costa rica national parks reserves in costa rica
The protection of Costa Rica's natural heritage is managed by the respective national parks and reserves. These areas protect many species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fresh and salt water fish, and a vast number of identified vascular plants-representing 4% of the world's total floral and faunal species.
In addition, these management groups protect examples of almost all the existing natural habitats such as deciduous forests, mangrove swamps, rain forests, herbaceous swamps, cloud forests, paramos, hilillo forests and marshlands. They also protect areas of historical and archaeological interest, such as pre-Columbian settlements and early battlefields, as well as beautiful areas of scenic interest, such as beaches, valleys and waterfalls. But above all, the areas of particular interest to the conservationist are the zones which protect the last remaining examples of Central American dry forest and the beaches where the sea turtles nest.
The Costa Rica Tourist Board (ICT), as the entity in charge of tourist activities, has assumed the task of seeing that tourism directly contributes to conservation. To achieve this goal, ICT cooperates with other State institutions such as the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines (MIRENEM)-whose National Parks Service manages 20 national parks, 8 biological reserves and a national monument. In addition, the Forestry Service has responsibility for 27 protected areas and 9 forest reserves while the Wildlife Office manages 9 wildlife refuges. The 74 units, covering an area 1,154,945 hectares, represent 25% of the national territory (as of August, 1993), which means that Costa Rica has a larger percentage of its total area set aside in parks and preserves than any other country on Earth.
The protection of Costa Rica's natural resources has implications beyond its borders because they encompass an incredible biodiversity, including numerous species on the verge of extinction. All of this is the reason the country has become one of the most popular destinations for visiting ecologists and biologists.
On the whole, access to these areas and facilities are freely available provided the visitor respects the need to protect them. These protected areas are ideal for hiking and rafting, for watching the birds and other wildlife, for camping and just for enjoying in general, their rivers, beaches, jungles, mountain forests, volcanoes as well as their historic and archaeological sites.