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A Letter to the Neighbors

How saving trees, saves our water

Information About Our Current Water Situation and How You Can Help


This beautiful letter was written by

Susan McMillan, President of Protect Our Waters Inc.

Dear New Neighbor,

Welcome to our beautiful town. If you are buying property in Costa Rica, then no doubt you appreciate the splendor of the rainforest and the abundant wildlife that reside here. Costa Rica has only .03 percent of the earth’s land, but is home to 4% of its species. The biodiversity here is unique, varied, and magnificent.

This part of the country is especially amazing. The Nicoya Peninsula is a Blue Zone, a part of the world where people live longer, healthier lives. The beauty of our natural environment plays a key role in the health and longevity of its people.

As you probably know, here we have two seasons: a rainy season and a dry season. The heavy rains of the wet season nourish the rainforest so that its trees and plants can survive the dry season and our aquifers can be replenished.

But lately our dry season have become drier and hotter, putting our rainforests, aquifers, and the people and wildlife that depend on them at risk.

One reason for the increasingly hotter, dryer dry season is the removal of trees by land owners who may not understand local laws or the crucial role trees plan in our eco-system . The canopy of the trees traps in the dampness of the jungle, forming an umbrella of moisture that affects the entire ecosystem, from temperature, to cloud cover, to precipitation. Removing trees on your lot has a direct impact on the temperature and comfort of your home, and an indirect impact on the climate and rainfall of the entire region. This is one of the reasons why many trees in Costas Rica are protected and require a permit to remove.

Additionally the trees on your property provide shade, food, and habitat for our local wildlife.

The population of numerous wonderful and exotic species are declining or in danger of extinction; and the number-one threat to most of Costa Rica's endangered species is habitat destruction. A prime example is the Scarlet Macaw, which once thrived throughout Costa Rica. These birds are a breathtaking rainbow of colors. They mate for life and can live to be 60 years old! We are fortunate to be home to Wild Sun Rescue, a nonprofit wildlife rescue center that is working to breed and reintroduce the Scarlet Macaws back to their natural habitat. Landowners can help by preserving, and even planting more trees on their property.

Traditionally, the homes built by local people have been constructed in harmony with the forest. Rather than removing trees to clear the way for a house and a view, indigenous people have built with respect for the trees on their property, disturbing as little of the natural land as possible. The peaceful quiet way of life, called “tranquilo,” has contributed to not only the health of the eco-system, the cooler temperatures, but the long-life of its residents as well.

But things are changing. Many foreigners buy land in this this beautiful country in order to enjoy its natural surroundings and peaceful lifestyle, yet remove the trees on their property without realizing the legality or vital role that those trees play in our fragile ecosystem and our overall well-being.

As your new neighbors and people who wish to keep this country healthy and this area a Blue Zone, we ask you to carefully consider, or even reconsider, your construction plans. If you have plans to clear or remove wooded areas on your lot to create a flat open space (as is typical in the US), we ask you to consider a building style inspired by the Costa Rican way. Nestle your new home amongst your trees and consider enjoying your jungle view and the close-up visits from monkeys, toucans, and other exotic birds your property’s habitat can provide. If you must remove trees, do so thoughtfully, sparingly, and of course with proper permits. You will also be helping to keep our aquifers full and our climate comfortable and livable.

We hope you will remember the things that make Costa Rica different from the country you left. Help keep this magnificent country healthy, green, diverse, and tranquilo.

Welcome to the Neighborhood.

Your neighbors


The following is a list approved by Wild Sun of trees to reforest with that will help build habitat for the Scarlet Macaws and other wildlife. And remember, planting new trees is good, but there is no substitute for the benefits mature trees provide.

It is best to preserve standing trees and then also plant new ones.

This is part of a new project between Green Wave and Protect Our Waters.

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