In 1968 the Palo Verde area was chosen as a dry forest site for an OTS project on comparative ecosystem studies funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. This area is one of the few in Central America with remnants of tropical dry forest.
Due to the seasonal concentration of wading birds in its wetlands and the protection of last remnants of neotropical dry forest, the government of Costa Rica declared the site as a National Wildlife Refugee in 1977. In 1980, an adjacent property was aggregated to the conservation unit, and since then both the wildlife refugee and the new propriety become to form what today is known as Palo Verde National Park, with a total extension of 19,800 Ha.
Before becoming a National Park, Palo Verde had been a cattle ranch for more than 50 years. It is believed that heavy grazing along with seasonal fires were the two main forces keeping the seasonal wetland free of invading plant species, such as cattails.
En 1991, the Park was included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance due to: 1) playing an important hydrological, biological and ecological role in the functioning of the Tempisque River Watershed and the Gulf of Nicoya, located 20 km downstream, 2) being a rare wetland within its biogeographic region, 3) having special value for the maintenance of genetic and ecological diversity in the region, 4) serving as valuable habitat for critical periods in the biological cycles of plant and animal species, and 5) hosting on a regular basis a population of over 20,000 waterfowl, including many migratory species such as black-bellied whistling ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis), blue-winged teals (Anas discors), American wigeons (Anas americana), northern shovelers (Anas clypeata) and ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris).
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