National System of Conservation Areas
National System of Conservation Areas or SINAC, (Spanish: Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion—SINAC), is part of the Ministry of Environment and Energy or MINAE of Costa Rica. It is the administrator for the nation's national parks, conservation areas, and other protected natural areas.
SINAC oversees over 160 protected areas, of which 26 are designated National Parks. Other areas are designated wildlife refuges, biological reserves, national monuments, forest reserves, national wetlands, and protected zones.
The entire country of 12,596,690 acres (50,977 km²) is under the jurisdiction of eleven large Conservation Areas which were created in 1998, overseen by divisions of SINAC. Over 25% of the national territory i.e. 3,221,636 acres (13,037 km²) is included in the national parks, refuges, and protected zones within these eleven Conservation Areas.
Costa Rica's progressive policies on environmental protection and sustainable eco-tourism in the National Parks System have been lauded as a model for other countries. The rainforests, tropical forests, marine areas and wetlands of Costa Rica are the subject of many university and scientific organization studies. The enrichment of the world's knowledge of these important habitats is an invaluable contribution from the conservation efforts of the various organisations involved.
- Guanacaste Conservation Area, including Santa Rosa, Rincón de la Vieja and Guanacaste National Parks
- Arenal Huetar Norte Conservation Area including the Juan Castro Blanco National Park
- Central Volcanic Conservation Area including the Braulio Carrillo, Irazú Volcano, Poás Volcano and Turrialba Volcano National Parks as well as the Guayabo National Monument
- Tortuguero Conservation Area including Tortuguero National Park
- Tempisque Conservation Area including Barra Honda, Las Baulas and Palo Verde National Parks
- Arenal Tilaran Conservation Area including the Arenal Volcano and Tenorio Volcano National Parks
- Central Pacific Conservation Area including the Manuel Antonio, Carara and La Cangreja National Parks
- Pacific La Amistad Conservation Area including Chirripó and Tapantí National Parks
- Caribbean La Amistad Conservation Area including the Barbilla and Cahuita National Parks and La Amistad International Park which is shared with Panama and Pacific La Amistad Conservation Area
- Osa Conservation Area including Corcovado and Piedras Blancas National Parks
- Cocos Island Marine Conservation Area which maintains just the Cocos Island National Park