Private sector investment in conservation of dry forests and mangrove restoration

Published: 10 November 2015
Last edited: 09 July 2019
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The Global Conservation Standard (GCS) is an innovative financial mechanism - It is a private sector financed system of payments for ecosystem services: companies buy conservation credits and the revenue generated is managed by a Costa Rican NGO to invest in sustainable development activities. One example is the investment of a German certified organic shrimp producer in Costa Rica buying conservation credits to restore mangroves. The organic shrimp are sold in Germany by certified organic retailers - for each 250g sold 0.15€ are channeled to the GCS Fund and used for conservation activities.


Central America
Scale of implementation
Coastal forest
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Ecosystem services
Protected area governance
Sustainable financing
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources


Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica


  • Coastal forest conservation
  • Mangrove restoration
  • Resiliency and sustainability of marine and coastal ecosystems
  • Ecosystem-based adaptation to address climate change vulnerability
  • Sustainable financing


  • Local communities (Jicaral, Nandayure, Lepanto)
  • Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), Costa Rica
  • National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), Costa Rica

How do the building blocks interact?

The building blocks can be considered as phases to achieve the implementation of a financial mechanism based on an identified international conservation standard: identifying the standard, planning for, and implementing the mechanism. The identification and implementation of a financial mechanism ensures effective management and requires joint planning between the main stakeholders involved. Planning and management must have up-to-date information on the different options and lessons learned at the national and international levels. The participation of the main actors in each phase is important since they are the ones which will implement the standard for conservation of natural resources.


The Global Conservation Standard (GCS) provides additional financial resources for conservation and economic development activities at local level. Funds generated by the sale of conservation credit units amount to US$ 100.000 (another US$ 40.000 are in negotiation with international and national enterprises). Funds are invested in the restoration of 20 ha of mangrove, the conservation of the private Karen Mogensen Forest Reserve and the implementation of a small-sclae hones production project.


In the communities adjacent to the mangrove area many people are fishing for mollusks. In recent years, however, only few and smaller mollusks can be found. This decrease is due to the over-exploitation and degradation of the natural mangrove habitat, which is caused, for example, by intensive agriculture and other human activities in the area, which leads to high input of sediment and nutrients from rivers. Climate change also contributes to the degradation as weathern patterns, tides and the amount of rainfall are changing. All pof this decreases the productivity of the mangrove ecosystem.

Dona Francisca lives next to the mangroves. For a loving she sells mollusks she gathers in the mangroves and pigs she raises around her house. She hopes that with the new financing mechanism, the Global Conservation Standard (GCS), her situation will improve. Under this new mechanism, an area of coastal private forest functions as a core area that will generate Conservation Credit Units (CCUs), which are being sold. 40% of the revenue is then appointed to the management of the core forest area to implement management plans focusing on protection, as well as adaptation and mitigation activities, which help to maintain and restore the functions of the ecosystem. 20% of the revenue is given to the owner of the forest for their discretionary use. The remaining 40% are invested in the commercial buffer zone (ZAC), which in this case includes the rehabilitation of mangroves and its ecosystem services.

With the support of local communities and other local stakeholders the rehabilitation actions which previously are agreed on with the national conservation authorities are implemented. This means that Dona Francisca and her fellow mollusk gatherers can benefit from the program from helping in rehabilitating the mangroves themselves by taking care of mangrove nurseries and working in the restoration of the natural waterflow, all of which will hopefully lead to a recovery of the mollusk populations. This will provide them with a more sustainable income in the long term and alternative income options.

Contributed by

Michael Schloenvoigt GIZ Costa Rica

Other contributors

GIZ Costa Rica