The Association has outlined an ambitious multi-stage, long-term plan which aims to solve the immediate problem of La Martita, and help with the development of a locally owned and operated nature tourism industry while at the same time consolidating existing reserves and promoting the linkage of local areas to the Meso-American Biological Corridor. Most of the stages of the plan will require considerable financial resources. The objective is to obtain these through international fund raising efforts from philanthropic sources. However, once the nature tourism project becomes well developed, some of the profits will be re-invested into future stages of the plan. In brief, the plan includes the following stages:
1) Purchase of Finca La Martita by the Sarapiquí Association for Forests and Wildlife. 670 hectares. Estimated cost: $330,000
2) Establish a community-based nature tourism project at La Martita which will function as a cooperative. Cost: $136,000 for a one year startup.
3) Join the Holbrook reserve at Selva Verde Lodge to the Braulio Carrillo National Park. 345 hectares. Estimated cost: $249,953
4) Widen the corridor connecting the La Selva Biological Station to the bulk of the Braulio Carrillo National Park. 596 hectares. Cost: $431,398 This stage is currently funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
5) Purchase the remainder of the Sardinal Hills, the wetlands, and the Arrepentidos Hills areas and join them to the La Martita nature tourism project. 1,330 hectares. Estimated cost: $818,685
6) Widen the upper elevation portions of the corridor connecting the La Selva Biological Station to the Braulio Carrillo National Park. 640 hectares. Estimated cost: $436,800
Most of the costs listed above are estimated values. The purchase of Finca La Martita is an essential step in promoting community-based nature tourism projects and conservation efforts in Costa Rica. The creation of the Sarapiquí Association for Forests and Wildlife nature tourism project will be an example to other communities, demonstrating that it is possible for rural communities to directly manage and benefit from nature tourism projects. It also provides a type of empowerment to local communities. With actual ownership of a property, community members have more incentive to work together and manage the local natural, as well as human, resources as efficiently and profitably as possible for their own benefit and well being.