Costa Rica contains a notable range of species- more than six percent of the world’s total biodiversity, to be exact. In fact, the country ranks as one of the top twenty in terms of greatest overall biodiversity, despite its relatively limited surface area, which accounts for a mere 0.03% of Earth’s total land mass. With its geographic location positioned as a bridge between North and South America, the dense forests, micro climate-encompassing mountain range, and coastal waters of Costa Rica have served as a connection between species from both continents for centuries.
Upon deeper examination behind the biodiversity within Costa Rica’s unique geographical features, is the country’s dedicated and proven commitment to the preservation of it. Currently, over twenty five percent of Costa Rica is protected under its system of National Parks and Reserves, where its magnificent beaches, volcanoes, rainforests, and waterfalls, as well as the notable amount of species they contain, are completely secure from any threat of destruction. These National Parks and Reserves are managed by SINAC (Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion), a sub-department of Costa Rica’s MINAE (Ministry of Environment and Energy), and are the result of the many progressive environmental, and specifically, biodiversity protection laws and policies implemented by the Costa Rican legislature.
Costa Rica’s current protection policies and overall success in preserving its impressive biodiversity originates from 1996, when The Biodiversity Law of 1998 was first drafted. The law was intended to comprehensively address the ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty dedicated to formally acknowledging biodiversity preservation as a common concern for mankind, and critical component of national development. The Biodiversity Law aligned with the objectives of the Convention including the equitable distribution of benefits stemming from any use of biodiversity or genetic material as resources. By aligning The Biodiversity Law with this aspect of the treaty, Costa Rica was taking action to legally protect its domestic species from commercial activity; a necessary step as private medical research and clinical trials performed by NGOs such Frontier are attractive pursuits in the country’s tropical forests.
As a whole, Costa Rica should be considered a model example of how governments can effectively protect national biodiversity through implementation and enforcement of an ambitious environmental agenda. The country has succeeded in not only preserving its biodiversity, but in overall sustainable development, as ninety five percent of Costa Rica’s energy comes from renewable sources and it has committed to becoming the first carbon neutral country in the world by 2021. Costa Rica has also been ranked third in the Global Green Economy Index for sustainable performance, which is commendable considering the country’s diminutive size and economic influence. Furthermore, it is exciting to see Costa Rica create a culture of preservation centred around valuing its naturalness. Its dynamic environmental laws and policies will serve the foundation for a bright future in which biodiversity preservation is to be prioritized alongside economic development, rather than undermined by it.
Nicholas Sopuch is an intern at GreenPAC and a third year student at University of Toronto, pursuing a major in Peace, Conflict and Justice studies.