Ecological Blue Flag Program: Samara
The Ecological Blue Flag Program started with the main objective of stimulating and motivating coastal communities to protect the beaches of Costa Rica. Under this program, the beaches are evaluated based on strict criteria. This is the highest possible level of recognition for achieving ecological protection and sustainability in Costa Rica.
The program is directed and administered by the National Blue Flag Commission, which is made up of representatives from the Ministries of Public Health, Environment & Energy, and Education, also the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, the Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute, and the National Chamber of Tourism.
The beaches are evaluated according to the water quality of the ocean and the drinking water, waste disposal, sanitary facilities, tourist safety, provision of environmental education in schools, and involvement of the community in beach maintenance. Only beaches with a score of 90% succeed in receiving the Blue Flag. Once the Blue Flag is awarded, beaches are then monitored on a monthly basis, but if they fail these assessments their Blue Flag could be removed.
The Program awards the Blue Flag with One, Two, or Three Stars depending on the levels of environmental protection, conservation, and community involvement. Communities are awarded One Star for meeting 90% of the environmental protection criteria, Two Stars for meeting 100% of the criteria and contributing to reduction in pesticides within the watershed, and Three Stars for meeting the Two Star criteria and promoting social responsibility in the community and schools.
This Program has successfully helped promote protection of the natural surroundings and increase public knowledge in this issue. The success of the program has inspired authorities to expand it to non-coastal communities as well. Now there are four categories: 1. beaches; 2. schools; 3. communities; 4. zones that protect wooded areas. Each category has its own parameters.