John Quam Editor in Chief Howler Magazine Costa Rica

July & August 2019 Howler Magazine Editorial.  Trees Are Life: I love trees and so does Costa Rica.   Mid-May begins the green season here in Costa Rica. It is probably most noticeable in the northwest part of Guanacaste, which is known for being the driest area of the country overall.

This is one of the most beautiful times of the year. With the first signs of humidity in the air, the foliage starts to pop. The change is seemingly instant. Within a couple days of first spotting hints of green on the brown limbs and brush, leaves are unfolding on their branches into full cover. July and August tend to dry a little, but the green foliage remains in anticipation of the usually wettest months of September through November. It’s a wonderful time of the year to travel.

I love trees and so does Costa Rica. They not only help rid our world of carbon dioxide but also provide shade, homes for many birds and animals, and eventually wood for products that we use. Costa Rica has reforested. This new growth represents life, and here life abounds and is valued.

Costa Rica protects its trees as it does many natural resources. The country’s Ministry of the Environment, known as MINAE, is charged with the important responsibility of forest conservation. It is illegal to just start clearing trees from land. Some developers see this as a hindrance to expansion. But the reality is that it is positive and progressive in actually making the land more valuable.

This is consistent with environmental protection in Costa Rica being very advanced compared to many other places in the world. Tree conservation and reforestation are encouraged through the government’s provision of environmental grants to participating landowners. After devastating losses of forests in previous decades of the 20th century, the country’s reforestation efforts have been very successful. It is wonderful to drive along and look out over the vast forested areas, just imagining what they harbor in the way of wildlife and unexplored frontiers.

Another promising initiative involves carbon offsets in the form of protected reserves and forests in Costa Rica, being sold as shares to companies. These offset commitments are an assurance that these parcels of treed land will never be developed. It’s one response to the critical need to replace the negative output of carbon produced globally in the form of positive carbon credits.

These carbon offsets have been one of the driving forces in Costa Rica’s forest conservation measures. Many groups recognize the need and are getting involved. In addition to the reforestation benefits, Costa Rica’s efforts are taking a high profile on the world stage.

And it’s the right thing to do. While Costa Rica’s progress towards its carbon neutrality goal has been widely publicized lately, many do not realize this plan was implemented in 1997 before it was popular. Such an important achievement only augments this country’s status as a top tourist destination. Costa Rica consistently ranks in the top five ecologically conscious countries in the world.

In your travels, take a moment to look at the vast green landscape around you. Let your imagination run deep into the forests, where the trees provide life in so many wonderful forms.