In 1983, approximately one-third of Costa Rica was forested, although some of this forest was disturbed and only 17% of the forest was primary. The dry zone had been totally deforested by 1961; then moist forest became the preferred target for clearing for cattle ranching. Since much of this land is totally unsuitable for grazing, it became eroded and was abandoned. Later, wet and montane (mountain) forests were logged as they became more accessible due to the expansion of roads and railroads. The rates of deforestation continued to increase through the 1970’s and 1980’s (Sader and Joyce, 1988). The consequences have been landslides on deforested hillsides, flooding, silting of reservoirs, and escape of eroded soil into the sea, where it has destroyed coral reefs and fisheries. The government has now set aside some areas as parks and forest reserves, with some success, and ecotourism is big business in Costa Rica.

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