A Sustainable Solution – Environmental Tax to Maintain Forests in Costa Rica – Costa Rica


A Sustainable Solution Costa Rica is the only tropical country in the world to consistently reduce illegal logging over the last 20 years. Indigenous peoples have lead this remarkable transformation. For the attention of the Cabécar Association, this letter is to inform you I have donated two fallen trees to my neighbor the trees damaged his banana crop, I hope this donation helps cover the loss. The letters are from local people, which are handled through the association. They are requests for felling standing trees or the use of trees that have fallen naturally. When the permits are ready I go to the field to conduct the marking. We mark the tree with paint and record its diameter and height. This control is very important and we keep a record so we know what people have which permit. A tree that is cut with no markings is illegal. If people arrived and cut everything then this would not be conserving nature. Communities are supported in their work by a government program called Payment for Environmental Services (PSA) The PSA is a government program using a tax charged on all fuels. This gives an incentive for forest owners to maintain standing forest and we include certain areas of our forest to the program. This has contributed to the territories, for example in my community, it brings in roughly $235,000 a year. The board has invested resources in building schools and colleges. From the money we can purchase food, we can contribute to health care expenses and the costs of education. Today there are between 300-400 new houses built in the territory. So we see the State’s money has been invested well, it’s not in vain and it is benefiting the population. Despite this Costa Rican indigenous land continues to be threatened by large corporations. The land that belonged to the indigenous had become the prey to outsiders. This became the land of the company of the banana. The effect of the interests of transnational corporations, the effect from the search for mineral resources. The impact is always felt here in the communities and this pressure experienced by indigenous peoples is constant. We do not agree with extraction through mining, oil, dams or any others. Our vision is to recover some of that, which is held by non-indigenous. The association started in 1997 with an area of three hundred acres up to 2009 we have reclaimed approximately 4,200 hectares. Families who had little or no land to grow food to produce an income now have their own land and produce their own food, already they are restoring pasture back to forest. The most important change is that the land is now ours, it was divided before, now it belongs to our own people. We have a relationship with nature. And for us you do not harm nature, you live with it. Now there are many changes there is hope that more young people are taking up the culture, they are thinking about defending this. We are a seed that was born here and grew up here. It is like watching a plant that you see being born, it is original and it belongs only there. You can see the water, you can see the woods, you can see the land and it looks good, right? And little by little we will continue recovering more of our land.

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