Costa Rica Named First BioGem Country by NRDC

(InfoWebPress) – For the first time, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) has designated a country as a BioGem, Costa Rica, as a recognition of its efforts to become the world’s first carbon-neutral nation. "These BioGems are some of the last wild and unspoiled places left in the Western Hemisphere,” said Robert Kennedy, Jr., senior attorney at NRDC. “By naming these places as BioGems, NRDC is empowering hundreds of thousands of concerned individuals to take effective action to save these natural treasures for generations to come." Since 2001, NRDC has campaigned to save more than 30 special natural places that offer sanctuary for endangered wildlife, curb global warming and provide livelihoods for local communities. NRDC redesigned its “Save BioGems” Web site with new features in order to more effectively mobilize online activists to protect these areas. In Costa Rica, NRDC is working with the Energy and Environment Ministry to identify measures to help the country meet its commitment of becoming the world's first carbon-neutral nation by 2021. Additionally, NRDC also just signed an agreement with the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. In partnership with one of Latin America’s leading ecological facilities — the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), located in Costa Rica — NRDC has launched a rainforest rejuvenation project to plant 30,000 trees to restore a natural rainforest. These actions will help Costa Rica reaffirm its position as a global environmental leader and reduce pressure on its biodiversity and other natural areas. In addition to Costa Rica, other BioGems added to the list include the Carrizo Plain National Monument in central California and the Peace-Athabasca Delta in Alberta, Canada, which are in danger because of oil and gas exploration. “We have a new opportunity under the Obama administration to protect and save a number of our BioGems,” said Jacob Scherr, co-director of NRDC’s BioGems Initiative. “Places like the Tongass National Forest, Utah’s Redrock Wilderness, and wildlife like the polar bear remain in danger after eight years of reckless policies.”