One Redditor recently shared incredible satellite images of Costa Rica showing how the country’s forests have recovered in the last four decades.
Like many countries over the last century, Costa Rica suffered from severe deforestation. According to Earth.org, the country had lost almost half its forest cover by 1987. Loggers harvested trees for lumber, and farmers took over to grow crops and raise livestock.
But the devastating effects of deforestation spurred the Costa Rican government to action, Earth.org reported. A law was passed in 1996, making it illegal to clear forests without a permit, and the government began paying residents to protect the forest instead of cutting it down.
The results are clearly visible in the satellite photos shared on r/geography in April. Four gifs show Costa Rica’s various regions, rotating between photos from 1987, 2000, and 2015, according to the original poster.
“For all images, the least green is 1987, then 2000, and the most green is 2015,” they said.
These gorgeous green forests are one of Costa Rica’s main attractions, Earth.org reported. Every year, the country draws thousands of tourists who come to see the incredible environment. The money from tourism supports 200,000 people and helps pay for the country’s conservation efforts.
Patricia Madrigal-Cordero, former vice-minister for the environment, told Earth.org, “People come to see the mountains, the nature, the forests, and when they are stunned by a monkey or a sloth in the tree, communities realize what they have here, and they realize they should care for it.”
Caring for the forests of Costa Rica is caring for the whole planet. Dense rainforests, like the ones in Costa Rica and the Amazon, have been called “the lungs of the planet” because of the way they remove heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release breathable oxygen in its place.
The trees also draw up water from deep underground and let it evaporate into the air, increasing rainfall throughout the region that waters other plants. Cutting down the rainforest would damage the entire environment that people depend on.
Costa Rica’s success in restoring its forests offers a way forward for the rest of the world.
“This makes me happy,” said one Reddit commenter in response to the newest satellite images.
“I wish all Mediterranean climate regions across the world [would do] the same,” said another user.
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