National Parks, Reserves & Refuges of Costa Rica
With a little more than 25% of its lands under some category of protection, it's easy to understand why eco-tourism is so popular in Costa Rica. There are more than 161 national parks, biological reserves, wildlife refuges, wetlands, protected zones and other parks and reserves in Costa Rica. The newest national park is Quetzal National Park, located in the high mountains of the southern Pacific region between Cartago and San Isidro.
So while you might choose to visit several destinations while in Costa Rica, there is always a park or reserve nearby where hiking, bird and wildlife watching, snorkeling and diving, whale watching, or any number of other typical Costa Rican activities can be enjoyed.
We offer several specialty tours featuring the popular and the not so popular parks and reserves. Contact us for more info!
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Did You Know?
- Costa Rica's protected areas cover more than three million acres of land.
- They are home to more than 4% of the world's total flora and fauna species.
- They take up more than 25% of the nation's territory, and this amount grows every year.
- PLEASE... no collecting of any natural materials--animals, plants, rocks, shells,
etc.- within Costa Rica's national parks, reserves and other protected
areas, including all beaches. If everyone who visited Costa Rica collected something, there would be nothing left!
History of Conservation in Costa Rica:
Costa Rica doesn't follow the 'Save the Planet' trend, it is one of its
founding members! With the preservation of the Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve, Costa Rica was one of the first countries to recognize that
development wrecks havock on nature! Over a century ago Costa Ricans
began creating boundaries to protect forests, wetlands, and coastal
areas simply for preservation and
for the pleasure of all its people.
In turn, they created a jewel of natural resources where wildlife and
other natural treasures flourish. Costa Rica still has primary forests you can walk through in the same condition as it was
over a million years ago. Read more about the National Parks of Costa Rica.
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Costa Rica's National System of Protection:
Back in 1988 Costa Rica was divided up into 11 individual conservation areas. This national system of conservation, collectively known as SINAC (Sistema Nacional de Areas de
Conservacion) falls under the jurisdiction of MINAE (Ministerio de Ambiental y Energia), and together they mange biodiversity and the sustainable use of protected areas.
With the implementation of SINAC, a decentralized approach to wildland management began in Costa Rica. Instead of one central
government agency deciding on the entire country's management tactics, each conservation area has control of the
management needed for their respective wildlands. An integral part of
this process is working with the surrounding communities for the true success of conservation and sustainable use of these natural areas.
“In the past, local communities were never consulted about changes
greatly affecting their lives, such as prohibiting their use of a
resource (hunting, firewood extraction, etc.). This resulted in
misunderstandings and hostility towards conservation efforts.” (RAMSAR,
Managing Beyond the Borders)
SINAC promotes participation of all groups, public and private,
national and international, who share the common objective of
preservation, restoration and protection of ecological equilibrium and
biodiversity. SINAC now functions as a technical organization
decentralized from the central government and with a legal mandate, permitting a great amount of flexibility in carrying out its
mission.” (RAMSAR, Managing Beyond Borders)
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