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"Costa Rica was today named as the winner of the 2010 Future Policy award at a global summit on biodiversity in Nagoya, Japan.
The Central American country aims to be the first developing nation to meet UN biodiversity commitments. The prize, issued by the World Future Council, was given in recognition of the country's 1998 biodiversity law, which was held up as a model for other nations to follow.
Costa Rica channels funds from a fuel tax, car stamp duty and energy fees to pay for nature reserve management and environmental services like clean air, fresh water and biodiversity protection.
Landowners are paid to preserve old-growth forests and to plant new trees. As a result, forest cover has risen from 24% in 1985 to close to 46% today.
It has also established a national commission on biodiversity, comprising scientists, civil servants and indigenous representatives, which proposes policies to the government and promotes green education among the public.
Partly as a result, Costa Rica ranks third in the global Environmental Performance index and first in the Happy Planet index."