Biodiversity in Costa Rica

Biodiversity is a resource with enormous potential, both for intellectual and economic purposes and as an instrument for a country’s development.

The tropical zones of the American continent (Neotropics), where Costa Rica is located, contain a greater diversity of species and ecosystems, as well as a broader range of interactions, compared with other tropical regions of the world. Obviously, this diversity is also much greater than that of temperate and cold regions.

With a land area of only 51.100 km2 (0.03% of the planet’s surface) and 589.000 km2 of territorial waters, Costa Rica is considered to be one of the 20 countries with greatest biodiversity in the world. Its geographic position, its two coasts and its mountainous system, which provides numerous and varied microclimates, are some of the reasons that explain this natural wealth, both in terms of species and ecosystems. The more than 500,000 species that are found in this small country represent nearly 4% of the total species estimated worldwide. Of these 500,000 species, just over 300,000 are insects.

The institution charged with the task of administering Costa Rica’s biodiversity is the Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE), and more specifically to the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), which is responsible for the conservation and sustainable use of the country’s biodiversity. SINAC has 11 Conservation Areas distributed throughout the country and is headed by a Directorate that provides technical support.

The 11 Conservation Areas are the different regions established by MINAE to undertake a decentralized management of biodiversity, with the active participation of the communities surrounding the protected wildland areas. This participation is of vital importance for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity at the local, national and global level. INBio has worked very closely with SINAC since its foundation, and especially from 1998 onwards, through theINBio-SINAC Joint Program.

A little over 25% of the country’s territory is under some category of protection, and this percentage is increasing thanks to the support of the private sector, which has created many private reserves dedicated mainly to ecotourism and research. This is a conservation effort that few countries in the world have undertaken and in which Costa Rica has invested substantial resources for the well-being of present and future generations.

The knowledge obtained through inventories and scientific studies and their appreciation by society, plays an essential role in ensuring the long-term conservation of the country’s protected areas and natural resources. Studies have been conducted to provide both basic and applied information on the country’s biological riches (what exists, where, what it can be used for, conservation status, etc.), prepared by numerous public and private institutions, as well as by NGOs.

During the past 5 years in particular, greater emphasis has been placed on implementing studies that include methodologies for the evaluation of benefitsprovided by the protected areas and the resources they protect; ecological tourism (ecotourism), fishing, medicinal plants, bioprospecting and environmental service payments (ESPs) are just some examples of the issues that have been analyzed in these terms (link to uses of biodiversity and “Documents of interest”). Parallel to the economic appraisal of biodiversity that is being carried out in Costa Rica and elsewhere in the world, public and private institutions and organizations are supporting environmental education and public awareness programs to contribute to a change of attitude towards Nature in society.

Costa Rica has a very comprehensive legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. This has been strengthened with the enactment of the Biodiversity Law, approved in 1998, and the formulation of the National Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity, using a highly participatory process at the local and national levels. The National Strategy was completed and officially adopted in 1999. The Biodiversity Law establishes that the National Commission for Biodiversity Management (CONAGEBIO), together with SINAC, is responsible for the administration of the country’s natural resources.

To complement national efforts to create a legal framework for biodiversity conservation, Costa Rica has also signed and ratified various international and regional agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the CITES agreement that regulates the trade in endangered species, and the Wetlands or RAMSAR Convention, among many others.

National Planning and Legislation Support

Since its begginings, INBio has promoted, supported and been part of the creation of different types of policies and legal tools, which aim to encourage the national biodiversity’s conservation and regulate the use of the goods and services provided by it.

This way, INBio’s work has mainly focused on supporting the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), the Biodiversity Management National Commission (CONAGEBIO) and other entities that are associated to the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET).  On the other hand, INBio actively participates in several national commissions and specialized groups that have promoted or have been part of the creation of helpful tools in topics such as: communities’ sustainable development and tourism.

As part of this support, INBio generates and processes general information about the national biodiversity and its experience in topics related to accessing genetic resources, inventories and systematization of the information, is transferred and used in very diverse ways by users related to developing these legal and political tools.

Likewise, the support is also expressed through coordinating and participating in workshops and meetings seeking to accomplish a general consent amongst different actors involved in developing these tools.

 

Here we number the main legal, politic and planning tools in which INBio took place both creating and implementing them:

Legislaciones

Ley de Biodiversidad y su Reglamento. 1998 (Reglamento se elaboró 10 años después en el 2008).

 

  • Biodiversity Law ant its regulations. 1998 (The Regulations were made 10 years later on 2008) 
  • National Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Uses Strategy.  2000
  •  National Climate Change Strategy. 2010
  • Country Reports on the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity: Four National Reports from 1999 to 2010.
  • Drafting of the “Harmony with Nature” Chapters in the Nation’s State Reports, CONARE. 2005 and 2007 to 2009.  Up until now, each year INBio participates with information about the progress of the National Biodiversity Inventory.
  • Government Programs: From the Forest to Society (1994) and Peace with Nature (2006)

 

On the national program commissions, from which INBio is active member, other planning and legal tools are also promoted, as well as the proposal of diverse national and local topics:

  • Small Donations Program, Global Environmental Fund-GEF, through PNUD.  Member since 2003
  • Biological Corridors National Program’s and Biological Corridors Net Assessing Committee.  Member since 2009
  • Granting and Monitoring of the Touristic Sustainability Certification (CST). ICT Commission. Member since the beginning of the Commission
  • National Ecotourism Association (CANAECO).  Member since 2010.

Toma desiciones conservación

On the other hand, INBio manages two funds on Debt-For-Nature, one with Spain and the other one with USA.  In both funds, the managing function is related to the implementation of the established objectives that came to be through INBio’s or third parties’ projects, specifically NOG’s.  These objectives are related to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity on a particular region such as the North Region, in Spain’s case, and 6 prioritized geographic areas related to the results of Cranes II and Forest conservation, in USA’s case.

II Nature Debt Exchange

Cerro de la MuerteAn Exchange to benefit the forest

Costa Rica’s government has looked to lean on bilateral and multilateral cooperation initiatives to strengthen all biodiversity’s conservation efforts in ecosystem’s mitigation services and climate change’s adaptation.

The second nature- debt Exchange promotes forest conservation by financing projects that consolidate all Protected Wild Areas prioritized in the programs developed by the Costa Rica por Siempre Association.  The exchange works by reassigning the external debt from Costa Rica to the United State’s government, to a fund that finances protection and conservation of the tropical forests.

As part of the accomplishment of the commitments made to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the government has established the conservation national goals, which are founded on technical and scientific criteria, through which the protected areas to be worked on, were established and in this way improve the ecological representation, management effectiveness, and response to climate change’s national impact. 

INBio as an eligible entity

INBio as an eligible entity by the Costa Rica por Siempre Assosiation (ACRXS), presented five different offers on april 23rd 2012.  The ACRXS supervision committee, evaluated the propossals and selected the following:

  1. Methodological proposal to update the National Research Strategy on Biodiversity and Cultural Resources.
  2. A project on the geographical area of Osa-Central Pacific, including:
    1. Scientific research and related activities to deal with the conservation of the Naranjo-SavegreCurrently on the checking stage.
    2. General Management Plan on the Las Vueltas Biological Reserve.
    3. General Management Plan on the Peñas Blancas Wildlife Refuge.
    4. General Management Plan on the Protected Area of Escazú

On this site you will be able to find further technical and financial reports from these proposals.  We will keep you informed.

 

National Conservation Context

Because of its social and economical conditions, its extraordinary biological wealth – 500.000 estimated  species that represent 5% of the global biodiversity—and its relatively small size; Costa Rica presents ideal conditions to organize, in all concerning aspects, a national effort to conserve its biological diversity.

On this path, the country has taken enormous steps.  On the last four decades, a national park system has been consolidated, to complement the other protected wild areas’ management categories, which all together represent nearly 25% of the national territory.  In 1986, the Natural Resources, Energy and Mines Ministry (MIRENEM) was created, known today as the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET),  which centralized all the regulating and promotion actions relating to conserving and managing the country’s natural resources.

Similarly, and because of the growing concerns regarding a good resource management, the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) was developed by national consent, ant it is run directly under the MINAET responsibility, and supported by private entities.

Furthermore, Costa Rica has developed a national program aiming to conserve most of the biodiversity by using it in a sustainable and equitable way.  Costa Rica’s National Biodiversity Program works under the strategy:

Agalychnis callidryas

 

  1. Saving representative samples of wild biodiversity through the wild protected areas, managed by SINAC – supported by some conservationist NOG’s like the National Park Foundation (FPN), the Neotropical Foundation (FN), the ;Mountain Range Development Foundation (FUNDECOR), amongst others—and the Private Reserve National System managed by the private sector.
  2. To increase the knowledge on the existing biodiversity, mainly on the wild protected areas—this takes place through universities, the National Museum, independent researchers, and the National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio), amongst others—
  3. To look for sustainable and smart uses of theOn this search several institutions take place, amongst them: Instituto Clodomiro Picado, Tropical Agronomist Research and Teaching Center (CATIE), el INBio, and some universities.

 

El fundamento para el Programa Nacional de Biodiversidad se encuentra en el marco definido a nivel internacional con la "La Estrategia Global para la Biodiversidad (WRI, UICN, PNUMA, 1992)" y la "Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre Ambiente y Desarrollo", celebrada en junio de 1992 en Río de Janeiro, Brasil (conocida como Cumbre de la Tierra).

Para más información ver: IV Informe de País

Projects

CNFLOne of INBio’s main contributions has been the formulation of a concept frame for the protection knowledge and use of biodiversity, which is today a national policy.  This frame emphasizes that the best way to conserve biodiversity is through its rightful use to improve the costaricans quality of life, involving the most diverse sectors in society in this process.

INBio has been pointed out in various national and international forums as a pioneer institution on the biodiversity research field.  It also constitutes a private-public management model through the strategic alliance with the Conservation Areas National System (SINAC) and the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET) that has allowed a greater development of a joint agenda that aims toward the completion of goals and incorporates all forces in one effort for conservation.

 

Services:
Rio Frio

  1. Design recommendation for protected areas and biological corridors.
  2. Management plans (conservation).
  3. Support services for territorial planning.
  4. Methodologies design and monitoring development about biodiversity and water conservation state, through bioindicators.
  5. Operation and Installation of biological stations.
  6. Flora and fauna biological monitoring design and development.
  7. Identification of key elements for conservation and management.
  8. Ecosystem identification and characterization.
  9. Insect, plant and fungi identification in laboratories.
  10. Technical assessment and training on oyster mushrooms cultivation.

 

  

 

Proyectos en Ejecución

colores fondo blanco

Desde inicios del 2012, y auspiciada por la Unión Europea, se ejecuta esta iniciativa con la participación del Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio), en asocio con la Fundación para la Paz y la Democracia (FUNPADEM).

Leer más:   Manos a la costa! 

 

 

 

Asesorías

DSC 0008

INBio ofrece a sus clientes soluciones integrales y les genera nuevas opciones, que incidan de manera positiva en la conservación y utilización sostenible de la biodiversidad por medio de sus actividades y proyectos.

Para mas información: Asesorías

More Articles...

  1. Biodiversity