Nonprofits and grassroots environmental, forestry, conservation and indigenous groups have until May 5 to apply for funding through the U.S. funded Debt-for-Nature Program for Costa Rica, established in 2007.
According to Alvaro Herrera of the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio), the six Costa Rican areas eligible for funding are Osa, in the southwestern part of the country; La Amistad, near the southern Caribbean border with Panama; the northeastern region of Tortuguero; Maquenque, on the northern border with Nicaragua; the area north of northwestern Rincón de la Vieja Volcano ; and the Nicoya Peninsula, also in the country´s northwest Pacific region. Each of these areas is a conservation priority identified in the Zoning Plan for Biodiversity Conservation, or GRUAS II (www.gruas.go.cr).
A seven-person committee, including representatives from Conservation International, Costa Rica´s National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), EARTH University, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Embassy, is overseeing the initiative. INBio is responsible for the administration of the project, which is expected to provide more than $26 million for conservation efforts over the next 16 years.
According to Herrera, proposals will be judged on their viability and strength, as well as on the organization´s experience. They can focus on a range of activities, including environmental education, development and management of private and community reserves, deterrence of poaching, forest restoration, organizational growth and applied research, among others. Guidelines can be found at the program´s website: www.canjeusacr.org