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Costa Rica man reaches into tree leaves
Protect
and Restore Nature
2021 Winner

Republic of Costa Rica

Area of Impact:
Costa Rica
Nominated by:
United Nations Development Programme

In the 1990s, the vast forests of Costa Rica were devastated by unregulated exploitation. But Costa Rica’s government had a plan to save them.

Their Story

The results were extraordinary. By compensating Costa Ricans to plant trees and restore ecosystems, its forests doubled in size, flora and fauna thrived, leading to a boom in ecotourism that has injected $4billion to the economy. 

Since winning the 2021 Earthshot Prize to Protect and Restore Nature, Costa Rica continues to be a leader driving the global environmental agenda, signing an extension of its marine reserves into law which has increased its protected marine area from 3% of its ocean territory to the High Ambition Coalition target of 30%. 

This prompted the Bezos Earth Fund to provide additional grants totalling $30M to support organisations working in Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador and Panama to strengthen the Eastern Tropical Marine Corridor at the UN Oceans Conference.

The Earthshot Prize’s recognition of Costa Rica has driven significant global media coverage, celebrating the country as a ‘green leader’.

And in addition, through The Earthshot Prize, Costa Rica has been able to partner with fellow 2021 Finalist Restor who will track thousands of small payments for Ecoystem Services Reforestation Projects and the total new forest cover being achieved by Costa Rica. This will enable ever-smarter national policy decisions on reforestation, enhanced performance of the individual reforestation projects, and will empower Costa Rica to easily demonstrate its progress in meeting its COP26 reforestation pledge.

Their Impact So Far

Since becoming an Earthshot Prize Winner, Costa Rica continues to be an environmental leader.

USE OF PRIZE MONEY

The Earthshot Prize money is being used to restore and protect species in Cocos Island National Park, training and equipping park rangers to control invasive species. Some is also being used to design a new ‘payment for marine ecosystem services’ model, taking what has worked for forests and applying it to the marine areas that make up 92% of the national territory.

KEY MILESTONES

Since becoming an Earthshot Prize Winner, Costa Rica continues to be an environmental leader. It has signed an extension of its marine reserves into law and increased the protected marine area from 3 per cent to the High Ambition Coalition target of 30 per cent. This has been made possible through the expansion of Cocos Island National Park and the creation of a Bicentennial Marine Management Area, which is three times the size of Costa Rica’s land territory.

ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL IMPACT

The expanded Cocos Island National Park and its surrounding marine protected area will now cover almost 55,000 square kilometres, 26 times bigger than its previous size. In addition, the nearby Bicentennial Marine Management Area has expanded to 11 times its previous size, encompassing more than 106,000 square kilometres — roughly equivalent to the size of Iceland.

CONNECTIONS MADE

Through The Earthshot Prize, Costa Rica partnered with fellow 2021 Finalist Restor to track over 5,000 restoration and conservation projects, making it the first nation to publicly showcase its restoration and conservation projects on Restor’s platform.

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Read the 2024 Impact Report

Download our 2024 Impact Report and dive into the details of what our global community has achieved to date.

Connect With REPUBLIC OF COSTA RICA

Other 2021 Protect & Restore Nature Finalists

The Earthshot Prize