Learning From Ecological Restoration in Costa Rica

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By Sergio Lozano and Marlon Webbers, Mountain Restoration Stewards in Colombia (2022) and Costa Rica (2021), respectively.

‘Pure Life’ were the words Marlon greeted me with when I arrived in Costa Rica on 20 May. As environmentalists, we always see the country of ‘Pure Life’ (‘Pura Vida’, Costa Rica’s slogan) as a reference and a model to follow in conservation issues. Its programme of Payments for Ecological Services (Pagos por Servicios Ambientales), its Natural System of Protected Areas (Sistema de Natural de Áreas Protegidas) and its agroforestry models are an example worldwide. Forests cover 52% of Costa Rica’s territory, along with 125 protected wild areas.

Left to right: Sergio Lozano and Marlon Webber, Mountain Restoration Stewards, a programme led by the Youth Initiative for Landscapes (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF).

I was fortunate enough to visit one of these protected areas, the Irazú Volcano National Park, where you can see the volcano’s crater at an elevation of 3,432 metres above sea level.

Volcano crater in Irazú Volcano National Park, Costa Rica.

However, ‘all that glitters is not gold.’ Thanks to Marlon, I learned about the environmental issues his country faces. The expansion of pineapple cultivation is one of the main ones affecting rural communities in various ways. These crops cover 57,327 hectares, according to satellite images from Costa Rica’s Monitoreo de Cambio de Uso en Paisajes Productivos (MOCUPP – Monitoring of Change of Use in Productive Landscapes), 2015-2016.

These images give an idea of the lack of control over pineapple plantations. For example, they detected that these crops were invading 1,659 hectares belonging to four protected areas. The government had granted permits for only 358.5 hectares in two of these areas, according to Mongabay Latam (Spanish). How can this happen? Apparently, no one knows.

During Diwo’s activities in the Brunca Region, Costa Rica.

Marlon Webber (Restoration Steward 2021) has been working extensively with his NGO Diwo to confront landscape transformations and environmental challenges in Costa Rica. Meanwhile, Sergio Lozano (Restoration Steward 2022) is part of the organisation PUR Projet, where he coordinates and develops models of ecological restoration and agroforestry in Colombia. At this point, the worlds of two mountain restoration stewards come together and initiate an exchange of knowledge to combat climate change. As an illustration of this exchange, we would like to mention the workshop developed by PUR Projet, in which Diwo’s experience was successfully shared with 19 professionals of different nationalities (i.e., Peru, France and Colombia).

Diwo shares their experience with PUR Project Latin America. 

Getting to know each other and exchanging experiences has been very enriching. We hope to meet other Restoration Stewards soon and visit their projects. The next Restoration Stewards are more than welcome to Colombia and Costa Rica to exchange knowledge about ecological restoration.

A warm farewell from two Mountain Restoration Stewards. (Left, Marlon Webber, Right, Sergio Lozano).

See you soon!

Sergio and Marlon

Sergio Esteban Lozano Baez

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Supporting partners

Under the banner of Generation Restoration, the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) launched the Restoration Stewards program in 2020 to support and highlight the work of six young restoration practitioners and their teams, dubbed ‘Restoration Stewards’. The year-long program provides funding, mentorship, and training to deepen the impact of these projects.
In 2021, the Restoration Stewards and their teams will be supported to further develop their project and will become ambassadors at both global and local levels. Globally, the Restoration Stewards will share their journey in a series of vlogs and blogs documenting their stories of inspiration and challenges. Locally, they will spark a restoration movement, creating pathways to connect, share, learn, and act for more sustainable landscapes.