A photo essay by Dominic Chavez
Costa Rica’s state-run power company, ICE, knows how to implement clean-energy solutions while protecting the environment. For many years, it has measured and mitigated biodiversity impacts during the construction of hydropower projects.
But the planning process for Reventazón, a $1.4 billion hydropower plant built in partnership with IFC and the Inter-American Development Bank, was different. The scale of the challenge required a new approach to ensure the highest standards of environmental responsibility and sustainability.
Since operations began in 2016, here’s how ICE employees and field scientists have been applying responsible business standards.
Eduardo Alvarado is the manager of the Reventazón power station. “This is the first power station in Costa Rica that has both engineers and environmental specialists working on site,” he says.
Mario Castillo Chavez is an ICE forestry engineer who meets with local farmers to discuss and design options for reforestation. Under a program developed by the World Bank, farmers are compensated for planting native species of trees and preserving forested areas.
Every three months, ICE biologists catch, weigh, and release fish at 10 spots along the river to assess the health of the fish population.
Biologist Jorge Leiva (in the fedora) has been involved with Reventazón since its first environmental assessment in 2007. “It was the first time biologists, engineers, management, and lawyers sat down together to focus on a long‑term approach,” he recalls.
Stephanny Arroyo Arce works in Costa Rica as a jaguar scientist for Panthera, a global wildcat conservation organization. She is the handler for Tigre, a Labrador retriever that is being trained to track the diversity of the country’s wildcat populations.
ICE biologists working on the Reventazón project set one of 40 cameras that capture a variety of species in their natural habitat. Costa Rica is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries.
Alexis Quiros Salas plants a bully tree as part of efforts to help local farmers establish new forest cover with native species of trees in the biological corridor near the Reventazón power plant.
Rafael Angel Cordoba Angula and Carmen Garita Alvarado operate a small dairy farm located near the Reventazón project. With help from ICE, the family is employing efficient farming techniques to reduce the amount of land they need for their cows, allowing them to maintain a conservation area on their property.