The diverse and once abundant natural resources of the Central American region are being over-exploited at an alarming rate, and if the situation is not remedied, continued deterioration of the economic, environmental and social well-being of the area will result. The degradation of the natural environment is due to a combination of factors including accelerated human population growth, the exploitation of forests by lumber companies, and the conversion of forest to other land uses such as pasture, coffee, sugar cane and banana plantations.
In Costa Rica, the remnants of the original forested environment exist in national parks and reserves, or as forest patches and strips in already colonized areas. Privately owned forests represent the majority of the 300,000 hectares of unprotected primary forest remaining in Costa Rica. By viewing satellite and aerial photos, it is evident that most of these forest remnants are rapidly disappearing. If nothing is done to conserve them, it is most likely that they will disappear in the next few years.
The northeastern part of Costa Rica has been a center of conservation activity for many years. Within this region are located various projects such as the Barro Colorado Wildlife Refuge, Tortuguero National Park and the biological corridor being formed that will connect the (above mentioned) park and wildlife refuge, the SiAPaz National Park shared by Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the Caño Tambor area where a new national park is being planned called Maquenque National Park, Braulio Carrillo National Park with its new park extension connecting it to the La Selva biological research station, etc. The Paseo Pantera Project, with its vision of creating a Meso-American biological corridor from Mexico to Colombia, plans to include all the above mentioned projects, with help from local conservation groups, as links within the greater Meso-American biological corridor, together with any other forested lands still existing in the area, be they in the form of private eco-tourism projects, reserves, refuges, parks, etc.