A Suburb in Costa Rica Gives Citizenship to Plants, Trees, and Bees

Bees, along with bats, butterflies, and hummingbirds, enjoy honorary citizenship in Curridabat. Pravruti/Shutterstock

If you happen to be a pollinator, you might want to wing your way to sunny Costa Rica. In fact, Curridabat — a suburb of the capital, San Jose — is pulling out all the stops to make bees, bats, hummingbirds, and butterflies feel at home.

They're even offering citizenship.

It's all part of a move begun a decade ago to revitalize Curridabat with an eye for making it the kind of place that pollinators can call home, according to The Guardian.

"Pollinators were the key," former Curridabat education minister Edgar Mora tells the newspaper. "Pollinators are the consultants of the natural world, supreme reproducers and they don't charge for it. The plan to convert every street into a biocorridor and every neighbourhood into an ecosystem required a relationship with them."

To strengthen that relationship, officials pledged to make every pollinator an honorary citizen of the municipality. Today, that commitment is paying dividends, as what was once a modest city suburb has blossomed to earn the nickname, "Ciudad Dulce," which literally means Sweet City.

That's where green corridors and lush foliage are incorporated into the infrastructure, allowing bees and other pollinators — as well as trees and plants — enough space to live and thrive among the municipality's more than 72,000 humans. Those residents also benefit from the greenery that runs through Curridabat's veins. Reforestation projects are designed to soak up air pollution and, of course, the trees provide crucial shade amid the searing summer heat.

And all along those bustling biocorridors, bees, bats, and hummingbirds are free to go about their pollinating ways undisturbed.

"[Other] Latin American cities have been copying European city visions," Irene Garcia, who oversees the Sweet City Project, tells Design Exchange. "They are not similar to our context. This vision is developed by our own experience and it is inspired by nature." With Sweet City, the forest reclaims its rightful place as the most important part of Curridabat, with the city becoming of secondary importance, or as Garcia says: "We don't say the forest in the city, we say the city into the forest.