Costa Rica celebrates World Environment Day by creating its 29th national park
Costa Rica has been ranked among the top five nations in the world for environmental performance, and it’s been said that no other tropical country on the planet has made such a concerted effort to protect its natural ecosystems, so it seems fitting that the nation decided to use the recent World Environment Day to announce the creation of its 29th national park.
Located 15km from the town of Bagaces, the new 43-square-kilometre park surrounds the dormant, but geothermally active Volcán Miravalles (2028m). It has been aptly named Miravalles National Park, and will not only protect endangered species such as the Central American tapir (known locally as danta), but also important endemic plants and key water sources.
The announcement was made at a ceremony held at the National Museum, where President Carlos Alvarado signed the necessary decree. Prior to this important change, the area was only afforded a modicum of protection as part of the Zona Protectora Miravalles.
The national park system began in the 1960s, and has since been expanded into the Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservación (National System of Conservation Areas), with an astounding 187 protected areas covering more than a quarter of the country’s landmass. These conservation areas include the 29 national parks, as well as 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 11 forest reserves and eight biological reserves.
At the same ceremony it was also announced that the Education Ministry had come to an agreement with the Environment and Energy Ministry to promote the country’s goals of conservation and sustainability to Costa Rica’s students. Impressively, Costa Rica is pushing towards being entirely carbon neutral by 2021, and it regularly produces 100% of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind, geothermal activity and hydro.
It is not known what facilities will exist for visitors to the new national park, but the thermal hot springs north of the village of La Fortuna de Bagaces (just south of Volcán Miravalles) will continue to be a draw.
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