Costa Rican Consolidation of Biological Reserves Project Added to the U.S. Initiative on Joint Implementation

Washington, D.C.  July 28, 1997 - A project to consolidate and legally protect national parks and biological reserves in Costa Rica was recently approved by the U.S. Initiative on Joint Implementation (USIJI).  The project breaks significant new ground with its innovative financing approach, size of more than 500,000 hectares and national scale, and monitoring, verification and guarantee provisions.  The USIJI pilot program encourages the U.S. private sector to use its resources and innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote development worldwide.  USIJI encourages partnerships between businesses and private organizations in the United States and those in developing and transitional countries, offering the potential to achieve greater and more cost-effective emission reductions that would be possible with each country acting alone.  USIJI has approved 26 projects in 11 countries.

Joint Implementation is currently in a pilot phase under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The treaty's ongoing negotiations on binding emissions limits for industrial nations will culminate in December of this year in Kyoto, Japan.

Carbon Sequestration through Costa Rican Territorial & Financial Consolidation of Biological Reserves Project.      

Using an innovative market mechanism, the project intends to purchase threatened park lands from private owners and non-governmental organizations and transfer them to the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) for permanent protection.  Tropical deforestation will be avoided and carbon sequestration from natural growth will increase in secondary forests and pasture lands converted to protected areas.  In a step forward for USIJI, the project will generate funds to purchase these lands from the sale of "Certifiable Tradable Offsets" (CTOs) or ‘carbon bonds.'  Each CTO will represent a third party certification of 1,000 tons of carbon the project sequestered the previous year.  Detailed monitoring and verification of the project's increased carbon sequestration, as well as the original baseline, will be conducted by an experienced commodity trade monitoring firm – two more firsts for USIJI.  The Costa Rican government will guarantee the CTOs fro 20 years.  World Bank funding will help support the monitoring and insurance for the CTOs.

The proposal was developed to increase protection of Costa Rica's biodiversity – the vast majority of which is present in the country's National Parks and Biological Reserves and represents a significant share of the world's total biodiversity.  Although the specific sites to be purchased were previously declared National Parks or Biological Reserves, the Costa Rican Government does not have the financial resources to purchase the titles to the lands to ensure their permanent protection.  A prominent Costa Rican commission report found that only 5.4% of the country's total protected areas were guaranteed protection through government ownership and conservation management.  The project participants estimate that more than 15.6 million metric tons of carbon will be sequestered on 530,498 hectares over the 25-year project life.  A surplus of 15% of the carbon sequestered would be maintained to guarantee the CTOs sold.

Project Partners: Florida based Earth Council Foundation-U.S.; Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy; Costa Rican National Parks Foundation; and Earth council Foundation-Costa Rica.

For more information, media may contact Amber Jones, 202-586-5806.  Business and other organizations may contact USIJI at 202-586-3423.