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Focus on Forests (text version)

The Osa National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica

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Cost Rica is very rich in plants and wildlife: it has over 8,000 different native plants. (The UK, which is five times bigger, has 1,443.) Costa Rica has already lost a great deal of its forest and about 3% of what is left disappears every year. This is the highest rate in Central America apart from El Salvador.

The Corcovado National Park is on the Osa Peninsular. Around it is the buffer zone, where an NGO called TUVA is working with the local landowners. These farmers need money but they don’t want to cut the forest to create extra farming land, nor do they want to sell the logging rights to a timber company because they depend on it for many non-timber forest products. Working as co-operatives, they take out trees which have fallen naturally. These are stripped of branches on site and cut into manageable blocks of wood. This means there is minimum damage to other trees when the wood is hauled out. Another advantage is that 60-70% of the tree is left to rot, providing nutrients for new plants and homes for small wildlife.

Water buffalo are used to haul the wood out and breeding centre has been set up, supported by WLT. Training and information for other local people are also offered here. The project is not all low-tech; the co-operatives use specialised monitoring and information systems to locate suitable trees and the farmers have solar panels and radio phones.Using water buffalo is safe, cheap and causes little damage as the buffalo can use narrow forest tracks – and they provide milk! photo of water buffalo hauling wood

The farmers get more money than they would get by allowing commercial companies in, local people get jobs – and the forest gets the FSC award! FSC logo

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This site is funded by DFID and has been produced by the World Land Trust.