Luis Miranda grew up in Costa Rica, in central America. Today, he lives in France and makes films.
In the week that we celebrate World Wildlife Day (March 3), he spoke to WoW! News about how his country has changed since he left – and about why he’s made a film to show what Costa Rica can teach the world about replanting forests.
That’s important because the world’s forests are home to most of the different kinds of animal and plant and insect and bug that live our planet. And each one plays its part in keeping the Earth – and us humans! – healthy.
But we’ve chopped down a lot of forests. And we need to stop. And replant them.
When he was a boy, says Luis, he spent holidays on his grandparents’ farm. They grew pineapples, bananas and mangoes. Around about, people also grew wheat for bread and raised cows for meat and milk.
Luis loved playing on the farm. He also loved to listen to his grandad’s tales of the great forest and the wild animals that lived there, like the jaguar. Costa Rica was famous for its rich variety of wild animals, exotic birds and rare jungle plants.
But Luis never saw a jaguar – because there was no more forest near his grandparents’ village. In the years since his grandad was young, all the trees had been cut down to clear the fields for growing fruit and other crops or to let cows roam around and eat grass.
A deeper green
In fact, more than half of all the forest in Costa Rica had been cut down over about 40 years, making way for farms. When he grew up, Luis left Costa Rica. But a few years ago, he went home for a visit with his children.
And he saw an amazing change. “Look how green this place is!” Luis said to his kids. There seemed to be trees everywhere where there used to be fields.
Eco-tourism and biodiversity
People in Costa Rica had realised that it was better for them to give up some of their farmland and recreate the forests. The country has become very popular with tourists wanting to see its wildlife.
Nearly 5% of all the known species of all life on Earth (what we call biodiversity) can be found in this little country – more than you find in the whole of Europe.
That ecotourism (ecology tourism) has helped to make up for people earning less money from farming.
“Reading the forest”
It’s not just tourists who are interested in Costa Rica’s wildlife. The whole country takes care of Nature. Hunting is totally banned. One district of the capital city made bees and trees “citizens” to protect wildlife living alongside people in the town.
And all children in Costa Rica learn lots about wildlife in school. There are special lessons in how to “read the forest” – to know which trees are which, which birds and animals live in them, and so on.
The people who study the forest and help us understand it are, says Luis, “real heroes”: “Thanks to them, Nature in Costa Rica is getting back to where it was.”
Now Luis has a plan for the rest us. He soon plans to start classes where he lives in France to teach children there how to “read the forest”. Do you think you can read a tree? Well, there’s an app for that…
Want more news about solutions for preserving biodiversity? Check out these stories on WoW! News !