The Agua Tica Water Fund and LandScale: Achieving integrated watershed management at scale

Tony Nello, IUCN
Published: 15 October 2020
Last edited: 15 October 2020
remove_red_eye 1019 Views


The LandScale Pilot in Greater San José Metropolitan Area, Costa Rica, commenced in 2020 and entails setting up a public-private partnership to restore and conserve the watershed around San José, thereby ensuring sustainable water supply for its people and economy. IUCN is the Implementing Partner while FUNDAECOR and Agua Tica are Strategic Partners. 


Agua Tica is a local water fund that unites key water suppliers and beverage companies to invest in watershed conservation and restoration activities. LandScale enables Agua Tica to track progress at the landscape level towards improving socioeconomic and environmental outcomes, to communicate their achievements to existing funders, and to attract new members or investors. It also serves as a tool to align Agua Tica’s activities with those of other landscape actors to ensure their diverse efforts are resulting in the positive changes they are all striving for.


Central America
Scale of implementation
Rangeland / Pasture
Ecosystem services
Land management
Sustainable financing
Water provision and management
Watershed management
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 3: Incentives reformed
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 9: Invasive alien species prevented and controlled
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company
Direct engagement with associations
Indirect through financial institutions
Indirect through government


San José, San José, Costa Rica


Agua Tica supports regeneration and conservation of forest in 607 hectares of critical water recharge areas through Payment for Environmental Services. It is estimated that, as a result, up to 603.000 m3 of water have been replenished so far.


The use of the LandScale framework is part of Agua Tica’s effort to link to other public and private actors of substantial importance at landscape level, such as the coffee, livestock and sugar cane production sectors, by aligning their goals and ensuring that their activities translate into progress towards common goals.


LandScale provides globally accepted indicators and metrics to assess and communicate sustainability at scale: in the case of the coffee sector, these indicators are suitable to capture the contribution of shade trees and reforestation activities implemented by coffee producers in conserving water and biodiversity habitat at landscape level. In turn, coffee farmers and companies will be able to credibly communicate their contribution to landscape sustainability in order to differentiate their coffee in the marketplace.


Similarly, Agua Tica might use LandScale to support the livestock sector in complying with deforestation-free and on-farm water quality requirements to facilitate access to the EU market, which would provide further incentives to invest in silvopasture and waste management practices for the entire sector.

Contributed by

matthew_38962's picture

Matthew Koehorst Greenpop, IUCN Urban Alliance

Other contributors