The Agua y Paz Biosphere Reserve is the latest feather in Costa Rica’s conservation cap, according to a statement released by the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The expansive 916,120-hectare area, covering the northern part of the country, includes LakeArenal, Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge and parts of the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge.
Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems designated through joint efforts by a country, conservation groups and UNESCO that encourage innovative and demonstrative approaches to conservation and sustainable development.
The Agua y Paz reserve includes core protected areas such as Caño Negro, a Ramsar-Convention-designated wetland of international importance, a buffer zone around such areas, and a transition zone where sustainable practices, including agriculture and tourism, are encouraged.
According to the statement, the Agua y Paz Reserve is critical habitat for rare species such as jaguars and manatees, as well as plant species found in raffia palm bogs.
The region will also serve as a biological corridor between the expansive Indio-Maiz Biosphere Reserve to the north of the San Juan River, in Nicaragua, and Costa Rica’s Central Volcanic Mountain Range Biosphere Reserve, to the south, and La Amistad, a biosphere reserve near the Panama border, and the country’s first, nominated in 1982.