Joseph Andrew Tosi, Jr., a U.S.-born geographer and ecologist known for defending Costa Rica’s natural areas, passed away Saturday in his home, east of San José. He was 85.
Born July 1, 1921, to Italian-Swedish parents in Worcester, Massachusetts, Tosi studied biology, ecology, forestry and geography at MassachusettsStateUniversity, YaleUniversity and ClarkUniversity, where he received a Ph.D. in ecology in 1959.
After living several years in Peru, Tosi, his wife and three children moved to Costa Rica in the early 1960s. In 1962, Tosi co-founded the TropicalScienceCenter, which brought the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve in north-central Costa Rica under its wing in the early 1970s.
Tosi was a pioneer in the movement to create national parks and private reserves in the face of rampant deforestation.
“He combined forestry, population dynamics, ecology, geology and other disciplines into a systematic understanding of how human dynamics affect natural resources,” said a statement from the TropicalScienceCenter, of which Tosi was honorary president at the time of his death.
In the early 1970s, Tosi did the environmental-impact study for the highway over Costa Rica’s central mountain range, which, the Tropical Science Center said, “led to the creation of a most-visited wilderness and water catchment area: The Braulio Carrillo National Park.”
Tosi studied and proposed a long list of protected areas. Many of them eventually became national parks or refuges, including CorcovadoNational Park, Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, CahuitaNational Park, La Amistad International Park, BarbillaNational Park, Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge and DiriáNational Park.
“The noble mission that Joe Tosi set for himself as a young man in the wilderness is being accomplished today in Costa Rica as key biological areas come under protection in one of the highest biodiversity regions of the globe,” the TropicalScienceCenter said.
Tosi, who lived east of San José in San Ramón de Trés Ríos, is survived by his loving wife and friend Mary Lu Tosi, son Alexander, daughter Lucinda, brother Peter Tosi, sister Beatrice Tosi, sister-in-law Gail Tosi, daughterin-law Marta Cascante de Tosi, grandchildren Joseph Daniel Tosi Cascante and Kesia Tosi de Kocak, and several great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his brother Charles Tosi, son Jonathan Tosi and grandson Sergio Andre Tosi.