What is the Osa Campaign?
In the early 1970s, a group of tropical biologists working on the Osa Peninsula waged a campaign to create a national park to protect what they realized was a place of global importance. With swift action by the Costa Rican National Park Service and help from The Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups, Corcovado National Park was created in 1975. Now encompassing one-third of the peninsula, Corcovado is the crown jewel in Costa Rica’s park system. However, scarce resources have created significant management challenges for the park, and the park’s few rangers are unable to curb illegal activities such as poaching, mining and illegal fishing.
Across the gulf from Corcovado, conservationists later targeted a second expanse of prime lowland rainforest on the mainland. If protected, this tract would complement the forests already conserved on the peninsula and provide additional habitat for wildlife. In 1991, the Costa Rican government established Piedras Blancas National Park with the hope of eventually connecting it with Corcovado to create a contiguous wilderness to ensure the preservation of biodiversity. But today almost half the lands within the park remain in private hands, still awaiting purchase by the government. Meanwhile, to the north, the Térraba-Sierpe national wetland was declared in 1994 to protect the largest mangrove forest on the Pacific coast of Central America.
The lands between these three “anchors,” called the Osa Biological Corridor, represent the critical connection that holds the key to the Osa’s future.
Only with a secure linkage can the present levels of biodiversity—including large mammals such as jaguar, puma, peccaries and tapir—survive, as growing geographic isolation limits genetic exchanges among different populations. Almost all of the land in the Corridor is in private hands, and many landholders rely on its natural resources for their livelihoods. Without taking into consideration the needs of these families and individuals, conservation success will not be sustainable.
Biologists are also discovering that the Osa’s ocean environments are as unique and valuable as those on land, and conservationists are working to ensure that they are quickly and sufficiently protected.
While land-based conservation efforts have been under way for a quarter of a century, relatively little attention has been paid to protecting marine resources. Meanwhile, rapid tourism development and escalating pressure on marine populations by both commercial and sport fishing fleets is seriously threatening the ecological balance of the Golfo Dulce and the seas around the Osa.
Objectives & Activites
- Protect biodiversity in the Osa’s parks, wildlife refuges, wetlands and forest reserves by improving management practices and buying private lands within the parks.
- Connect key natural areas through a “biological corridor” between Corcovado and Piedras Blancas National Parks and the Terraba-Sierpe National Wetland.
- Establish the first comprehensive protection program for marine and coastal resources in the Osa.
- Build the capacity of local organizations and communities to sustain conservation successes.
In all of our initiatives, we work with local organizations to ensure that all programs emphasize inclusion, participation, and sustainability.
The model is an appropriate planning tool for creating management and administration capacity, and project monitoring and evaluation, while building upon its long term financial sustainability.
It is an opportunity to address issues related to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, land degradation, and management of marine and coastal resources through a programmatic approach and within the context of sustainability.
The OCTF will define the niche of an integrated mechanism, and a tool to ensure the success of conservation efforts in Globally Significant Biodiversity in the Osa Peninsula, in Costa Rica.