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"ACG Shows the Way to the Present and the Future"


This pasture area is burned every year to remind us how ACG land used to look, before it was allowed to regenerate naturally. The 30-plus years of natural restoration surrounds it. Drone footage by Felipe Chavarría.

In a recent op-ed in the newspaper La Nación, Costa Rica Environment and Energy Minister Andrea Meza writes, “At the end of July, I visited Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG). Four decades ago, many of the lands that are protected today were cattle farms and agriculture, and their ecosystems were threatened. But nevertheless, the work started in the middle of the 1980s and transformed the landscape. A team led by the academics Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs, and dozens of Costa Rican specialists, bought underutilized land and returned it to nature. The dry forest expanded and reconnected to its brothers, the rain forest and cloud forest, in the mountains of the Orosi and Rincón volcanoes. During my visit to ACG, I saw the radical transformation of the place. ACG's success shows the way to the present and the future. Weathered soils, fragmented landscapes and ecosystems in danger require a focused deep regeneration in the five R's: reverse, restore, regenerate, recover and recommence.” Meza continues, noting that Costa Rica has experience with the first R, as the country reversed the rate of deforestation, and now enjoys the positive effects of that decision. The second R, restore degraded lands, she says, was achieved three decades ago in ACG. Now, she says, it is time to work harder on regenerating the country’s soils, water, and air and regain productivity of ecosystems and agricultural areas. And, she concludes, “We must resume our relationship with nature and make a stop along the way to reconsider our practices and lifestyle. We must start by putting nature and the well-being of people in the center of the development model. Just like that, we will have a better future. There is little time left.” A PDF of the article, in Spanish, is available here.

Another view of the restored land versus that which is burned yearly. Photo by Felipe Chavarría.