Costa Rica – a Dark Brew

Water management in Costa Rica is crucial in maintaining the country’s valuable eco-tourism industry and vital cash crops. But it is struggling through an undergrowth of fragmented responsibilities and competing interests.

In a demonstration of devotion to the environment that is probably unsurpassed in the world, the people of Costa Rica have assigned a quarter of their land as biological reserves or as and national parks. Few would fail to understand why they do this: in a country that’s about twice the size of Wales you can witness plants and animals that astonish with their number, variety and beauty. This strand of the isthmus between the two Americas, lapped by the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, is home to 5% of the planet’s biodiversity.

And the delight this nation’s wildlife invokes is providing just rewards to its people for their friendliness to the environment in the shape of ecotourism. Visitors seeking to be uplifted by Costa Rica’s natural assets number more than 2 million every year and provide more than 5% of the country’s GDP – outranking coffee, bananas and pineapples.

Yet not all in this paradise is quite as it seems.

The ecosystems, and the people who rely on their eco-tourist attractions, are under persistent threats associated mainly with legal and illegal deforestation and contamination of freshwater sources.

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Thomas Swinscoe

Thomas is a water resource researcher and analyst.

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