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Costa Rica’s Forests: Not Quite the Climate Change Superheroes We Hoped For

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In a twist that might make a sloth sprint, Costa Rica’s lush forests, while impressive, are falling short in the battle against climate change. The 2023 State of the Nation Report reveals a hard truth: Costa Rica’s forests, though expanding, can’t shoulder the burden of climate change alone. It’s like expecting a single umbrella to keep an entire soccer team dry during a downpour.

Forests: The Green Crusaders with Limitations

Costa Rica’s forests are like natural air purifiers, but they’re struggling to keep up with the greenhouse gases we’re pumping out. The report points out that forest degradation is reducing their ability to gobble up carbon emissions. The energy sector, agriculture, industrial processes, and solid waste are throwing more at the forests than they can handle.

More Than Just a Tree Hugger’s Problem

The issue isn’t just about loving trees; it’s about revamping our energy habits. The transportation sector, still cozy with fossil fuels, needs an electric shock of change. The report nudges towards a shift in energy and agricultural practices and pokes at the sluggish adoption of electric vehicles.

Positive Green Strides

But it’s not all gloom and doom. The report applauds Costa Rica’s green cover, covering 57% of the national territory in 2022, and the consistency of protected wild areas. The expansion of payment schemes for environmental services also gets a nod, marking a 760% increase after a two-year slump.

Karen Chacón Araya’s Environmental Insights

Karen Chacón Araya, the environmental chapter researcher, reminisces about Costa Rica’s long-standing conservation efforts. The rebound from the deforestation spikes of the 1950s and 60s is a tale of triumph. Yet, she points out, the forests, though carbon positive, are not enough to tackle the entire climate crisis.

The Forest Degradation Conundrum

The report dives into forest degradation, an unseen villain causing a dip in carbon storage capabilities. Chacón emphasizes that to truly aim for decarbonization, Costa Rica must tackle energy and agriculture sectors head-on.

Wildfires: The Unseen Enemy

Adding fuel to the fire, literally, are the increasing forest wildfires. In 2022, these blazes affected over 43,000 hectares, nearly doubling from 2021, further hampering the forests’ ability to combat carbon emissions.

A Call for Wider Action

The report is clear: leaning on forests alone is like trying to bail out a boat with a teaspoon. It’s time to rethink energy usage, water resources, and agricultural land use. Stagnation in these areas is essentially backpedaling on environmental progress.

The Threat to Marine Life and Species

The increase in protected areas doesn’t shield the growing number of threatened species or the deteriorating health of the oceans. The report warns of a rise in total fishing hauls, further stressing marine ecosystems.

Franz Tattenbach Capra’s Reality Check

Minister of Environment and Energy, Franz Tattenbach Capra, admits the forests’ limitations. But he’s quick to defend their value, arguing that if the world followed Costa Rica’s lead in taxing fossil fuels for reforestation, we’d be in a greener place. He points to sustainable agro-landscapes and energy initiatives as part of the solution.

Budget Constraints

The conservation efforts are like a car running on fumes – there’s just not enough budget. Sinac’s budget cuts have led to a 70% decrease in hours dedicated to protecting natural assets.

A Collaborative Future

The solution may lie in a joint effort involving international funding, private enterprise, and civil society. It’s about getting everyone on board, from big corporations to the average Joe.

So, Costa Rica’s forests, while doing their best, need a bit of help from their friends – us. It’s about making changes in how we use energy, get around, and grow our food. With a collective push, maybe we can turn Costa Rica’s forests from climate change sidekicks into superheroes.



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Honduras Confiscates Assets of Ex-Cop Linked to Drug Trafficking in US :

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The Honduran Prosecutor’s Office confiscated eight properties and other assets from former police officer Mauricio Hernández Pineda, cousin of former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, who is accused of drug trafficking in the United States, the institution reported on Monday.

Through the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Organized Crime and the Technical Agency for Criminal Investigation, “four home searches were carried out in [the departments of] Cortés and Copán” and “seizures of 37 assets considered to be of illicit origin,” the statement said.

Eight properties, two vehicles, and 27 financial products (bank accounts or deposits) were seized in the police operation called “El Primo” and “were registered in the name of Mauricio Hernández Pineda, who pleaded guilty in the Southern District Court of New York, United States, on February 2, 2024, to charges related to drug trafficking,” it added.

The New York Prosecutor’s Office accused Hernández Pineda, along with his cousin – the former president (2014-2022) – and Juan Carlos Bonilla, former director of the Honduran National Police, of conspiring to traffic cocaine from producing countries in South America to the United States.

The drug transportation was carried out in conjunction with the Mexican Sinaloa cartel, which was then led by drug lord Joaquín “el Chapo” Guzmán, who was sentenced to life in prison in the United States for the same crime, according to witnesses at the trial against former President Hernández.

The trial against Hernández began on February 12 in New York and continues this week.

The New York Court had decided to unify the trial against the three Hondurans, but Hernández Pineda and Bonilla pleaded guilty, so only the former president was brought to trial. The high court will pass sentence on Hernández Pineda on May 2 and on Bonilla on June 25.

Honduras sent prosecutors to the trial in New York for “the exercise of criminal actions” against the Hondurans who are convicted, according to the statement from the Prosecutor’s Office.



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The Mystery of the Misshapen: Unraveling the Genetic Enigma of Central America’s Sloths

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In the verdant heart of Central America, a peculiar trend has caught the eye of scientists and animal lovers alike. For over a decade, the lush jungles have been the stage for an unfolding mystery: an unusual influx of baby sloths bearing the marks of genetic anomalies. This phenomenon, characterized by misshapen limbs, missing appendages, and rare instances of albinism, has perplexed researchers and spurred a quest for answers amidst the canopy’s emerald embrace.

A Puzzling Pattern Emerges

It was during her Ph.D. research near the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica in San Clemente that Dr. Rebecca Cliffe first encountered these anomalies. Sloths with limbs that zigged when they should have zagged, some missing fingers, toes, or even entire limbs, became subjects of her study. “Their ears and jaws were also prone to deformity,” Cliffe revealed in a dialogue that shed light on the severity of these genetic mutations.

Not confined to the sanctuaries, these anomalies were also witnessed in the wild. “In the South Caribbean, it’s not uncommon to spot adult sloths thriving despite missing limbs,” Cliffe added, highlighting the resilience of these creatures. Yet, the question looms: What causes these genetic mutations?

Beyond External Anomalies

The intrigue deepens as Dr. Andrés Bräutigam, a veterinarian at the Toucan Rescue Ranch, points to internal issues. “Many mutations affect internal organs, leading to congenital conditions that hinder the development of lungs and hearts, among others,” Bräutigam explained. This suggests that the problem is more complex, with mutations often flying under the radar due to the necessity for extensive medical examination.

The Struggle for Survival

The survival of these sloths is a tale of resilience and tragedy. “Even a missing finger can mean a death sentence,” Cliffe remarked, noting that necropsies often reveal numerous internal abnormalities. These revelations paint a stark picture of the challenges faced by sloths from birth, thrusting them into a fight for survival from their first breath.

Costa Rica: A Biodiversity Powerhouse

Costa Rica, known for its rich biodiversity and status as a sanctuary for an estimated 5 percent of the world’s species, finds its national symbol in the sloth. This nation, boasting the highest density of sloths, is also the world’s leading pineapple producer, a fact that harks back to a time when pineapples were a symbol of wealth and extravagance in colonial America.

The Pineapple Connection

The pineapple, once a luxury that could command prices as steep as $8,000 in today’s money, has a history intertwined with international trade and the democratization of luxury. Charles Lamb’s 1857 description of the pineapple as a fruit whose taste is “almost too transcendent” echoes through time, reminding us of the fruit’s enduring appeal.

Seeking Answers

As researchers like Cliffe and Bräutigam peel back the layers of this mystery, their work sheds light on the resilience of nature and the interplay between genetics and environment. The plight of the sloths serves as a poignant reminder of our interconnected world, where the health of the smallest creatures can reflect broader ecological changes.

This ongoing saga of discovery and resilience in the face of genetic adversity offers a window into the complexities of nature, urging us to pay closer attention to the silent stories unfolding in the world around us.



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Know the Benefits of This Procedure for Your Pet ⋆ The Costa Rica News

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With the aim of helping to raise awareness about the need to sterilize our pets, to save animal lives; The last Tuesday of February marked World Animal Sterilization Day.

Sterilization consists of the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus (in females), or the surgical resection of the testicles (in males) of pet animals, to prevent the reproduction of unplanned offspring and litters.

“In this way, we contribute to the reduction of pet overpopulation, since there is a high number of dogs and cats that do not have a family or a home. The benefit of sterilization is also for pets with families, since it reduces the possibility of transmission of some diseases. Likewise, this procedure helps prevent illnesses in companion animals,” explained Adrián Polo, Veterinarian and Technical Manager of the Companion Animal Unit of MSD Animal Health in Central America, the Caribbean and Ecuador (CENCA EC).

Sterilization rate is more than 80%

According to a study by Humane Society International, in some areas of Costa Rica the dog sterilization rate is more than 80%, demonstrating that the population density of stray dogs has decreased in some urban areas of the country where spaying and neutering is more common.

Within the framework of this important day, specialists from MSD Animal Health highlighted that, contrary to what many think, this procedure can have great benefits for the health of animals.

Some of these benefits are:

For dogs:

  • Reduces the risk of developing testicular neoplasms.
  • Reduces the risk of prostate diseases.
  • Reduces the risk of mammary gland tumors in females.
  • Minimizes the risk of pyometra (uterine infection), which kills approximately 1% of all female dogs.
  • Eliminates the risk of ovarian tumors.
  • It can help reduce roaming behaviors, territorial marking, aggression, among others.

For cats:

  • It can help decrease marking behavior in the house.
  • Eliminates aggressive behavior with other cats.
  • Reduces the transmission of diseases such as viral leukemia and immunodeficiency syndrome.
  • Helps prevent the appearance of prostate, testicular and anal tumors.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the general benefits of sterilization are as follows:

  • Spaying your female pet dramatically reduces her risk of breast cancer, which is fatal in approximately 50% of dogs and 90% of cats.
  • Neutering the male pet eliminates his risk of testicular cancer.
  • Spaying the female pet prevents heat cycles and eliminates meowing, crying, erratic behavior, and bloody vaginal discharge.
  • Neutering the male pet reduces inappropriate behaviors, such as wandering to find a mate, marking inside his home, and fighting with other males.

AAHA guidelines recommend that cats be sterilized before five months of age. While small breed dogs (less than 45 pounds projected adult body weight) should be neutered at six months of age or spayed before the first heat (five to six months). Large breed dogs (over 45 pounds projected adult body weight) should be neutered after growth stops, which generally occurs between 9 and 15 months of age.

The surgical and anesthetic techniques currently used allow sterilization to be an elective procedure with a large margin of safety for the animals, in addition to the fact that postoperative care is minimal and the animal returns to its normal life in a very short time; recovery takes no more than 24 hours.

According to specialists, sterilization is a preventive measure that improves the quality of life of pets and that contributes to the control of the animal population, avoiding more abandonments and they recommend taking the pet to the Veterinarian to follow their recommendations on this important procedure.

Resonance Costa Rica
At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel https://youtube.com/@resonanceCR



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