Arenal Tempisque Conservation Area (ACAT)

 Arenal Tempisque Conservation Area (ACAT) is one of the 11 areas that make up the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment and Energy. This area was established in October 1991; It covers about 395.046.14 hectares; which equals 7.73% of the national territory.

It is located in the north-central part of Costa Rica between latitudes 10 ° 00” and 10 ° 50” north and longitude 84 ° 30” and 85 ° 30" west, it comprises part of the Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range and Tilarán Mountain Range. Highlights in this region the Miravalles and Tenorio volcanoes, as well as the Arenal Reservoir, main power generation source and irrigation of the country as well as tourism development source of the area, it includes a freshwater lake of about 8,317 hectares, which was declared Ramsar site on 16 March 2000.

Other Ramsar place included in the ACAT is located in the Palo Verde National Park, located in the lower basin of the Tempisque River considered an area of vital importance as breeding and feeding for many species of waterfowl, migratory and resident, as well as endangered species, becoming one of the largest nesting areas in the country. 

Geographically it covers parts of 10 cantons and 32 districts in the provinces of Guanacaste, Alajuela and Puntarenas; from the entire land extension of the Area; currently 24.84% consists of protected areas, 28.81% as biological corridors and the remaining percentage corresponds to the area of influence.

Over 70% of the country's hydroelectric power is generated in this Conservation Area, which also has over 90% of production of wind and geothermal energy.

In this conservation area there is a high diversity of environments, ecosystems and species in eight different life zones ranging from tropical dry forest to lower montane rain forest, with an equal number of ecological transition zones. Due the varied altitude topography (from sea level to 2028 meters above sea level), it is given a varied climate regime and presence of geological formations of different ages.

Its flora and fauna is diverse with numerous species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and a large number of taxonomic groups of insects and fungi, in addition this conservation area has endangered animals such as the jaguar (Panthera onca) and tapir (Tapirus bairdii), among others, the being present 6 species of wild cats in the country.
Besides, they have been also identified about 190 plants that are present in the Conservation Area that are endemic to Costa Rica, some of them endemic to the area. Just in Monteverde they are represented 70 of the 103 families of trees reported for the country and 21.23% of orchid’s species.