As of 2009 Costa Rica had 169 protected areas covering 26.2% of its terrestrial area and .9% of its marine area.
13.75% of this total is in strictly protected areas, with the balance allowing some degree of resource extraction.
In 1995 Costa Rica initiated a planning process (GRUAS – Propuesta de ordenamiento territorial para la conservacion de la biodiversidad) to assess where added conservation measures would be needed to ensure that 90% of Costa Rica’s biodiversity would be protected. A second phase of this process (GRUAS II) was completed in 2007. GRUAS II produced the following findings:
• 5.93% of Costa Rica’s territory is held in private areas that are not permanently protected, but are under short-term (i.e. less than 10 year) contracts for payments for ecosystem services. These contracts might not be renewed after they expire, and therefore these areas would not qualify as protected areas under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s protected areas definition. On the other hand these areas also have potential for long term conservation.
• 36 biological corridors have been identified to provide connectivity between protected areas.
• Priority areas necessary to complete the ecological integrity of their protected areas system, would add an additional 5.54% of the country to the protected areas system.
• A public consultation system identified an additional 7.2% of the country’s territory as priorities for regional conservation (with some overlaps with the 5.54% identified above).
Thus, gaps remain to achieve the 90% target terrestrially marine protected area coverage lags behind terrestrial conservation efforts. However, Costa Rica has undertaken a comprehensive planning process to ensure a representative network of interconnected protected areas.