A Vision of Costa Rica

A Vision of Costa Rica


THE PRESIDENT OF COSTA RICA, Jose Maria Figueres, presented the Fifth Kew Environmental Lecture on 9 March 1995. Costa Rica contains an estimated 5% of the world's biodiversity and has more protected territory (24%) than any other country. In his lecture on 'The Conservation Programme of Costa Rica', President Figueres spoke of his country's continued commitment to environmental action; indeed, he wanted Costa Rica to become a 'pilot project of sustainable development'. The President identified three cornerstones of sustainable development: strategic social investment, maintaining a mocroeconomic balance, and an 'intelligent, strategic alliance with nature'. He outlined work that had begun on the conservotion programme:

  • A land use plan allowed for 40% of the country to be protected as national parks and reserves'biodiversity factories' with potential for education and revenue from ecotourism .
  • Farmers were being encouraged to plant commercial tree crops on land degraded by agriculture and to form traditional crops in a sustainable way.
  • Research was underway to catalogue the country's biodiversity and explore its commercial development.
  • Education curricula now included environmental issues to produce a 'bioliterate' population .
  • Government controls on the free market, in the form of financial incentives and taxes, were in place to promote energy and resource conservation, and to reduce pollution.President Figueres invited other countries to become involved in this pilot project through joint implementation programmes under both the Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions, and integration into world markets. He concluded his lecture by urging the international community to make regional funds available for sustainable development and to add environmental markers to economic and social indicators of advancement.

Left: President Figueres speaking at Kew on Costa Rica's pilot project of sustainable development.
Right: The president being shown Kew's Alpine collection by the director.


Planting of Inga as a commercial agroforestry crop is being assessed in Costa Rica as part of a Kew/ODA initiative.

Trials of Inga oerstediana in Costa Rica.

Kew and the British Technology Group are working with the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad in Costa Rica to extract an alkaloid from a native legume for potential development as a commercial nematicide.


Minister Visits Kew

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Rt. Hon. Wil!iam Waldegrave MP, visited Kew on 11 January 1995. Accompanied by the Chairman of the Kew Trustees (Robin Herbert) and the Director (Prof. Ghillean Prance), he toured the Herbarium, the Princess of Wales Conservatory, the Jodrell Laboratory, and the Science Support, Herbaceous and Alpine Units in the Melon Yard. He met many staff working on Kew's science programmes.

William Waldegrave MP


Back to Home Page