Costa Rica celebrates National Parks Day

August 30, 2012

From the print edition

Be it the iridescent blue flash of a morpho butterfly or the antics of a passel of squirrel monkeys in a continuous treetop highway, all depend on protected spaces in Costa Rica.

Aug. 24 was National Parks Day in Costa Rica, and numerous protected areas celebrated significant anniversaries. Manuel Antonio National Park, on the central Pacific coast, and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, in the Tilarán Mountains in north-central Costa Rica, marked their 40th birthdays, while La Amistad International Park, in southern Costa Rica, turned 30.

Costa Rica has 126 protected areas. Of those, 28 are national parks and three have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. These areas encompass 25 percent of the country’s total landmass.

To commemorate National Parks Day, the United States National Park Service and Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) renewed a memorandum outlining projects within  national parks and protected areas. A press release from SINAC said the agreement also includes cooperation in fire management, adaptation to climate change and the development of public educational information on the preservation of biodiversity and cultural heritage.

“This kind of cooperation between the U.S. and Costa Rica is not new, our relationship dates back decades,” said U.S. Ambassador Anne S. Andrew. “In a visit to Juan Castro Blanco National Park, I learned that the U.S. Agency for International Development had a role in the development of this and other parks. The U.S. continues as a partner in preserving forests of Costa Rica through the Law of Conservation of Tropical Forests.”

The signing of the memorandum resumes collaboration established May 9, 1997, during a visit by U.S. President Bill Clinton to Costa Rica. At the time, Clinton signed the Declaration of Braulio Carrillo, which established a framework for cooperation between SINAC and the National Park Service.

“Signing this memorandum will strengthen national parks and protected areas of both countries,” SINAC Executive Director Rafael Gutiérrez said. “Sharing experiences and lessons learned, [will] promote knowledge on topics and issues of mutual interest that contribute to the conservation and management of biodiversity, [and] natural and cultural resources in protected areas on both sides.” 

The history of cooperation between SINAC and the U.S. National Park System dates from the 1960s and ’70s, when two young Costa Rican students – Álvaro Ugalde and Mario Boza – traveled to the U.S. to work and study with the National Park Service.

These partnerships have identified conservation priorities such as the need to protect bird species that migrate each year from the Rockies to Costa Rica.

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