Costa Rica

Forest Law (Law No.7575)

Legislative
Law
Passed in 1996
The 1996 Forest Law establishes the protection, conservation and management of forest areas as a priority and central responsibility of the State. The government is in charge of regulating and supervising the use and exploitation of forest resources in a sustainable manner. In addition, the government should seek to improve living conditions for rural communities.
 
 The law forbids land cover changes in forest and calls for moderate use of natural resources. At the institutional level, the law establishes the creation of the National Forest Office, in charge of proposing policies and programmes on forest issues, as well as managing the activities of projects in place, working closely with local communities and other governmental bodies. Operating on the basis of decentralisation of policy-making, the 1996 law also supported the Regional Environmental Councils, which have played a limited role so far.
 
 Creating the Payment for Environmental Services (PES) Programme, the law rewards landholders for their environmental services, which include:
  • mitigation of GHG emissions through emissions reduction and carbon fixation, capture, storage or absorption;
  • protection of water for urban, rural or hydroelectric use;
  • biodiversity conservation for conservation, sustainable use, scientific investigation or genetic enhancement; and
  • protection of ecosystems or scenic natural beauty for tourism or science.
 In addition, Forest Conservation Certificates (CCB) are available, although less used due to their long-term nature. To be eligible for the CCB scheme, forest resources should not have been extracted in the two years previous to the application and should remain preserved for a minimum of 20 years of the validity of the Certificate. A share of 5% of the amount granted should be designated to the Forest Fund.
 
 The Law establishes the Forest Fund aiming at: fostering capacity building and research activities on best practices in the forest sector; preventing fires and plagues in forest areas; promoting reforestation plans; protecting soil; preventing water and air contamination; promoting forest products; building institutional capacities. A third of the funds collected annually from the tax on fuels and hydrocarbons are to be dedicated to the PES Programme for GHG emissions reduction and to programmes for protection and support of biodiversity through forest protection, conservation and reforestation. The budget of the Fund is formed mainly of contributions from the Ministry of Environment and Energy, donations from international and national organisations and entities, taxes, fines and revenues associated to forest activities, and forest bonds.
 
 Additionally, the law sets up the National Forest Financing Fund (FONAFIFO), to finance the activities of small and medium producers that relate to forestation and reforestation, restoration of degraded land, technological changes and sustainable use of forest resources. Holding legal personality, the Fund raises funds for the payment of environmental services that contribute to the development of the natural resources sector.

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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