In the 1980’s Costa Rica found itself in a desperate situation, due to massive deforestation by the timber and livestock industries, the country’s lush jungles were disappearing. In 2013 a detailed survey conducted by National Capital Accounting (NCA) declared that an enormous 52.4% of the country was covered in forest, a sharp contrast to the 26% of forest area accounted for in 1983. But what does this comeback story mean for Costa Rica’s economy, and how can the government keep forest growth and sustainable development going in a positive direction?

Natural Capital Accounting is a firm that provides legislators with more accurate information about how Costa Rica’s natural resources -namely wind, water, and forests- can contribute to the economy. According to Minister of Finance and first Vice President of Costa Rica Helio Fallas, “We need to better understand the interaction between the economy and the environment, and its implication for fiscal and economic policy.”

Leaders from around the world have recognized the importance of finding more sustainable resources. In a recent poll conducted by futurism.com renewable energy made up nearly a quarter of the world’s total power usage, and as of 2015 investments in the industry reached $286 billion, but is it too little too late? From 26% to  52.4% may seem like an improvement, however in the 1940’s Costa Rica’s forest coverage was at an astonishing 75%.

Reclaiming these levels of forest coverage may seem like a near impossible goal but in reality it’s not all that far away. What’s important to consider is that one of the main factors in the cultivation of renewable energy is that dedicated government led initiatives will play a major role. President Solís delivered a speech before The United Nations in 2015 in which he recognized the importance of countries like Costa Rica with large jungles in the reduction of carbon emissions.

Legislators are starting to view Costa Rica’s forests as a crucial piece of a complex economy, meaning the forests are starting to carry more weight than just being an input for the timber industry. Whether it be biodiversity protection services, or the reduction of carbon emissions, the bountiful jungles have countless subtle contributions. As these contributions are drawn more into the spotlight politicians like Fallas hope to see the construction of policies aimed at achieving long term sustainable development.

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