First USA-CR Debt for Nature Swap

Since 2017, the Forever Costa Rica Association has managed the First Debt-for-Nature Swap between the United States of America and Costa Rica.



The First USA-CR Debt for Nature Swap is an agreement whereby the Government of the United States of America condones part of the external debt to the Government of Costa Rica, in exchange for the latter’s commitment to invest the amount forgiven in a fund for finance conservation projects.

This swap is an agreement whereby the government of the United States cancels part of Costa Rica’s external debt in exchange for a commitment by the latter to invest the amount cancelled in a fund to finance conservation projects.

Main Objective: Conserve, protect, restore, and sustainably use tropical forests in Costa Rica in six priority geographic areas (PGAs): Osa, La Amistad, Tortuguero, Maquenque, northeast sector of Rincón de la Vieja, and Nicoya.


Projects Financed by the First Debt for Nature Swap

Some examples of achievements in the 2017-2018 period

Community Commitment

The Neotrópica Foundation and The Voice of Guanacaste worked with local populations on the importance of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, leading a new generation of nature guardians in the Osa Peninsula, Hojancha, and Nicoya.

Water Resources and Forest Connectivity

Communities in Pococí and Guácimo, the Caribbean, Nicoya, and Guanacaste have strengthened their local water associations (ASADAs) to better manage their water with the help of CATIE and Nicoyagua. Farmers living near La Amistad National Park, Chirripó National Park, Braulio Carrillo National Park, Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge, Corcovado National Park, and Diriá National Park increased forest connectivity and wellbeing through better practice. Parter organizations like Asociación Ecológica Comunidad de Árboles, FUNDECOR, OET, Aves de Osa, ASOPROLA, UNAFOR, and FUNDECODES facilitated this process by focusing on non-timber forest products, agroecotourism, agroforesty, crop diversification, analog forestry, riverbank protection, and living fences, among others.

Best Tourism Practices

ASECUSAR, Neotrópica Foundation, and ARCA promoted better tourism practices in the buffer zones of La Amistad International Park, Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve, and Tortuguero National Park, using agroecotourism, local guide training, new technologies and promotion trends, in addition to infrastructure improvements for a better visitor experience.

Forest Fire Training

In the sites of greatest fire incidence in the country (Talamanca Mountain Range and the Nicoya Peninsula) with support of FUNDEPREDI, ASOPROLA, UNAFOR, and FUNDECODES, special equipment was provided and trainings offered to 28 forest fire fighters from six brigades.

Natural Costa Rican Heritage

With FUNDECOR’s support, 82 ha of highly diverse moorlands were acquired around Irazú Volcano NP as part of the nation’s natural heritage. These lands belong to SINAC’s Central CA and were identified as conservation gaps according to studies carried out by the GRUAS II project. Moorlands face serious threats such as hunting, forest fire, plant extraction, erosion, landslides, deforestation, and climate change.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

In alliance with ASOPROLA, FUNDEPREDI, UNAFOR, and FUNDECODES, projects that promote the mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the agricultural sector, were carried out. Some of its strategies include the protection of wells and rivers, crop diversification to mitigate the effects of disease and infestation, and increases in farm forest coverage to improve wildlife conditions.

Fourteen projects include actions such as the planting of 10,000 trees and the recovery of forest coverage in riverine zones to improve forest connectivity in areas around La Amistad International Park, the Nicoya Peninsula, and watershed recharge zones in the Caribbean lowlands.

Management Effectiveness

The Osa Conservation Area now has important technology, such as GPS, a plotter, camera traps, and GPS peccary tracking collars to improve decision-making about land use and key species monitoring. These were led by MarViva and the Osa Conservation Association.

Generation of Employment Opportunities and Local Enterprises

Under the leadership of the Neotrópica Foundation, FUNDECOR, ASOPROLA, FUNDEPREDI, Bríbripa Kanèblö and FUNDATEC 28 local businesses were developed this will eventually reduce threats to biodiversity conservation. These businesses work in ecological tourism, sustainable agriculture, forestry, ethnobotany, non-traditional crops, non-timber forest products, and food processing. FUNDECOR also worked on business strategies for products and services developed by communities in the San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor.

Monitoring outside of NPA

Projects led by ASANA, FUNDEPREDI,Neotrópica Foundation, Osa Conservation Association, FUNDECOR, Ara Project, and APREFLOFAS-Confraternidad Guanacasteca monitored various fauna species. Efforts to conserve the great green macaw in the southern Caribbean included the installation of artificial nests and feeders as well as the reproduction and liberation of individual birds. In Osa Peninsula, peccaries were tagged with GPS collars to better understand movements of groups. In the Talamanca Range, tapir feces were genetically analyzed to determine health, diet, and relationships found in the Caribbean and Pacific. Finally, in the Nicoya Peninsula, researchers trapped bees, bats, and birds to better understand pollinators and seed dispersers.

Climate Change Adaptation

Alliances with different organizations have taken the lead in conserving watershed recharge areas by strengthening technical, financial, and administrative capacity of 20 local water associations (ASADAs) in the Nicoya Peninsula and Guácimo and Pococí counties:


The Supervisory Committee is responsible for convening non-profit organizations (NGOs and Grassroots Organizations) each year to access the First Exchange funds, according to their institutional characteristics.

The First Swap, invite to submit project proposals aimed at:

  • Prevention, protection, research and monitoring of wildlife species targeted, and of threatened forest ecosystems.
  • Promotion of private financial mechanisms that benefit conservation in non-state lands and sustainable productive activities that benefit the conservation of the forest and the livelihoods of the inhabitants.
  • Recovery of degraded areas and restoration of forests.
  • Strengthening Biological Corridors: Diriá, Cerros de Jesús, Rincón Cacao and Rincón Rainforest.

There is also a category of special projects, such as the Mentoring Program, and projects defined by the committee to address specific problems.

In 2017, the VII request for proposals period opened, inviting NGOs and grassroots organizations to apply for funds.

Total available amount: $1 million
Supervisory Committee: