It is undeniable that Talamanca is one of the most resourceful zones of the country with the presence of tropical forests in natural, secondary, and agro- forest conditions, among which different models of use are intercalated, creating different gradients of protection and use of the forest. Furthermore, Talamanca is a land that has been blest with a cultural patrimony and a linguistic and ethnic diversity incomparable to other areas of the country.
The region covers a series of protected areas such as: The International Friendship Park (Parque International la Amistad), the Gandoca- Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, the Cahuita National Park, and the Hitoy and Cerere Biological Reserve. Also, there are joint territories of development and conservation, such as the Indigenous Reserves for Talamanca-Bribri, Talamanca-Cabecar, and Kekoldi. In addition, there are some other private and communal areas of protection and natural resources conservation.
Transecting throughout the region of Talamanca, from the Chirripó Peak (4000 msnm) to the continental platform in the Caribbean, 9 of the 12 tropical life zones (Classification of Holdridge) and about 60 % of the faunal diversity of the country (560 kinds of fowls, 215 of mammals, and 250 of amphibians and reptiles) are found.
Indigenous Bribri and Cabecar, Afro-Caribbean black, Asian, Creole, and former banana workers from all over Central America constitute the area's heterogeneous population range in their cultural demonstrations and knowledge systems.
In spite of the biological and cultural wealth, Talamanca is one of the poorest cantons in the country. The Social Development Index (SDI) in the last national census indicated 9.75 for Talamanca in the scale of 0 - 10 of which 10 signifies less development.
Until a little while ago, the infrastructure (communication and transportation) was practically void in the area, and even though the infrastructure conditions have improved since then, the canton continues to present alarming deterioration of economic and social conditions.
The Physiographical conditions of the region constitute serious limitations for the conventional development schemes based solely on the politics of agricultural production. This is subdivided into two sub-regions. The sub-region of High Talamanca is 2,248 Km2 (80% of the canton), of which 2,044 Km2 is protected mountains with slopes with inclinations of greater than 60%, and 204 Km2 is mountainous steps, where a small part of the indigenous population is concentrated. The Low Talamanca has an extension of 562 Km2 (remaining 20 % of Canton), composed of 225 Km2 of hills (8% of the canton), 281 Km2 of valleys (10%) and 56 Km2 of coast (2% surface of the canton), in which most of the population is concentrated. (CATIE-UICN, 1994).
Biological and geographic caracteristics of Talamanca
The preceding is an indicator of the serious limitations that exist in this region for the conventional agricultural development. 88% of the surface of the canton is of forest aptitude, either for protection (majority) or for the forest and agroforestal development, with the exception of the valleys of the hydrographic basins.
Critical situations at the regional level such as the economic crisis of the 80's caused by the monilia disease of the cacao (previously the only cash crop) and its macro – economic repercussions; the impact of the 1991 earthquake; periodical floods; and physiographical limitations hindered the production of small producers trying to meet their subsistence needs and to generate adequate income to secure their basic needs.