Selected Case Studies from the Americas
Edited by Mohammed H.I. Dore and Rubén Guevara
Chapter 9: Forest policy in Costa Rica
9. Forest policy in Costa Rica1 Olman Segura-Bonilla INTRODUCTION In Costa Rica, as in other Central American countries, the forest has been irrationally exploited and, if the current style of management is not changed, the maintenance and recuperation of forest cover will be increasingly difﬁcult. According to several studies, as we will see below, it would be ideal if, in the future, Costa Rica could maintain and even expand its natural systems by means of policies that are clearly understood. In order to reach this goal, profound institutional and economic changes must be made in the society. The institutional changes refer to customs, routines, behaviour patterns and the way resources are used. The economic changes correspond to the creation of new systems of incentives and alliances for the forest sector as well as for the activities that have traditionally competed with the forest. The process of economic development establishes a legal and institutional environment which directs and inﬂuences land use, including forests.2 Several authors (such as Pasos, 1994; Segura, 1996) have pointed out that in Costa Rica the predominant search for economic growth, and particularly the increase in the export of farm products, has generated a pattern of agricultural development characterized by a strong dependence on energy input and on land which is not suitable for farming. Agricultural expansion into forest land and the use of inadequate production practices usually has caused the overexploitation of this type of land. Forest land was not valued adequately and the value...
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