Land Use Dynamics on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula: A Model for Balancing Ecological, Economic, and Social Integrity

Hewitt, Abigail [Browse]
Senior thesis
97 pages


Dobson, Andrew [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology [Browse]
Class year
Restrictions note
Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Summary note
A key challenge for successfully establishing a protected area is to determine how the surrounding region’s ecological, economic, and social dynamics could impact conservation goals. While numerous studies in the field of ecological economics have attempted to determine the monetary capital provided by each of these dynamics, several issues exist for adequately capturing the potential tradeoffs that exist between these complex and interacting factors. This study proposes a model for quantitatively and qualitatively assessing the relationship between ecological, economic, and social success (EESS) measures in order to formulate context-specific recommendations for balancing these forces within a study area. Corcovado National Park (CNP) on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula is used as a case study for this approach due to the combination of its incredible biological diversity value, along with its local population’s history of natural resource dependency. Main findings include the mutually beneficial relationship between ecological and economic success in rural areas, while the dynamics are inversely related in the region’s urban area. Social success demonstrates a weakly negative relationship to ecological success and no significant relationship to economic success. From the results, recommendations are formulated with the goal of maximizing the positive trend between ecological and economic success and creating a positive trend between these dynamics with social success. While the findings and recommendations are context-specific to this study region, the EESS approach methodology can be applied to any community surrounding a protected area. This will be especially useful in light of increasing population sizes and growing economic pressures on developing countries globally.

Supplementary Information