The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an organization dedicated to protecting wildlife and wild places, named Costa Rica as the first whole country to receive its Natural Biogem Award.
Chosen along with 12 other regions, Costa Rica was honored for its commitment to protecting the more than the 500,000 species of flora and fauna which inhabit the country and for its goal to become the first carbon neutral country by 2021. This recognition comes as no surprise due to the pioneering move the country made in 1979 to declare 25 percent of the country’s territory as environmentally protected areas. Costa Rica is one of the most pristine places on Earth, holding 4 percent of the world’s biodiversity and 3.5 percent of the world’s marine life. The environment is showcased by over 28 national parks, reserves and wild refuges. Costa Rica committed to becoming the first carbon neutral country by the year 2021. Taking the lead in the plan is the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST), set in motion by the Costa Rica Tourist Board (ICT). Established in 1999, the CST program aims to promote sustainable initiatives within its tourist industry by certifying them for the implementation of sustainable actions within their business model. The certification rating, based on a five-leaf status, recognizes actions implemented on behalf of the operator on natural, cultural and social levels. Today, there are 99 companies that are certified and it is recognized by the international community as the model for successful and sustainable tourism.
Costa Rica is working with the NRDC and local environmental organizations, such as the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), to reforest areas around the country. One example is the “Revive a Rainforest” campaign which aims to sow 20,000 trees in the Turrialba region in order to revive a bare field that once was home of monkeys, toucans and other animals. Costa Rica is in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama, and bordered on the east by the Caribbean Sea and the west by the Pacific Ocean.
SOURCE: Original article published by TravelPulse.com on February 27, 2009
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