A core reality in wildland conservation is “Use it or lose it”. And when you use it, something has to restore it. Footprints must mostly erase, or the use is not sustainable. The Area de Conservacion Guanacaste (ACG) in northwestern Costa Rica is a 3-decade old and long-term pilot project in tropical wildland biodiversity development and tropical wildland ecosystem development. In summary, it is environmental services development. Some conclusions are already evident:
• Restoring complex tropical wildlands is first and foremost a social endeavor; the technical issues are far less challenging.
• Survival of a large complex wildland, whatever its origin, in the face of humanity's genes and domesticated genomic extensions, requires a major paradigm shift—we cannot afford to perceive the conserved area as “wild”, otherwise known as “up for grabs”.
• Sustainability of a large wildland will only be achieved by bestowing garden status to it, with all the planning, care, investment and harvest that implies.
• All use is impact, all gardens are impacted—restoration is footprint absorption by the garden and occurs at all scales.
• Planning, care, investment and harvest within the wildland garden is achieved through detailed understanding of biodiversity and its ecosystems, AND in simultaneous incorporation of a specific garden's social milieu at local, national and international scales.
• The “achievable” is an ever-shifting and ever-negotiating n-dimensional hyperspace produced by the intrinsic traits of a specific wildland interwoven with the mosaic of social energies and agendas brought to bear on it.