With over 25 percent of its land set aside in national parks and other protected areas, Costa Rica is renowned worldwide as "the green republic." In this very readable history of conservation in Costa Rica, Sterling Evans explores the establishment of the country's national park system as a response to the rapid destruction of its tropical ecosystems due to the expansion of export-related agriculture.
Drawing on interviews with key players in the conservation movement, as well as archival research, Evans traces the emergence of a conservation ethic among Costa Ricans and the tangible forms it has taken. In Part I, he describes the development of the national park system and "the grand contradiction" that conservation occurred simultaneously with massive deforestation in unprotected areas. In Part II, he examines other aspects of Costa Rica's conservation experience, including the important roles played by environmental education and nongovernmental organizations, campesino and indigenous movements, ecotourism, and the work of the National Biodiversity Institute.