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Integrity and Isolation of Costa Rica’s National Parks and Biological Reserves: examining the dynamics of land-cover change

G. Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, Gretchen C. Daily, Alexander Pfaff, Christopher Busch
Biological Conservation 109 (2003) 123–135

PDF link iconThe transformation and degradation of tropical forest is thought to be the primary driving force in the loss of biodiversity worldwide. Developing countries are trying to counter act this massive lost of biodiversity by implementing national parks and biological reserves. Costa Rica is no exception to this rule. National development strategies in Costa Rica, since the early 1970s, have involved the creation of several National Parks and Biological Reserves. This has led to monitoring the integrity of and interactions between these protected areas. Key questions include: ‘‘Are these areas’ boundaries respected?’’; ‘‘Do they create a functioning network?’’; and ‘‘Are they effective conservation tools?’’. This paper quantifies deforestation and secondary growth trends within and around protected areas between 1960 and 1997. We find that inside of national parks and biological reserves, deforestation rates were negligible. For areas outside of National Parks and Biological reserves we report that for 1-km buffer zones around such protected areas, there is a net forest gain for the 1987/1997 time period. Thus, it appears that to this point the boundaries of protected areas are respected. However, in the 10-km buffer zones we find significant forest loss for all study periods. This suggests that increasing isolation of protected areas may prevent them from functioning as an effective network.