El Sendero Osa: Establishing a Mixed Tenure Regional Trail System on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula

The complex of protected areas and contiguous forest on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula represents the last remaining moist tropical forest on Central America’s Pacific Coast. Biogeographically, the Osa forests demonstrate a strong affinity to the Colombian Choco on the South American continent, and represent the northernmost expression of that ecosystem. Globally, the Osa is considered a Center of Plant Diversity, with a floral complexity rivaling that of the Amazon. At the heart of this remarkable mosaic lies Corcovado National Park famously described as “perhaps the most biologically intense place on earth.

Ecotourism represents the centerpiece in Costa Rica’s strategy to protect the Osa Peninsula. To further this strategy, conservation planners at CEDARENA Land Trust, a not-for-profit organization that promotes private land conservation have proposed to establish a regional trail across the Osa Peninsula, patterned after similar efforts in Chile (Sendero de Chile), Peru (the Inca Trail) and the United States (the Appalachian Trail). The trail will anchor a concerted effort to create a biological corridor connecting Corcovado and Piedras Blancas National Parks.

Alex Figares (U of Florida Law/Business) and Tiernan Mennen (Cornell Law) investigated the legal issues concerning the building of a public trail traversing both public and private lands in the ecologically sensitive Osa Peninsula. They looked into land tenure and land use regulations and spent a traversing the Osa to ascertain viable alternatives. The project culminated in a report before CEDARENA Land Trust representatives (who sponsored the endeavor), and various stakeholders in the region. Also presenting a comparative study of issues pertaining to the trail were students Jessica Cooper (U of Florida Law) and Jose Pablo Sanchez Vega (Universidad de Costa Rica Derecho). The report includes the recommendation for the establishment of a National Trails Law in Costa Rica, and a proposed route recommended by the Conservation Clinic.

Resources:

Legal Mechanisms for Establishing a Mixed Tenure Regional Trail System: A Comparative Analysis of the U.S.and Costa Rica with Recommendations (Mixed English and Spanish), Mennen & Figares.

Liability Issues Associated with a Mixed Tenure Trail System: A Comparative Analysis of the U.S. and Costa Rica (mixed English and Spanish), Cooper & Sanchez.

Senderos Regionales en Latinoamerica: El Camino Inca, El Sendero de Chile y La Propuesta para el Sendero Osa con Recomendaciones (Spanish only), Figares.

The Conservation Clinic’s Field-Based Recommendations concerning one Potential Route for the Sendero Osa (English). Figares & Mennen.

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