Our solution looked to take the World Surfing Reserves program and apply it to Playa Hermosa Costa Rica to mobilize the surf community in coastal conservation strategies.  


Some of the challenges faced during the implementation of these two projects included:

  • Securing a significant number of volunteers to assist with survey collection for Surfonomics
  • Carrying out a community project during COVID-19
  • Completing projects that normally require about a year in 6 months

Similar to the challenges of implementing the World Surfing Reserves program in the original solution, local capacity is a challenge as these projects require significant participation from community members.  Another challenge is the scale of the threats.  While the Local Stewardship Plan and Surfonomics are significant building blocks for coastal protection, the actual impacts of climate change are hard to predict and will require more investment from local and regional policy and decision makers.

Description of the Uptake

This solution was replicated by taking similar products that have been created in other World Surfing Reserves and applying them to the context of Playa Hermosa.


All building blocks of the original solution were incorporated into this process.

  • WSR nomination: Playa Hermosa underwent a nomination process facilitated by Save The Waves
  • Coalition Building: Practitioners on the ground built a coalition of stakeholders to engage in the project
  • Stewardship Planning Process:  Practitioners held meetings with stakeholders to form the Local Stewardship Council and plan out the process for creating a Stewardship Plan
  • Surfonomics: The community of Playa Hermosa created a team of individuals to carry out a survey of over 250 people to get an economic profile of the visiting surf tourist

Through this process, we learned that the structure of building a World Surfing Reserve is a very replicable and successful model if there is sufficient community buy in and support. 

Success factors

  • Fantastic team members who put in great work.
  • Creating a work plan to accomplish many objectives in a short amount of time.
  • Regularly meetings with practitioners on the ground to ensure regular progress
  • Support of civil society, local government, nonprofits, and businesses in the community
  • Coalition building!

Stumbling factors

  • Short timespan lead to some missed opportunities for getting more participation.
  • Surfers can sometimes be hard to survey as they enter and leave the ocean quickly.
  • Providing more communication on the front end about the Stewardship Planning Process is critical to getting more important stakeholders to join.
  • A short timeline often leads to missed opportunities and details, so recommend planning for the long term with this solution.

Replication methodology

As Save The Waves has created 8 Surfonomics studies and 9 Local Stewardship Plans, this model was relatively easily to replicate.  However, each area presents new challenges and unforeseen dynamics that require the local team to be adaptable and creative.  Some factors for Playa Hermosa included:

  • A large stretch of beach that was difficult to monitor and collect surveys
  • A seasonal community that is at times difficult to organize

The resources needed are generally seed funding to cover costs for economists and consultants as well as the travel costs associated with carrying out a research project.


To evaluate success, we will monitor progress on completing the objectives set withing the Stewardship Plan on a yearly basis.  The LSC is responsible for reporting to Save The Waves on progress made on their conservation objectives. For the Surfonomics study, the completion of the report and its applicability and use in decision making processes represents good success.

This Uptake Story is based on