CHAPTER ELEVEN DIANE OCONNELL COSTA RICA AND THE FORESTRY TRANSITION: A MODEL FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES Introduction Tropical forests are disappearing at alarming rates. During the 1980's, approximately 4.6 million hectares of tropical rainforest and 6.1 million hectares of moist deciduous forest annually were converted to other land uses (Sizer, 1995). The loss of tropical forests is greatest in Asia (2.2 million hectares per year), followed closely by Latin America (1.9 million hectares per year). The reasons for tropical deforestation are very complex, and are linked to local needs of the community, national policy, and international markets. Solutions to tropical deforestation will require a complete analysis of all of the reasons for loss of this habitat. Government policies may be a part of the solution to reducing the loss of tropical forests. Costa Rica has experienced rapid rates of deforestation during the 1960's and 1970's. The national government responded to this environmental crisis by creating a widely-praised system of national parks, biological preserves, and other protected lands to slow down the deforestation rate. As a result of government policies, Costa Rica's deforestation rate has stabilized, and today there is little net loss of forests. Costa Rica is viewed as an international leader in conservation efforts and biodiversity preservation. However, Costa Rica still suffers from deforestation outside of the protected areas, threatening the edges of the protected areas and creating biogeographical islands of protected forests. In addition, the rapidly growing population may pose another threat to the remaining forests. The challenge for the national government of Costa Rica is to direct policy measures to the current deforestation outside of protected areas. If this challenge is not met, Costa Rica may one day be completely deforested outside of pockets of protected forests. Physical Geography of Costa Rica Costa Rica is a small country (19,730 square miles [51,032 square kilometers]), slightly larger that the state of West Virginia, and is located approximately 10 degrees north of the equator. The physical geography results from the complex relationship of many variables, including the tropical location, topography, and prevailing wind direction. The topography consists of two parallel mountain ranges which are tectonically active. The highly urbanized Central Valley or Meseta Central located between these mountain ranges is actually a tectonic depression (Dorn, 1989). Costa Rica is geologically young, and the volcanic soils are more fertile than the expected leached tropical soils. Prevailing winds come from the east, which bring large amounts of precipitation to the Caribbean coast (up to 200 inches per year), and lower amounts of precipitation to the northern and central part of the Pacific coast. The tropical location and the varied topography result in an amazing biological wealth; some estimates indicate that Costa Rica contains approximately 5 percent of all of the world's species of plants and animals (Baker, 1995). This biological wealth is closely linked to the variety of forests found in Costa Rica, including tropical rainforests, tropical wet and dry forests, and montane forests. Forestry Transition All societies are dynamic, and experience change in all or some of the following sectors: demographic, energy, urbanization, technological, educational, agricultural, and forestry. Transition theory provides a model to describe changes in sectors over time to understand the relationship between human population and the environment (Drake, 1993). When analyzing a sector longitudinally, there is a critical period where the rate of change is particularly fast, and the society must accommodate this change. The society may be vulnerable at this point, and have difficulty adapting to the change (Drake, 1993). A further complication occurs when societies experience rapid change in multiple sectors at the same time. Then, the potentially harmful impacts of one transition can be exaggerated by the presence of other transitions, and the society must cope with multiple changes simultaneously. Public policy can intervene to mitigate the negative impacts of rapid change in multiple sectors, if the society can identify these critical areas. A period of stability often follows this rapid change. The equilibrium that is achieved is dependent upon the way the society manages the period of rapid growth (Drake, 1993). Transition theory is particularly applicable to countries experiencing rapid population growth. Often, changes in many sectors are related to either human population growth or changes in settlement patterns. Rapid population growth often directly affects the educational, agricultural, forestry, energy and urbanization sectors. Besides affecting many sectors in the society, rapid population growth has a major impact on the environment. For purposes of analysis, it may be desirable to examine one transition; however, transitions from different sectors are intimately linked, and it is difficult to completely separate one from the others. The forestry transition describes changes in forest cover over time. At the beginning of the forestry transition, a large percentage of a region is forested. During the critical period of the transition, deforestation rates are exceptionally high. Forest cover eventually stabilizes at a lower total area of forest cover than at the beginning of the transition. The rate of deforestation is determined by many variables, including local demand for forest products and land, and international demand for forest products. Forests are a renewable resource, and the forestry transition is complicated because regeneration of forests often occurs simultaneously with deforestation. However, regenerated forests frequently do not contain the rich biodiversity of the original forests because non- native or mono-species often replace the native species. The forestry transition is further complicated because of the difficulty of obtaining longitudinal data on forest cover and the lack of universal agreement on definitions for forest cover and deforestation. The forestry transition for Costa Rica is illustrated in Figure 1. Forest declined rapidly from 1961 to the early 1980's, while the land in permanent pasture increased dramatically. The country was in a very vulnerable stage during this period of extremely high rates of deforestation. Deforestation rates were 7 percent per year during this period of rapid change, versus 2 percent for the other time periods (Sader, 1988). This high deforestation rate between 1977 and 1983 indicates a significant loss of primary forest. Continuation of this rate of deforestation would have eventually resulted in complete deforestation of the country. However, stability is reached by the early 1980's, and there appears to be little change of forest cover since that time. The amount of land in cropland has remained almost constant. Costa Rica has completed the forestry transition, and has reached a stable point where total deforestation rates are relatively low. However, deforestation does occur, and the following section explore the reasons for historical and current deforestation in Costa Rica.
Causes of Deforestation in Costa Rica Deforestation results from both direct and indirect factors. Direct factors emanate from the local area, while indirect ones can be attributed to global factors (Honadle, 1995, p. 90). Direct factors include social variables, such as population growth and change in migration patters; economic variables, such as growth of transportation corridors and employment opportunities; and political variables, such as national land policies and government subsidies. In addition, physical variables, such as type and accessibility of forests, play an important role in the rate of deforestation. Indirect causes for tropical deforestation result from international market needs (Honadle, 1995, p. 92). Indirect factors include world demand for tropical products, such as hardwoods, fruit, and palm oil, and the world demand for beef. The indirect factors are frequently linked to direct factors; for example, global consumer demand for bananas increases the amount of land cleared for banana plantations and the local community sees the potential for both employment and revenue from the banana plantations (direct factors). Tropical deforestation is a complex problem that is affected both by other sectors in the society, and by international markets. Historical analysis of forest cover is often restricted by lack of both the necessary data and longitudinal maps of land use/land cover. Sader and Joyce (1988) used satellite images to complete a longitudinal study of the loss of primary forests in Costa Rica during five time periods: 1940, 1950, 1961, 1977, 1983 (Figure 2). The study focuses on physical variables related to deforestation, including type of forest, humidity, and slope. Figure 2: The Forestry Transition in Costa Rica. Source: World Resources Institute, 1994. Prior to 1940, most deforestation occurred in the tropical wet and dry forests in the northwestern part of the country. These ecosystems have a distinctly dry season, and were cleared for crops and pasture land in the early history of the country (Sader, 1988). Primary forest occupied only 11 percent of the entire tropical dry region as of 1940. Between 1940 and 1950, the highest average annual rates of forest clearing occurred in the tropical dry and montane moist forests (Sader, 1988). During the time period of 1961 to 1977, the highest annual rates of clearing occurred in the montane wet forests, followed by the tropical wet forest. By 1977, the primary tropical dry region was totally deforested. As a result of the loss of the tropical dry forests, the tropical moist forests are now cleared for cattle ranching. Annual deforestation rates between the years 1940 to 1983 were lowest for relatively dry forested areas, such as montane forests. The more humid areas are less accessible and less desirable for agriculture and pasture use because of high rainfall, rugged topography and rocky soils (Sader, 1988). Much of Costa Rica is in relief; the majority of the low lying areas are located inn tropical rainy locations. Prior to 1940 and for the period 1940 to 1950, the largest amount of forest cleared occurred in the 31 to 45 percent slope category. Between the years 1961 and 1977, the forest clearing rate increased on the shallow slopes (4.4 percent per year). Prior to 1977, the 0 to 5 percent slope areas were inaccessible Atlantic coastal plains. However, the rate of deforestation has increased in the tropical rainforests adjacent to the San Jose-Guapiles Highway in the 1977 to 1983 period (Baker, 1995). Social Variables Related to Deforestation Deforestation is closely associated with a growing population because of the need for additional land for both settlement and agriculture. Costa Rica has a population of 3.3 million people. The birth rate is 26 per thousand, and death rate is 4 per thousand, which results in a 2.2 percent natural increase and a doubling time of 32 years (Figure 3). Costa Rica is in Stage 2 of the Demographic Transition Model, the fastest growing stage of the model. Population growth rate has been dramatic, as illustrated in Figure 4, which shows an exponential curve fit to the population growth for the time period of 1950 to 1995. In 1990, approximately one-third of the population was under 15 years of age, indicating that population growth will probably continue for several decades (World Resources Institute [WRI], 1994). The population may double to 6 million before stabilizing. This growing population places a stress on the country's national resources, including the forests. Figure 3: The Demographic Transition for Costa Rica. Source: World Resources Institute, 1994. Figure 4: Actual and Projected Population of Costa Rica. Source: World Resources Institute, 1994.
Approximately half of the population resides in the San Jose metropolitan area and the Central Valley. During the 1970's, migration increased to the San Jose metropolitan area in response to a depressed agricultural sector and the promise of employment in urban areas. However, the global recession triggered by the 1979 oil price increase, 1980 increase in world interest rates, and reduced foreign loans, altered migration patterns. In the time period of 1981 to 1982, citizens left the San Jose metropolitan area and moved to rural districts. Between the years 1973 to 1984, population increased 51 percent in rural areas with arable land (WRI, 1994). Population increased on marginal land, also; the population increased 27 percent on land classified as poor and 16 percent on land classified as very poor (WRI, 1994). This migration to rural districts has increased deforestation rates. Since 1984, the population in the urban areas, primarily San Jose and Alajeula, has been steadily increasing (WRI, 1994). Economic Variables Related to Deforestation Economic variables that contribute to deforestation include the growth of the transportation network, increased production of crops and beef for export, and the loss of employment on plantations. The development of transportation corridors increase accessibility to previously remote areas, and hasten deforestation. Costa Rica's transportation network grew dramatically during the time period 1977 to 1983. The cumulative distance of primary, secondary and unimproved roads and railroads was approximately 2088 kilometers in 1967 and 5582 kilometers in 1977 (Sader, 1988). In 1977, the mean distance from the nearest road or railroad to a forest was 14.2 kilometers. The greatest distance of any forest location (63.5 kilometers) to the nearest road or railroad is located in the northeast near the Nicaraguan border (Sader, 1988). However, the San Jose - Guapiles highway, which links the capital San Jose to the Atlantic lowlands has opened up this previously inaccessible area (Baker, 1995). During the 1970's, much of the forest clearing is directly related to the expansion of the cattle industry (Figure 2). The tropical wet and dry forests of the Pacific lowlands are largely deforested today, and the land is in permanent pasture. Today, it is the expansion of banana plantations, rather than the cattle industry, that is a reason for much of the deforestation. Bananas are a major sources of revenue for Costa Rica, and banana plantations bring the promise of local employment opportunities and increased capital for both the local and national economy. However, these plantations have also caused social and environmental problems, as illustrated by the following example in the Sarapiqui region. The Sarapiqui region is located near the San Juan River close to the Nicaraguan border. The Sarapiqui contains approximately 250,000 hectares, of which 50,000 are protected in biological preserves, 100,000 are in peasant agricultural communities, and 100,000 consists of secondary growth forest, cattle pasture, ornamental-plant or fruit plantation (Vandermeer, 1995). At least five banana companies are planning expansion in this region because of perceived market opportunities in the European Community and Eastern Europe (Vandermeer, 1995). Both the local and national governments encourage the expansion of banana plantations. Costa Rica is a poor country with a large external debt, so companies that promise revenue and employment are welcomed regardless of the problems that may result. The banana industry brings complex chemical pesticides and fertilizers to the region, reduces the amount of forests, and contributes to local social problems. Pesticides pollute local water bodies and poison plantation workers. Standard Fruit Company used the fungicide DBCP in the region, and approximately 2,000 workers on the plantation became sterile (Vandermeer, 1995). Forests must be cleared for the banana industry. The area in the Sarapiqui dedicated to banana plantations increased from 20,000 hectares in 1985 to 32,000 hectares in 1991, and it is projected to be 45,000 hectares by the end of 1995 (Vandermeer, 1995). Banana plantations may eventually include all of the arable land in the region that is not either protected in a biological preserve or owned by agricultural communities. Frequently, the local work force does not provide enough laborers, and workers are imported from other parts of Costa Rica or from other countries, including Nicaragua and Panama. When banana prices fluctuate in the world market, or the land becomes unproductive through overuse, banana companies reduce their work force. The unemployed workers can either migrate to the metropolitan areas or try to settle in the region. Unemployed workers that remain in the region need land to grow subsistence crops or harvest products from the forests. However, the local community in the Sarapiqui may have little land to offer the workers, and the only land that is not devoted to agriculture is located within the four biological reserves in the region. One future scenario projects that the landless peasants may be forced to clear the forests in the biological preserves (Vandermeer, 1995).Protected lands have been threatened by unemployed
Political Variables Related to Deforestation
Federal policies contributed to the rapid rate of deforestation
in the 1960's and 1970's. The 1961 Land Reform law allowed landless
migrants to apply to the Agrarian Development Institute (IDA) to obtain a
title for unused private land (WRI, 1995). Unfortunately, much of the
IDA land was marginal land, and was prone to high rates of soil erosion
if deforested. In the 1970's, ownership rights were given to anyone who
cleared the land and lived on it for one year (WRI, 1994). Squatters
could either claim land after a 10 year period, or sell the cleared or
improved land after only one year to cattle ranchers, who immediately
took title to the land. Poor and landless individuals could profit by
clearing land and selling the land to cattle ranchers.
Much of the deforestation on the Pacific Coast is a result of
expansion of the cattle industry. Government policies promoted the beef
export industry by allowing subsidized credit to ranchers, and
tolerating high delinquency rates (WRI, 1995). People were motivated by
these subsidies to enter the cattle industry whether or not the industry
Current Rate of Deforestation
The annual rate of deforestation for the time period of 1981 to
1990 is approximately 50 hectares or a 2.6 percent annual rate (WRI,
1994). Costa Rica has the largest annual rate of deforestation in
Central America (Sizer, 1995). The annual logging of closed broadleaf
forest (1981 to 1990) is approximately 34 hectares per year; 27 percent
of which is primary forest (WRI, 1994). A chart showing current land
cover is in Figure 4.
Figure 5: Land Use/Land Cover in Costa Rica.
Source: World Resources Institute, 1994.
Government Response to Deforestation
The Costa Rican government responded to the rapid deforestation
rates in the 1970's by banning the export of more than 60 tree species
and prohibiting deforestation without permits (Baker, 1995). However,
efforts by the federal government have not ended deforestation; landless
peasants continue to move onto marginal land, and land is cleared for
coffee and banana plantations.
In 1970, Costa Rica formed a national park system to protect
valuable forests and preserve biodiversity. Approximately 10.27 percent
of the total land area is protected and an additional 17 percent is aside
as forest reserves, buffer zones, wildlife refuges and Indian reserves
(Baker, 1995). The National Park System is in charge of managing 21
national parks, 9 biological reserves, and a national monument (Table
1). The national parks and reserves protect soil and watersheds, and
preserve the habitat for approximately 75 percent of all Costa Rican
species of flora and fauna (Baker, 1995).
Table 1: Costa Rica's National Parks, Refuges, and Reserves
Arenal National Park Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve
Barra Honda National Park Irazu Volcano National Park
Braulio Carrillo National Park Isla Guayabo Biological Reserve
Cabo Blanco Natural Reserve Juan Castro Blanco National Park
Cahuita National Park La Amistad International Park
Cano Island Biological Reserve Las Baulas de Guanacaste Park
Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge Lomas Barbudal Biological Reserve
Carara Biological Reserve Manuel Antonio National Park
Chirripo National Park Marino Belleno National Park
Cocos Island National Park Palo Verde National Park
Corcovado National Park Poas Volcano National Park
Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge
Guanacaste National Park
Guayabo National Monument
Tortuguero National Park
Barra del Colorado
Rincon de la Vieja
Santa Rosa National Park
Tapanti National ParkOstional
National Wildlife Refuge
Source: Instituto Costarricense de Turismo, 1995. In 1989, the country began to reorganize the National Park System in an attempt to increase the protection of the forests. The national parks, reserves, and national forests are being combined into larger regional conservation units (RCUs) so that wildlife can easily migrate from one preserve to another. The Guanacaste Regional Conservation Unit serves as a model for these megaparks (United National Environment Programme). The other RCUs are: Arenal, Cordillera Volcanica Central, Isla del Coco, Osa, Pacifico Central, Tempisque, and Tortuguero. Costa Rica is widely praised for its system of protected areas. Only five percent of the forests in Costa Rica are not under some kind of protected status. The National System of Conservation Areas will hopefully ensure the long term preservation of one-fourth of the country, and the current administration plans to expand the conservation areas to cover one-third of the total area of the country (Figueres, 1994) The national government also promotes reforestation by using tax breaks, but the reforestation often results in the development of tree farms that contain non-native species, such as teak. The government grants legal residency status to persons participating in reforestation programs; however, these efforts frequently do not replicate the once complex ecosystems (Baker, 1995). Costa Rica's Model of Sustainable Development Sustainable development is not a clearly defined concept; many interpretations can be found to describe sustainable development. The Brundtland Commission summed up the spirit of sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (in Hale, 1993). The Jose Maria Figueres Olsen administration views sustainable development as an alternative development paradigm to ensure both economic growth and environmental protection in Costa Rica (Figueres, 1994). Costa Rica is currently experiencing difficulty in many sectors, including the forestry, demographic, energy and urban sectors. Forests outside of protected areas are cleared, the human population is rapidly growing, energy consumption increases 9 percent annually, and the migration to the Central Valley increases (Castro, 1994). The possibility of a reduced standard of living for Costa Ricans has convinced the government to pursue a model of development that differs significantly from the current industrialized model. The national government is using Agenda 21 from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in June, 1992 as a guide for implementing sustainable development policies, and hopes to export this sustainable development model to the rest of the tropical developing world (Figueres,1995; Keating, 1995). A key motivation for the construction of this new model of development is the desire for preservation of the forests which host the vast biological wealth; as stated by the Minister of Natural Resources, Energy, and Mines: "Biodiversity is a pillar of Costa Rica's sustainable development initiative" (Castro, 1994). The Costa Rican model for sustainable development is impressive in its extent, and attempts to integrate international (extra-regional), regional, national, and local components (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Major Components of the Costa Rican Model for Sustainable Development:
Ratified Convention on Climate Change (1994) Statement of Intent for Bilateral Sustainable Development, Cooperation and Joint Implementation of Measures to Reduce Emissions of Greenhouse Gases - United States and Costa Rica (September 30, 1994) Convention on Biological Diversity Conservation Units can Procure international funding INBio - Merck Pharmaceuticals, Inc. INBio - Intergraph
Central American Commission of Environment and Development protect region's biological diversity (1989) coordinate preservation of tropical forests Central American Convention on Biodiversity (1992) Central American Alliance for Sustainable Development (1993) Convention for the Management and Conservation of Natural Forest Ecosystems and the Development of Forest Plantation (1994) Megaparks (Path of the Panther ) Si a Paz and La Amistad
Constitutional Reform Reforms to articles 18 and 15 of the Constitution "right to a healthy and ecologically sound environment" Institutional Reforms Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines Policy Reforms Increased Public Participation Electricity Tax
Water districts Local autonomous groups
Source: Figueres, 1994 and 1995; Keating, 1995; World Resources Institute, 1995, Castro, 1994.
International Component of the Model An integral part of the sustainable development model is for Costa Rica to forge alliances and agreements with other nations. Opportunities for sustainable development investments and projects, such as the Global Environmental Facility wind power project, are created by international agreements (Castro, 1994). Costa Rica has also adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Costa Rica is welcoming joint implementation projects, cooperative projects between developed and developing countries to reduce greenhouse emissions (Castro, 1994). On September 30, 1994, United States Vice-President Gore and President Figueres signed a letter of intent for a Bilateral Sustainable Development, Cooperation, and Joint Implementation (United States, 1994). A pilot project will institute sustainable forest management in a national park and buffer zone in central Costa Rica. The project includes funding to police illegal deforestation and purchase privately held land inside the park (United States, 1994). International non-governmental organizations are welcomed to Costa Rica to help develop conservation programs and provide funding to implement these programs. Costa Rica contains numerous private reserves and a children's reforestation project in Monteverde. Some of these organizations participate in a debt-for-nature swap program that is designed to both protect forests and reduce the country's external debt (Table 2). One example of a debt-for-nature swap follows. The Nature Conservancy bought a portion of Costa Ricas debt from a United States bank at a discounted rate. Costa Rica then paid off the National Parks Foundation with bonds in the local currency, and agreed that the money would be used on conservation projects. Table 2: Debt-for-Nature Swaps in Costa Rica.
Purchaser Date Face Value of debt Millions of dollars Cost($) Funds Generated(million $)
FPN 2/88 Total 5.4 918,000 4.05 Netherlands 7/88 Total 33 5,000,000 9,9 TNC 1/89 Total 5.6 784,000 1.68 Sweden 3/90 Total 24.5 3,500,000 17.1 Sweden/WWF/TNC 3/90 Total 10.753 1,953,473 9.602 Rainforest Alliance/MCL/TNC 1/91 Total 0.6 360,000 0.54 Source: World Resources Institute, 1992. Costa Rican conservation units can procure international funding, and manage their budgets separately from the national budget. Costa Rica's National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) recently signed a contract with Merck Co., Ltd, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. INBio will provide Merck with samples of plant and insect species in exchange for royalties from any marketable products (Langreth, 1994). The objective of the agreement is to finance the conservation of biodiversity, and to ensure that Costa Rica receives a small percentage of profits derived from pharmaceutical extracts. Some of the proceeds will help fund the "All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory," a detailed survey that will eventually include all of the species found in the Guanacaste Conservation Area (INBITTA, 1995) Regional Component of the Model Central America has a unique political geography; seven small countries share an isthmus that connects two much larger regions. Because of the physical proximity, environmental problems frequently become transboundary problems. These issues require a regional solution, and the governments of the Central American countries have made several efforts to unify the region. During the 1989 Summit at Costa del Sol, the Central American presidents agreed to create the Central American Commission of Environment and Development (CCAD) to protect the region's biological diversity, and coordinate preservation of tropical forests (WRI, 1995). CCAD consists of representatives from each of the seven Central American countries. The charter states that the goal of the organization is to promote "coordinated actions by governmental, non-governmental, and international organizations" (Weed, 1993). The CCAD created a forestry unit that designed a regional Tropical Forestry Action Program (TFAP), to develop guidelines for forest policy (Figueres, 1995). In 1992, CCAD representatives signed an agreement with the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration to receive regular satellite images to provide information to use to advise member governments on deforestation (Weed, 1993). As a result of the Convention for the Management and Conservation of Natural Forest Ecosystems and the Development of Forest Plantation, the Central American countries propose to consolidate the management of protected areas, reforest lands, and manage forest growth in secondary forests (Figueres, 1995). The region's national forest service directors and TFAP coordinators met with farmer's unions, forestry industry representatives, and women's groups during the convention to discuss any concerns related to the management of the regions forests. Transboundary protected zones are being established throughout Central America to protect international forests from squatters and prospectors. These international reserves, often called "Peace Parks," include La Amistad Conservation and Development Initiative, located along the border between Panama and Costa Rica, and the 500,000 hectare "Sistema de Areas Protegidas para la Paz (System of Protected Areas for Peace), also called the Si-a-Paz, reserve along the Costa Rican-Nicaraguan border (Weed, 1990). An eventual goal is to create a Central American biogeographical corridor called the "Path of the Panther." These transboundary parks are rich in biodiversity, and unfortunately are under intense pressure for development (Weed, 1990). A regional plan called the Central American Alliance for Sustainable Development (alianza para el Dessarrollo Sostenible de Centro America) was launched in December, 1993 by United States Vice-President Albert Gore and the presidents of the Central American countries (Figueres, 1995). The objectives are listed below: Table 3: General Objectives of the Central American Alliance for Sustainable Development 1. To make Central America a region where peace, freedom, democracy, and development will thrive by promoting a change in personal and social attitudes in support of sustainable development in the political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental domains. 2. To ensure sustainable practices for preserving regional biodiversity. 3. To communicate the Alliances achievements to the international community so that Central American efforts will serve as an example to others. 4. To permanently strengthen societys capacity and increase participation in the process of improving the present and future quality of life. Source: World Resources Institute, March, 1995. National Component of the Model The Costa Rican government is taking steps towards sustainability by implementing constitutional, institutional, and policy reforms. In 1994, articles 18 and 50 of the Political Constitution were revised to confer the "right to a healthy and ecologically sound environment" (Castro, 1994). The Parks Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Forest Reserves and Protected merged into a new institution: the Directorate of Conservation Units under the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines (United Nations Environment Programme). Costa Rica is currently experiencing a nine percent increase per year in electricity demand, and an electricity tax was implemented to internalize the full environmental costs of generating electricity (Castro, 1994). A national government - non-governmental organization (NGO) commission developed a project to convert up to 2 million hectares of pasture back to woody crops and forest (WRI, 1995). In November, 1994, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy, and Mines and the Ministry of Rural Development inaugurated the 7,000 hectare Horizantes Forest Experiment Station in the Guanacaste Conservation Area (ATBI for Terrestrial Organizations of the Guanacaste Conservation Area). Government and private extension agents provide educational support to help citizens switch from grass to woody crops. Local Component The national government plans to integrate local community groups into the sustainable development model. Costa Rica has numerous community organizations, including 2,000 rural development boards, two thousand water control boards, and 100 nongovernmental organizations (Figueres, 1995). These organizations will be informed and hopefully involved in the national government's effort to pursue sustainable development. Exportability of the Model Costa Rica is planning to become a pilot project for sustainable development, and create a model that can be exported to the rest of the developing world. But, can the Costa Rican Model be applied to other tropical developing countries? Even though Costa Rica is a poor country and is classified economically as a developing or a Third World nation, Costa Rica has undergone a social and political transformation in the past four decades that differentiates it from the rest of the Third World. Many social indicators place Costa Rica in a developed nation category rather than with developing nations. Table 4 compares relative characteristics of wealth and social indicators for Costa Rica, its Third World neighbors in Central America, and the more developed United States. Advances in education, health care, and urban and rural infrastructure have resulted in a dramatic improvement in the lives of both rural and urban Costa Ricans. Costa Rica has had a strong democratic tradition since its independence in 1821. Costa Rica was the first Latin American country to base its government on free elections and a multi-party system (Wearing, 1993). In 1948, Costa Rica abolished its military, and the government still pursues a philosophy of social and economic improvements for all Costa Ricans. The nation continues to develop democratic institutions, and search for ways to both improve the lives of the people and the quality of the environment. Costa Ricas political system contrasts dramatically with the political systems of its neighbors. The Costa Rican Model of Sustainable Development has evolved from this history of social transformations and democratic principles. In addition, the country actively seeks international experts to help design programs and restructure governmental agencies. The well educated and healthy Costa Rican population is an asset to the implementation of conservation projects. The country already has a strong environmental educational program. The traditions of dedication to the quality of all citizens and democracy are very different from the experience in much of the developing world. An important question is whether the Costa Rican model can be applied to nations that have not undergone social and political transformations. Because of the unique circumstances in Costa Rica, some of the programs initiated in Costa Rica may be difficult to implement elsewhere in the developing world. Another potential problem with the model is that it may not stop the high deforestation rates outside of protected areas. The Costa Rican Model of Sustainable Development ultimately relies on a national system of protected lands to save forests; indeed the current administration plans to increase the amount of protected land to approximately 30 percent, and today only 32 percent of the total area is forested. Therefore, almost all of the forests in the country would be under some kind of government protection. Placing land under protected status does not address all of the critical variables related to deforestation. In addition, there can be no guarantee that the sanctity of national parks will not be violated if the local population needs land or forest products. The model needs to incorporate the reasons for deforestation, and attempt a solution to this problem. Deforestation outside of protected areas is caused by many linked variables, and is a difficult problem to solve. Table 2: Comparison of Costa Rica, Central America, and the United States Characteristics of Wealth.
Characteristic Costa Rica Central America (1) United States GNP per capita $1,841 $1,201 $22,356 Agricultural Labor Force 24% 36% (2) 2% Birth Rate (per thousand) 26.3 34.9 (2) 15.9 Total Fertility Rate 3.1 4.4 (2) 2.1 Life Expectancy 76.3 67.28 (2) 75.9 Death Rate (per thousand) 4 6.8 9 Infant Mortality 14 45.4 8 Assess to Clean Water Rural (%) 84 41 not available Urban (%) 100 89 not available Assess to Sanitation Service Rural(%) 93 44.4 (3) not available Urban (%) 100 75.6 not available Government Expenditure for Health (%) 26.3 11.8 (4) 13.5 Adult Female Literacy 93 69 (5) 99 Adult Male Literacy 93 75 (5) 99 Couples using Contraceptives 70 40 (1) 74 Per Capita Energy Consump (gigajoules) 16 12.1 320 Percent change(since 1971) 30 7 -4 Per capita carbon dioxide emissions (%) 1.06 0.53 19.53 (1) Central America calculations exclude Costa Rica (2) Excluding Belize (3) Excluding Nicaragua (4) Excluding Honduras, Nicaragua, and Belize (5) Excluding Belize and Nicaragua Source: World Resources Institute, 1994. Policy Recommendations - For the Donor International Community Costa Rica is experimenting with a form of economic development that does not sacrifice environmental quality. The international community should pay close attention to this experiment because all nations in the future may have to link economic growth and environmental protection. Therefore, the donor international community should support Costa Rica's efforts with financial, technical and scientific support. Financial institutions should forgive the massive external debt that has accumulated in Costa Rica (Figure 6). This external debt may pose the greatest obstacle to the Costa Rican efforts of sustainable development. The country is so pressed for revenue that polluting industries are actually welcomed in this conservation-conscious nation. The country is forced to cannibalize its own economy and natural resources to service the debt. Debt-for-nature swaps may not adequately address the current $4 billion external debt. International financial support is also important for the institutional management of the protected areas. This aid can help ensure stability for the protected zone. Figure 6: External Debt of Costa Rica. This concept of additionality has been incorporated in several international agreements, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biodiversity, and Agenda (Jordan, 1994). Additionality refers to financial aid on top of or in addition to the aid that is currently received by the developing world to finance sustainable projects. Policy Recommendations - for Costa Rica The International Monetary Funds structural adjustment program requires Costa Rican government departments to reduce their staffs and budgets (Baker, 1995). This reduction of government is designed to improve both the macro- and micro- economic performance of the country. However, this reduction of government may adversely affect both conservation projects and social programs. The Costa Rican government should strive to maintain these programs, and not cut funding for the conservation areas, health care, and family planning during this period of structural adjustment. The social improvements of the last forty years should not be reversed. The government should look to other programs to eliminate. Costa Rica, like the rest of the Latin American countries, cannot sustain economic growth, improve the standard of living for the population and protect the environmental with the heavy weight of the countrys external debt. Therefore, the Costa Rican government should default on the external debt. Deforestation experienced today in Costa Rica results from a variety of local decisions. A strong regional planning system should be implemented to address local needs, economic growth, and environmental protection. This type of institution is absent in the sustainable development model. One type of planning agency that may work to reduce deforestation and improve the local economic situation is a watershed management planning unit. Watershed management uses the boundaries of hydrologic units to create the political boundaries of a planning institution. The watershed is managed as a holistic entity; land use decisions are made in the best interest of the entire drainage area. The drainage map of the country will serve as the basis for the construction of watershed management units. Each planning unit should have adequate funding, political authority, and local participation to ensure that development choices will not adversely affect the watershed. The ultimate success of any development scheme will depend upon the choices made at the local level. Finally, the creation of a Ministry of Forests or a Ministry of Natural Resources may help avoid potential conflict of interests within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Mines, and Energy. Conclusion The problem of tropical deforestation is a complicated one, so it must be anticipated that the solution will be equally complicated. One important key to reduction of deforestation is understanding all of the variables that contribute to the deforestation rate, and attempting to integrate these variables into the solution. Costa Rica is a poor country with a rich environment. The national government is pursuing economic growth that does not adversely affect the environment by creating a model for sustainable development, and should be applauded for these efforts. The model has many positive attributes, but, at this time, does not appear to adequately address the reasons for deforestation outside of the protected areas. Perhaps support from the donor international community and institutional reform will ultimately halt this deforestation.