The U.S. government Wednesday swapped $12.6 million of Costa Rica’s debt for spending on conservation of biodiversity and protected areas in the country.
Combined with matching gifts of $2.5 million from global environmental groups The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, plus interest paid by the Costa Rican Central Bank, the country will benefit from a total of $26.1 million.
The agreement “represents a renewal of U.S. cooperation with Costa Rica,” said Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno, and “reinforces the country’s commitment to conservation and its rich natural resources.”
The funds will be managed by a commission made up of a representative from each country, the two environmental groups involved, and a yet-to-be-named national nonprofit, Stagno said.
Priority areas for conservation work include the Osa Peninsula and La Amistad National Park, in the Southern Zone; Tortuguero National Park, on the northern Caribbean coast; Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge, near the Nicaraguan border; and Rincón de la Vieja National Park, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, according to Environment Minister Roberto Dobles.
Earlier in the week, the Ministry of Energy and Environment (MINAE) unveiled GRUAS II, an innovative biodiversity-mapping initiative that will help the country prioritize conservation areas to be protected by the “debt for nature” funds.