The Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica is, in some ways, a conservation success story in aglobal landscape where these kinds of stories are too few and far between. There is more forest now on the Osa than there was twenty years ago, swaths of protected beach and forest intact enough for sea turtles, jaguars and tapirs, and an active tourism economy. But as local demographics change, as wealthy foreigners arrive to build homes, as large new tourism developments get proposed, it becomes clear that the Osa’s story is not yet fully written. What would “success” actually look like in this incredible place? And what lessons does the Osa have for conservation practitioners everywhere?
Andrea Johnson is the Managing Director of Osa Conservation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and restoring the globally significant biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Osa Conservation’s approach integrates science, stewardship, education, land management and community engagement in order to protect one of Central America’s last remaining expanses of intact wildlife habitat. The organization manages two field stations and approximately 2400hectares of land, and offers a wealth of research opportunities in forest and wildlife ecology, reforestation and restoration of degraded habitats, and social ecology.
From 2006 until early 2012, Andrea was Director of Forest Campaigns for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a Washington, DC-based NGO that documents and campaigns against environmental crimes. During this time she built an 8-person team with a diverse portfolio of work on forest governance, illegal logging, international trade and forest-carbon policy. Andrea guided EIA’s campaign to pass and defend the 2008 amendments to the Lacey Act, landmark legislation to reduce illegal timber trade.
Andrea graduated from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 2005 with a Master's in Environmental Science. She received her B.A. in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University in 1998. She speaks fluent Spanish and Bahasa Indonesia.