Costa Rica, a nation of Central America, holds a reputation of environmental leadership. As a small, developing country, the nation has placed nearly 25% of its territory under some form of protection. Despite the country’s image as a conservation leader since the 1970s, the nation continues to experience deforestation. To reduce forest degradation and deforestation, particularly in privately owned land, the nation now participates in a national Payment for Environmental Services (PES) program which pays private land owners to keep land forested with the intention to protect biodiversity, scenic beauty, aquifer protection, and ensure carbon sequestration. Despite PES’s intention of ensuring conservation and economic development goals, PES sites can participate in a conflict of interest between local communities and the national and international goals of conservation strategies which exclude certain people from control and access to resources. In this study, Ms. Toro looked at the overarching question of the relationship between livelihood and access to resources and employed the use of Geographical
Information Systems (GIS) to map the location of PES sites with relation to race, ethnicity, and income of the nation’s regions. This spatial analysis serves to observe demographic patterns alongside prominent conservation initiatives, and uncovers ways in which segregated demographic patterns that have established since colonial times may be affected still today within the system of conservation in Costa Rica.