Chorotega Model Forest

In a nutshell

The Chorotega Model Forest initiative brings together key sectors to build a common vision for the sustainable development of the Nicoya peninsula, in Guanacaste.

This region constitutes a model landscape for its history of forest and environmental organizations, conformed by community leaders and small producers dedicated to forest restoration, reforesting for timber production, sustainable agriculture and livestock, river basin protection, protecting biodiversity and making a rational use of water resources.


The Chorotega Model Forest spans an area of more than 500,000 hectares, 10% of the Costa Rican territory. It includes five cantons from the Guanacaste province –Hojancha, Nicoya, Nandayure, Santa Cruz and Carrillo– and three districts from Puntarenas: Cóbano, Lepanto and Paquera. The territory is home to the Matambú indigenous community, the sole remaining representative of the Chorotega people.

The Nicoya Peninsula is an area of great relevance for the country. More than 55.4% of its territory is covered by natural forests under restoration and it offers a wide variety of ecosystems and mountain ranges. Most of these ecosystems are recovering secondary forests important for their sources of drinking water, beautiful beaches and coves, waterfowls, wetlands, and sea turtle nesting grounds.

The Gulf of Nicoya is surrounded by extensive mangroves and several islands of varying sizes. It has large savannahs, wetlands and fertile soils next to the Tempisque river, the largest river basin in Costa Rica.


The Chorotega Model Forest is immersed within the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT) of the National Conservation Areas System (SINAC) of the Ministry of Energy and the Environment (MINAE). The ACT territory is managed from a biological corridor approach, which tends to maintain and restore biological connectivity among core areas, in this case thirty Protected Wildlife Areas.

In 2009 an initial Board was established, composed of several representative sectors of the Chorotega Model Forest, such as academia, tourism, producer organizations, environmental organizations, biological corridors, electricity or energy sector, conservation areas, experimental stations, municipalities, indigenous communities, protected wildlife areas and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. Current Model Forest members also represent diverse sectors, which in turn form different management and decision making instances at different levels.


Strategic goals:

  • To help improve forest and landscape connectivity;
  • To protect and promote adequate water use;
  • To promote sustainable production;
  • To promote environmental education and local culture.

Key actions in place to reach these goals:

  • To endorse public and private protected areas;
  • To promote the cultivation and sustainable use of trees;
  • To promote community organization.

Key impacts:

  • Five new regional organizations have been created to work on issues such as water and forests;
  • Twenty integral farms are under development;
  • A local trust is operating to support local and communal organizations.

Learn more about Chorotega Model Forest :

Video: Hojancha: cuna de la reforestación nacional (in Spanish)

Video: Pobladores de Hojancha decidieron hacer de su tierra la cuna de la reforestación (in Spanish)

IMFN News: International cooperation, innovation and local partners come together in Chorotega Model Forest to combat future fires

News: Hojancha: un caso de éxito de recuperación de biodiversidad y promoción de la resiliencia (in Spanish)


Costa Rica


Nicoya Peninsula, Guanacaste province

Area (ha):


Regional affiliation:

Latin-American Model Forest Network

Year joined IMFN:


Number of inhabitants:


Contact information:

Jose Joaquín Rodriguez 

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