The University of Georgia Costa Rica 2014-2015 Sustainability Report UGA Costa Rica 2014 - 2015 Sustainability Report - Page 10

Introduction 60% 60 percent of the UGA Costa Rica campus is protected forest land. Costa Rica is a story of a remarkable turnaround in the attitude it has taken towards its relationship with the natural environment. According to The Happy Planet Index (HPI), Costa Rica is ranked number 1 out of 151 countries worldwide as the country with the highest environmental efficiency in supporting the well-being of its inhabitants. The HPI is calculated by aggregating perceived quality of life, life expectancy, and environmental footprint. However, this relatively small country has not always been regarded so highly. Prior to 1940, 75% of the country was forested. By the late 1990’s, logging and agricultural expansion reduced forested areas to less than 29% as Costa Rica experienced one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation. Today, however, 10 University of Georgia Costa Rica the picture is significantly different. Located on the Central American isthmus, Costa Rica connects North and South America and borders both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Due to its unique geographical location, Costa Rica contains impressive social and biological diversity relative to its size of just 51,000 km². Ranging from coastal plains to rugged mountains and volcanoes, Costa Rica possesses around a fifth of the world’s biodiversity, including 1,239 species of butterflies, 232 species of mammals, 838 species of birds, 160 species of amphibians, 218 species of reptiles, and 1,013 species of salt and freshwater fish. With great biodiversity comes great responsibility. The country is noted for its national park 25% of the total land in Costa Rica has been designated as a national park or is privately owned as a preserve. system, administered by SINAC (Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion, or National System of Conservation Areas), which oversees the 26 national parks and over 160 protected areas in Costa Rica. Approximately 25% of the total land in Costa Rica has been designated as a national park or is privately owned as a reserve, revealing the commitment Costa Rica has