Costa Rica has expanded an already ambitious scheme to protect its coastline by tackling drug addiction and human trafficking in the areas earmarked for conservation. The project raised money from foundations and foreign governments via several innovative mechanisms to create a fund that would protect two million hectares of vulnerable forest and coastline in perpetuity
Results & Impact
Over two million hectares of Costa Rica's vulnerable forests and coastal areas are now protected – around a third of the whole country
The government of Costa Rica, The Walton Family Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, and the Linden Trust for Conservation
Costa Rica set up an NGO, Forever Costa Rica, to administer a fund that would protect vulnerable areas in perpetuity. Much of the money for that fund was provided by philanthropic foundations. In a bilateral agreement, the US government agreed to trim $26 million off its foreign debt if it spent that amount on conservation. Forever Costa Rica has now spent some of its funds on a radar to track drug dealers and human traffickers
City dwellers, rural population
Cost & Value
A total $80 million has been raised so far, of which $57 million was raised in 2010. Another $23 million was raised last year
Running since 2010
Raising funds for a conservation project during the height of the global recession was a major obstacle
An already ambitious scheme to protect Costa Rica’s coastline in perpetuity has gone even further, tackling drug addiction and human trafficking in the areas earmarked for conservation.
In 2007, the former President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, outlined a project to conserve and expand the country’s national parks, wildlife preserves and beaches. Few thought the scheme would prove successful, but only three years later in 2010, at the height of the international recession, the Costa Rican government, NGOs, foundations and experts had raised $57 million in funding. Another $23 million was raised more recently.
The project is called Forever Costa Rica and currently protects more than two million hectares of habitat. But the group behind it has also had to widen its scope within government to address additional challenges. As work has progressed on cleaning and preserving coastal areas – which are also areas affected by drugs and human trafficking – the team at Forever Costa Rica have built new partnerships with the country’s police departments and the Ministries of Environment, Security and Planning.
Forever Costa Rica has used some of its funds to part-finance a radar array on the Isla del Coco nature reserve. The array is intended to help police clamp down on drug running and illegal fishing in the protected area, and is being powered by an eco-friendly hydroelectric station. Altogether, the government is installing a network of 17 such radar sites.
“What makes us unique is the public-private partnership we were able to create,” said Zdenka Piskulich, executive director of Forever Costa Rica. “The backbone of everything we do is contained in a very detailed implementation plan which lasts five years, so we are now on our second plan. The government’s responsibility is to meet those goals and our role is support the government in meeting those goals.”
Costa Rica set up an NGO, Forever Costa Rica, to administer a fund that would protect vulnerable areas in perpetuity. Much of the money for that fund was provided by philanthropic foundations. In a bilateral agreement, the US government agreed to trim $26 million off its foreign debt if it spent that amount on conservation.
Forever Costa Rica monitors both the goals and the financial stability of the conservation work. It implements the conservation work being done to protect coastal-marine ecosystems, coral formations, seagrasses, islands and islets and beaches. The group also helps helps areas adapt to the effects of climate change. For the first time in Costa Rica, studies identifying the potential effects of climate change have helped create a risk map that has since been used to set investment priorities and additional goals.
Time magazine has described Forever Costa Rica as “conservation work on a much larger scale than the world had seen before” – and its funding partners include the Walton Family Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, and the Linden Trust for Conservation.
(Photo: Flickr/ Trish Hartmann)