Path of the Tapir: Integrating Biological Corridors, Ecosystem Management, and Socioeconomic Development in Costa Rica

Quint Newcomer
Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 210 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511

To address crises of ecosystem degradation and poverty in the central-southern Pacific coastal
region of Costa Rica, communities must cooperatively define problems, goals, and strategies. The
Path of the Tapir Program is not only about sustainable development for this region, but also serves
as a model for the regional Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Initiative. This paper explores the
case from a policy sciences perspective to reveal strengths and gaps in processes that might hinder
program success. This case provides lessons that are useful in many settings within Mesoamerica
by identifying shortcomings in decision making and methods to address them and illustrating how
local leadership and involvement can help program managers identify diverse perspectives, values,
and strategies of those who participate in or are directly affected by a selected program. In this
way, managers can learn to avert social conflict and, in some instances, leverage conflict for constructive
progress toward program goals.