Costa Rica

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Seventh Step in Costa Rica - curated by Alessandra Piatti - from 23rd February to 3rd March 2013

The systematic tampering with landscapes all over the earth, and the consequent ecological and aesthetic decay, cause the irreparable loss of the symbolic values embedded in the landscapes themselves” (Arenzano Manifesto's ninth Thesis)

Costa Rica holds the worldwide first for the proportion of its overall territory that is protected areas: a total of almost 27%, including 26 national parks, 9 biological reserves, 32 protected zones, 11 forest reserves, 58 animal refuges and 15 wetlands. It is an internationally recognized ecological reference point. As well, in 1949, it was one of the first country in the world to abolish its army. Costa Rica holds first position among Latin American countries in the Environmental Performance Index, and fifth place worldwide. It is home to more than 5% of the planet’s biodiversity. It ranks third at an international level for clean air. Since 1992 it has been the international headquarters of the Earth Council as well as headquarters of the Inter- American Court of Human Rights, and the United Nations University of Peace. The government aims to be the world’s first “carbon neutral” country by 2021: in other words to have zero balance between the emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutant gases, and the planet’s absorption of that CO2. Ninetyfive per cent of Costa Rica’s electricity is already produced from renewable sources.

In Costa Rica Rebecca has investigated the theme of the tropical forest. Forests only cover 6% of the earth’s surface, but they host more that 70% of the planet’s living species, compared to its original extent, 50% of the world’s forests have been lost – most of this in the last 30 years.  During her stay in Costa Rica Rebecca has documented four different parks: Palo Verde National Park, Arenal National Park, Area de Conservation de Guanacaste, and Corcovado National Park. 

Palo Verde National Park on the banks of the Rio Tempisque is one of the best wildlife and bird watching spots in Costa Rica. It is also important for protecting one of the last significant remnants of the deciduous dry forest of the Neotropics. The total of protected areas in the Tempisque river basin encompasses 73.000 ectares and presents 15 different habitats thus being one of the Cosat Rica's most biological diverse sites. Palo Verde harbours Costa Rica's largest population of jaguarundis, 55 species of reptiles and amphibians (the largest concentration in Costa Rica), and 75 species of mammals. 

Arenal National Park has the most active volcano in the country. Primary cloud forest and rainforest cover Arenal National Park, which abounds with flora and fauna species in multiple life zones, innumerable rivers, waterfalls and thermal hot springs. The park also contains a second volcano, Chato , whose crater contains a lagoon. The park lies within the 2,040 square kilometres, protecting eight of Costa Rica's 12 life zones and 16 protected reserves in the region between the Guanacaste and Tilarán mountain ranges, and including Lake Arenal.

Area de Conservation de Guanacaste consists of four of the five main tropical eco-systems: marine/coastal, dry forest, foggy forest and rain forest and these are all inter-related. It represents the new world’s only preserved area of this type. In this bio-geographic block, which makes up 2% of Costa Rica’s total area, there are 335,000 species of land organism, equal to 2.6% of the world’s biodiversity. This is one of the reasons why it was declared part of the Unesco World Heritage in 1999.

Corcovado National Park is a National Park in the Osa Peninsula in south western Costa Rica, which is part of the Osa Conservation Area. It encompasses an area of 425 km² . It is widely considered the crown jewel in the extensive system of national parks and biological reserves spread across the country. The ecological variety is quite stunning. National Geographic has called the Corcovado National Park as "the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity". The park conserves the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline and one of the few remaining sizeable areas of lowland tropical rainforest in the world.