Forest Restoration in Costa Rica

Case Summary: 

As a result of crop production, cattle grazing and road development, Costa Rica’s forestland decreased from 77% to 41% of the country’s land area from 1943–1986. To address this challenge, the Government of Costa Rica and key partners implemented several notable actions including approaches to enable payments for environmental services and other policy reforms. Highlighted below are several actions and good practices profiled in this case study that supported forest restoration in Costa Rica.

  • Development of an enabling policy environment that secured land titles for farmers and incentivized restoration. Previously, tenure encouraged farmers to remove forest cover in order to claim land ownership. With the recent policy changes, tenure granted farmers the opportunity to receive payments for environmental services.
  • Improved institutional coordination as a result of merging subdivisions of the Ministry of Environment facilitated implementation of land use actions.
  • Local restoration practitioners provided training and technical support to local communities (via associations) on forest management and conservation to enable long term positive outcomes.
  • Financial incentives funded by a dedicated fossil fuel tax and other fees allowed for implementation of payments for environmental services.
  • Research institutions disseminated knowledge and supported outreach on the topic of sustainable land management.
  • Implementation of feedback and monitoring systems to facilitate improved performance of conservation and restoration projects over time.
Costa Rica
Latin America and Caribbean
Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Monitoring and Evaluation
Sectors and Themes 
World Resources Institute (WRI)
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