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Nicaragua - Main Details

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Status and Trends of Biodiversity


Comprising more than half of Nicaragua’s 12 million hectares, the Atlantic slope contains outstanding biological diversity and habitats recognized nationally and globally. The area includes the largest remaining area of relatively pristine forest in all of Central America. Apart from its rich fauna and flora, the area also serves as a vital link in a chain of humid forests stretching from Mexico to Colombia, known as the Atlantic Biological Corridor. Nicaragua hosts a diverse number of species namely: 7,590 plant species with 39 threatened; 200 mammals with 6 threatened; 215 breeding birds with 5 threatened; 179 reptiles with 7 threatened; 61 amphibians and 241 fish with 1 threatened species. Nicaragua’s forests harbor populations of regionally endangered species, such as tapir, harpy eagle, and jaguar, whose survival depend on large areas of undisturbed forests. Nicaragua’s Atlantic slope has fragile soils and, therefore, little agricultural potential. Its economy has traditionally relied on limited exploitation of the region’s natural resources through small-scale forestry, artisanal mining, fisheries, and limited shifting agriculture. In recent years, the nation’s high rate of population growth combined with rural poverty in the more populated Pacific and central zones has increased. Forest clearing for subsistence farming is on the increase in the Atlantic slope, along with extensive livestock operations, commercial logging, mining, and fishing. Some estimate the rate of deforestation in the Atlantic at 2.1 percent of remaining forest cover per year.

Number and Extent of Protected Areas

The total protected land area is 2,810ha, which accounts for almost 21.8% of the total land surface area. 320ha are given over to Nature Reserves, 130 ha to marine and littoral zones and 2,182ha to the only Biosphere Reserve. As of 2003 there exists 88 protected areas.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan was initiated in February 2000. The national strategy is based on 6 identified, immediate objectives. These objectives are further broken down into sub-targets with actions to achieve these sub-targets, the indicators to be used as well as the parties responsible for implementing the measures. The six main objectives are: improve conservation considering it’s integral role in the development of the country; promote the economic viability of biodiversity considering it’s richness and economic value, as well as the costs of its degradation to the country; improve the country’s capacity in the fields of scientific investigation, monitoring and technical assistance for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; develop mechanisms and institutional tools that will allow an improvement of the national response capacity to the degradation of biodiversity; develop and implement legal tools that will improve the national response capacity to biodiversity degradation; and promote respect for the environment in Nicaraguan society as well as provide incentives for a change in attitude in men and women for sustainable management of the country’s biological diversity resources.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

Cooperation with Costa Rica and Honduras has led to the creation of two major, transborder incentives: The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Project and the San Juan River Restoration Project. The Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry are developing investigative measures for the conservation of biodiversity and genetic resources, in order to create a database and generate information on the different fields and objectives of the national strategy. Several results from various incentives include: international cooperation is stressing conservation measures and sustainable use of biodiversity components in all projects that they finance; the production sectors, namely pisciculture, tourism and forestry, have incorporated programs and projects for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in all of their activities; and establishment of biodiversity indicators, in the National System of Environmental Information, that form the base for a national monitoring system.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

Several priority actions were identified for the development of a National Protected Areas network, which include things such as: planning, strengthening and management of the national protected area systems; create and strengthen regional networks, transboundary protected areas and collaboration between adjacent protected areas; guarantee the financial sustainability of protected areas and the national and regional systems of protected areas; assure that scientific knowledge contributes to the creation and efficiency of protected areas and national and regional protected area systems. In 2003, Nicaragua hosted the first Mesoamerican Congress on Protected Areas. Here, Nicaragua signed the Managua Declaration, which led to the training of the Centroamerican Council of Protected Areas and the elaboration of the Regional Program of Protected Areas. The general objective of this regional program is to promote the integral management of the protected areas, contribute to a reduction in biodiversity loss and in the poverty levels of the populations. More specific objectives include regional cooperation and promotion of transboundary area and biological corridor management.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

The Government of Nicaragua has generated a draft bill, the Biodiversity Law, which includes a chapter exclusively for the protection, respect, preservation and maintenance of the knowledge, practices and innovations of the indigenous peoples, ethnic communities and the local populations. They also included, in the Law 290, to the duties of the Minister of the Environment the responsibility of regulating these aspects.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme