Reforestation does not only require good intentions but also planned and well-executed actions. And it is that the forests -and the inhabitants that constitute them, the trees- are beings of immense complexity, that need very specific conditions to survive.
However, massive reforestation is possible. And Costa Rica is an inspiring example of this.
This Caribbean country has, today, twice as many forests as it did in the 1990s of the last century. As indicated by the United Nations University (UNU), in 1940 Costa Rica had 75% tropical forests, in areas usually inhabited by indigenous people, but in the subsequent decades, everything disappeared.
Diverse agricultural activities and the excessive obtaining of natural resources caused that, for 1983, only 26% of the territory still had forests. But Costa Rica is on track to recover all lost forests.
This is the greatest recovery of forest ecosystems that another country has ever had. How they did it? They began by protecting these ecosystems from deforestation, an activity whose rate decreased to zero in 1998. This was possible through reward mechanisms for those who provide environmental services, which has also reduced poverty in rural areas and has strengthened the indigenous communities.
The success of Costa Rica is due to 3 factors: ethics, environmentalism, and effective public policies. A trio of factors that many governments should adopt as the central axis of all planning, as Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado has rightly said: caring for the environment is “the great task of our generation”.
In Costa Rica, it is clear that the only way to sustain a country is to make it sustainable. The economy of this country now revolves around the conservation of ecosystems and the fight against climate change, which has led it to generate all its energy from renewable sources, among other actions. This makes us see that a future shared with a healthier environment is perfectly possible.