Rica, where the forest canopy teems with life and the oceans are home to the planet’s most majestic marine creatures, the commitment to conservation and sustainability is not just a practice, but a way of life.

This dedication has placed Costa Rica at the forefront of ecological preservation, serving as a beacon of hope and a leading influence for the world. Costa Rica’s environmental efforts reveal a nation passionately working towards a sustainable future, one innovative project at a time.

A frog perched on a tree branch in Costa Rica

A Brief History of Conservation in Costa Rica

Costa Rica's conservation narrative is as rich and diverse as its ecosystems. From the verdant rainforests to its pristine coastlines, the country's history is a testament to the evolving relationship between humans and nature.

The advent of the beef cattle industry in the 1960s fueled Costa Rica into becoming Central America’s largest beef producer. This economic development led to systematic deforestation, and in 1980 almost a third of Costa Rica had been converted to pastureland. Today, close to 60% of Costa Rica is once again rainforest and the landscape is home to around half a million plant and animal species.

Conservation activities planting spekboom kids programme samara karoo dook

An important factor in the country’s success in environmental compliance is the PES scheme pioneered by the Costa Rican government in 1997 which pays farmers to protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity or mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. This would also lead many farmers to stray from agriculture, to become involved with ecotourism by way of building eco-lodges on their land, opening up their coffee plantations to tourists and creating educational or hiking tours of their local areas.

The centrepiece of the official conservation projects in Costa Rica was its system of national parks. The establishment of national parks and protected areas, such as the iconic Tortuguero National Park in 1975, underscored a growing awareness and dedication to safeguarding natural habitats. The creation of the park system created areas for travellers to come and experience the natural riches of Costa Rica’s tropical climate. These foundational steps laid the groundwork for what would become one of the world's most comprehensive conservation systems.

The protected coastline of Costa Rica

What Efforts Are Being Made to Protect the Environment in Costa Rica?

Today, Costa Rica's environmental initiatives are more dynamic and multifaceted than ever before.

Since 1990, Costa Rica has been able to double the size of its forests whilst tripling its GDP per capita. It is the first country in the world to reverse deforestation, showing the world that the restoration of nature is achievable and that it can be an engine for growth. Projects aimed at reforestation, wildlife monitoring, and habitat restoration are powered by a combination of government initiatives, non-profit organisations, and community involvement.

Animals large and small are protected and cared for in wildlife sanctuaries all around the country. No matter if it's a jaguar, sloth, toucan, ocelot or tapir, Costa Rica has endeavoured to create and has incentivised rescue centres and conservation for wildlife. These efforts underscore a holistic approach to environmental stewardship, ensuring every aspect of Costa Rica's natural heritage is nurtured and protected.

By 2025, the country aims to protect and conserve 100% of its coastal wetlands and perhaps even more ambitiously plans to increase the recorded area of coastal wetlands by at least 10% by 2030.

One of the most heartening examples of coastal conservation work in Costa Rica is turtle conservation. The country's shores serve as nesting grounds for several endangered turtle species, making their protection vital for global biodiversity. Dedicated programmes focusing on turtle conservation in Costa Rica have managed to increase hatchling survival rates, a crucial step towards ensuring these ancient mariners continue to grace our oceans.

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Ecotourism in Costa Rica

A pivotal element of the conservation projects in Costa Rica is their focus on ecotourism.

Decisions such as committing to renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal power mean that hotels, restaurants and other amenities developed to accommodate tourists have a minimal impact on the country’s carbon footprint.

Encouraging travel practices like using electric vehicles and bike rentals as well as the tourist board’s goal that all vehicles will be electric by 2035 further highlight Costa Rica's belief in promoting responsible travel.

More than a quarter of the surface of Costa Rica is protected to conserve the region's diverse landscape. Hosting 28 national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 11 forest reserves, 8 biological reserves and 15 wetland and mangrove reserves, the country boasts some of the most intensely biodiverse places in the world. These initiatives keep the land safe from development and help to attract visitors that desire a sustainable conservation vacation.

By inviting travellers to experience nature up close, Costa Rica has not only enhanced wildlife protection but also fuelled community development. Sustainable tourism initiatives in Costa Rica support local communities by adapting local industries for tourism instead of shifting them into new service industries. This offers tourists an insight into local authentic cultures whilst protecting traditional practices.

Pacuare eco-lodge in Costa Rica,

How Niarra is helping conservation work in Costa Rica

Conservation projects in Costa Rica are a powerful reminder of what can be achieved when a nation unites in a common purpose. The nation's steadfast commitment to environmental preservation, supported by innovative conservation projects and ecotourism models, sets a global standard for sustainable living.

Niarra Travel’s commitment is to transform the typical tourist visit into a meaningful travel experience that supports and uplifts local communities and ecosystems. Our collaborations with organisations such as The Long Run and Tourism Declares, along with our assortment of accommodation partners, are a testament to the positive impact we aim to foster through our travels.

If you are interested in sustainable travel to Costa Rica that helps local communities and environment, get in touch with our team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 (UK), +1 (833) 215 9353 (US) or at explore@niarratravel.com and begin crafting your dream conservation vacation today.

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