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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 tropical forest and the abundant wildlife that reside here. Costa Rica has only .03 percent of the earth’s land, but it 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 forest 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 forests, aquifers, and the people and wildlife that depend on them at risk.

One reason for the increasingly hotter, drier dry season is the removal of trees by landowners who may not understand the local laws or the crucial role trees play in our eco-system. The canopy of the treetops 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. Tree removal even affects the stability of your property; removing trees on slopes can lead to soil instability, floods, and landslides! These are some of the reasons why many trees in Costa Rica are legally 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. An added bonus is that properties that attract wildlife add value to your home.

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 newcomers buy land in this this beautiful country in order to enjoy its natural surroundings and peaceful lifestyle, yet they remove the trees on their property without realizing the legality or the 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 encourage you to carefully consider 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 invite you to contemplate 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 the proper permits. You will also be helping to keep our aquifers full, our mountainsides stable, 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



  1. Trees increase the beauty and value of your property.
  2. Trees protect watersheds.
  3. Trees create cooler temperatures and mitigate the effects of the dry season.
  4. Trees prevent soil erosion, flooding and landslides.
  5. Trees provide habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species.
  6. Trees block noise from cars and roads.
  7. Trees absorb dust and pollutant particles.
  8. Trees conserve energy and help you save on your power bill.
  9. Trees combat climate change.
  10. Trees help mental health by providing beauty and a sense of tranquility.


  • To support Wild Sun Rescue Center, click here
  • To learn about or support local eco-sustainability projects and campaigns visit 
  • For expert forest pruning and maintenance, contact Molinos Verdes de Moringa,
  • To join WaterKeepers Alliance, here.
  • To visit the Karen Mogensen Reserve, also known as the Lungs of the Nicoya Peninsula, click here.
  • To learn about our local I.B. School, Futuro Verde, click here 

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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