Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
national debt, environmental degradation, endangered species, hazardous wastes, cusp
Costa Rica’s land is protected by one of the most ambitious conservation programs in Central America. Costa Rica was one of the first, and most active, countries to participate in debt-for-nature swaps, which cancel some national debt in exchange for the protection of a specified amount of land from environmental degradation. In an effort to bolster its economy while remaining responsible to the environment, Costa Rica has also established a booming ecotourism business. This form of tourism encourages travelers to learn more about the country’s natural wonders and to respect the environment in the course of their exploration.
Despite Costa Rica’s efforts to protect its valuable forest resources, much of what lies outside the country’s protected reserves is subject to deforestation. Land is cleared for cattle ranching and for harvesting valuable tropical timber for export. In addition, because some of Costa Rica’s protected lands are privately owned, their protection from future deforestation is not guaranteed. Deforestation places Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity in danger. The country’s location on the cusp between North and South America and its abundance of tropical forests make it home to a great variety of species, many of them rare and threatened. Deforestation also contributes to the country’s problematic rate of soil erosion.
Costa Rica is party to international treaties concerning biodiversity, climate change, endangered species, hazardous wastes, marine dumping, and wetlands.
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