Costa Rica Creates a New Category of Protected Area to Conserve Forests in Urban Areas

    Reinforcing its commitment to being a “green” country

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    Costa Rica has a new category of protected area called Urban Natural Parks (PANU), which seeks to conserve ecosystems and forests at risk in the city, as well as improve the physical and mental health of people. It also seeks to increase carbon sequestration; stimulate recreation and ecotourism; promote biological connectivity with the city’s green fabric and its rivers; and prevent natural disasters.

    The first PANU could be declared in Curridabat, with the La Colina Ecological Park. As of today, the country will have ten management categories, after creating the first Protected Wilderness Area in 1963. None of the existing categories until now considered the needs of urban natural spaces.

    Conservation strategies

    “This new category of management will allow to focus conservation strategies on the specific needs of spaces threatened by unplanned urban growth. It is part of the efforts to remedy the country’s historical debt to environmental protection in cities,” said Carlos Alvarado, President of the Republic.

    The humid premontane forest, present in the main urban areas of the country, is the second most altered and reduced type of forest. Today only 1.75% (9 thousand hectares) of its original coverage is preserved.

    “In Costa Rica, 60% of the population lives in the Greater Metropolitan Area, which constitutes only 4% of the national territory, so the conservation model had to adapt to this reality”, explained Andrea Meza, Minister of Environment and Energy. The creation of the PANUs will be led by the National System of Conservation Areas.

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