Environment Minister Édgar Gutiérrez and Assistant Director for International Affairs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Bryan Arroyo signed a cooperation agreement to develop joint environmental protection programs over the next five years.
President Luis Guillermo Solís and U.S. Ambassador S. Fitzgerald Haney signed as witnesses during a special ceremony held Wednesday at Casa Presidencial.
Under the agreement, the countries will promote projects to benefit protected areas, and exchange experts, researchers and students from both countries.
It also calls for more expeditious and severe punishment for people found guilty of trafficking endangered wildlife species.
Plans include support for improving care for confiscated or rescued animals and support for Costa Rica’s wildlife rescue centers.
The governments agreed to provide all necessary resources to carry out the projects over the five-year life of the memorandum of understanding, which can be extended by mutual agreement.
Currently 26 percent of Costa Rica’s territory lies within nature reserves, national parks and conservation areas, including two parks considered “World Heritage”: Cocos Island and La Amistad National Park.