Rewilding Costa Rica

'A Land of Sanctuary'

Our objective is to rewild 10,000 hectares of biological corridor that lie between Diria National Park and the Pacific Ocean - an area of tropical dry forest ravaged by deforestation as a result of cattle farming.

This precious tropical dry forest ecosystem is considered to be one of the most heavily-utilised and disturbed in the world, yet it has one of the most key roles to play in carbon storage and water reserves. Sadly, there is currently only 44% of the original distribution of this type of forest left in the Americas.


Costa Rica amounts to just 0.3% of the Earth’s surface, but it packs a lot into its borders in terms of beautiful biodiversity. The country’s diverse habitats and ecosystems provide homes to more than 500,000 species, including 900 different bird species, 250 species of mammals, and over 18% of all butterfly species in the world. 

The Nicoya Peninsula is one of only five ‘Blue Zones’ in the world, i.e. areas where people have been found to live longer, healthier and more fulfilled lives. We aim to keep it that way. Faith and family play a strong role in Nicoyan culture, as does their unique approach to life called ‘plan de vida’ or ‘reason to live’ – with elders maintaining a positive outlook and active lifestyle. Also, the water of the region is rich in calcium and magnesium, both of which promotes good health and strong bones.

The Costa Rican government is unique in their dedication to conservation. Across the country there are 20 National Parks, 8 biological reserves and numerous protected areas and animal refuges. This adds up to around 26% of the country’s land being protected in some way. The government have established a successful ‘payment for ecosystem services’ programme, which pays farmers and landowners who maintain and restore their forests and land, for the carbon sequestration, water and biodiversity services that their maintained land provides. Between 2010-2014, the country invested US$ 61 million in the program, benefiting more than 7,000 landowners and protecting 600,000 hectares of private land.

It isn't just the beautiful climate that makes Costa Rica so special, it's the unique mindset. Everywhere you go, you'll hear the phrase 'pura vida' being used in greeting. Simply translated, it means 'pure life', but it is more than just a simple translation - it is a dedicated way of life, a state of mind that reflects Costa Rican values of happiness, well-being, dependability and satisfaction. 

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Latin America, Costa Rica became a land of sanctuary for many fleeing their invasion. Eventually, Costa Rica became the first democratic country in Latin America, and it remains a safe and welcoming place to this day. 

Despite being a global leader in conservation – Costa Rica still faces serious challenges…

“Agriculture and land-use generates more greenhouse gas emissions than power generation." – Steven Chu (Nobel Prize winning scientist).

How serious is deforestation in Costa Rica?

Since the end of World War II, 80 percent of Costa Rica’s forests have disappeared. Things ramped up in the 1950’s and since then 60 percent of the country’s natural habitats have been cleared to make room for cattle ranching. This problem was exacerbated in the 1960s when the USA offered Costa Rican cattle ranchers millions of dollars in loans to produce beef.

The replacement of native animals with cattle has caused steep rises in emissions of methane – a greenhouse gas that is 34 times more potent than CO2 over a 100-year period. Also, waste produced by the cattle, and chemicals and pesticides used to create their pastures, have polluted the waterways. 

In forests, rainwater is absorbed at 67 times the rate that it is absorbed into grass-covered soil. This explains why flattening the land to make way for grazing pastures, has left the area more susceptible to flooding.

Much of the tropical dry forest area that makes up the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica was cut down to make way for teak plantations. Teak is an invasive species, not endemic to Costa Rica. These plantations destroy the existing ecosystem and do very little in terms of sequestering carbon or providing an alternative habitat for flora and fauna.