Panama, Costa Rica Renew

May 13, 2005

PANAMA (ACAN-EFE) – Panamaand Costa Rica have re-launched theirjoint efforts aimed at the protection of LaAmistad International Friendship Park, animportant biological reserve shared byboth countries.The goal of the cooperative effort is tofoster ecotourism in the zone, explainedLigia Castro, administrator of Panama’sNational Environment Authority, andCarlos Manuel Rodríguez, Costa Rica’sEnvironment Minister.The officials established a joint commissionin charge of coordinating administrationof the park and issued a joint statementTuesday calling for sustainable developmentthat contributes to the improvement of livingconditions of area residents.Rodríguez described the park as a “biodiversitybridge” connecting North andSouth America. Costa Rica and Panama mustwork together to make “intelligent use” ofthe park’s natural wealth in such a way thatbenefits farmers and indigenous populationson both sides of the border, he said.Rodríguez explained it would be “easier”to obtain foreign financing for sustainabledevelopment if both countrieswork together.Costa Rica obtains roughly $1.3 billiona year from tourism revenues, ofwhich $825 million come from ecotourismat its national parks, he explained.Panama, Rodríguez said, has “anincredibly large potential and much morebiodiversity than Costa Rica,” making itan ideal location for ecotourism.The International Friendship Parkspans half a million hectares betweenCosta Rica and Panama. The UnitedNations Educational, Scientific andCultural Organization (UNESCO)declared it a World Heritage Center in 1983.

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