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Costa Rica - Country Profile

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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Costa Rica’s continental terrestrial ecosystems encompass forests, wetlands, páramos (moors) and mangroves, covering an estimated area of 28,419.32 km2 (55.6%), although landscapes are fragmented and few blocks of high integrity exist today. The best preserved ecosystems are usually in areas with steep slopes, heavy rain, or in floodplains and/or part of protected wild areas. Since 2010, forest cover has been maintained at 52%, however varies according to ecosystem type and is being observed due to threats that persist. Dry forests reveal high alteration as well as recovery over the last decade, however are nevertheless highly vulnerable. Forests in cold and damp soils and cloud forests have low to moderate levels of deterioration, and a high percentage of these forests is unprotected. Since the 1990s, the coverage of páramos (moors) has declined, as has that of mangrove forests. Many wetlands moreover reflect a high degree of deterioration due to residual pesticides that accelerate eutrophication processes. Notably, coral reefs have recently revealed a slight improvement in status compared to steep losses sustained in the 1980s and 1990s, although their status at present is highly vulnerable.

There has been a positive turnaround in populations of groups of amphibians, although there are also reports of species considered possibly extinct (e.g. Incilius holdridgei). The status of groups of amphibians remains highly vulnerable and requires critical attention. As for mammals, monitoring studies conducted over more than 20 years in Corcovado National Park reveal a decrease in jaguars and their prey, however a stabilization of pumas and peccaries. A declining trend has also been revealed in tapir populations. According to expert opinion, all marine fish species of commercial interest have declined and, while populations of some birds have been reduced, others have recovered.

There are cases where the genetic diversity of agricultural ecosystems, such as the wild relatives of the bean (Phaseolus), has been lost due to urban development or reforestation. More intensive agricultural practices are now occurring, with areas for cultivating pineapple, rice, sugar cane and African palm expanding, which can lead to encroachment on the protected areas of rivers and streams and violation of the Forest Act. Shrimp production has decreased from a record high of 5,000 metric tons per year during the 1990s to 1,000 metric tons per year nowadays.

As a result of the country’s transformation from an agriculture-based economy to an economy based more on tourism and related services, considerable investment is being made in biodiversity conservation through, for example, the establishment of a system of conservation areas and biological corridors. Furthermore, the country aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2021.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main direct pressures on biodiversity identified in the fourth national report (2009) persist today, namely: habitat loss (land use changes), unsustainable mining/overexploitation of resources, pollution/sedimentation and climate change.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2000-2005) addresses 13 strategic areas, including biological aspects (ecosystems, species and genes) and socioeconomic aspects, as well as the responsible stakeholders. This NBSAP is still under implementation. The following information is contained in the fifth national report (2014) and highlights the degree of progress achieved between 2010 and 2013 (since the fourth national report was prepared in 2009) towards the 13 strategic areas:

High
Strategic Area 7 – In situ conservation

Medium-High
Strategic Area 11 – Internalization of costs of environmental services and incentives
Strategic Area 12 – Marine and coastal resources

Medium
Strategic Area 4 – Research and investigation
Strategic Area 8 – Ex situ conservation
Strategic Area 9 – Access to genetic resources and distribution of benefits
Strategic Area 10 – National capacity associated with GMOs

Medium-Low
Strategic Area 1 – Adverse affects of production activities
Strategic Area 2 – Land planning
Strategic Area 3 – Inter-institutional and intersectoral coordination
Strategic Area 5 – Information exchange
Strategic Area 6 – Public awareness-raising
Strategic Area 13 – Capacity-building for biodiversity management

In August 2013, Costa Rica began a process to develop a National Biodiversity Policy, as well revise and update its NBSAP, while taking into account the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Targets.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The results of a preliminary assessment conducted on the degree of progress achieved to date towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets are provided below. Actions regarding Target 17 (NBSAPs adopted as policy instrument) and Target 20 (Financial resources from all sources increased) are in process although progress is not assessed in the fifth national report.

High
Target 11 (Protected areas increased and improved)

Medium-High
Target 3 (Incentives reformed)

Medium
Target 1 (Awareness increased)
Target 2 (Biodiversity values integrated)
Target 5 (Habitat loss halved or reduced)
Target 7 (Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry)
Target 10 (Pressures on vulnerable ecosystems reduced)
Target 13 (Genetic diversity maintained)
Target 15 (Ecosystems restored and resilience enhanced)
Target 16 (Nagoya Protocol in force and operational)
Target 19 (Knowledge improved, shared and applied)

Medium-Low
Target 4 – Sustainable consumption and production
Target 6 – Sustainable management of marine living resources
Target 9 – Invasive alien species prevented and controlled
Target 12 – Extinction prevented
Target 14 – Ecosystems and essential services safeguarded
Target 18 – Traditional knowledge respected

Low
Target 8 – Pollution reduced

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Costa Rica adopted a Law on Biodiversity (No. 7788) in 1998, and is currently developing a Biodiversity Policy. More recently, the following instruments have been adopted: Law on Wildlife Conservation (amended in 2012); Forest Law Regulations (amended in 2010); National Program on Wetlands and National Committee on Wetlands (created under decree in 2011); Decree on Regulations for Marine Protected Areas Categories (amended in 2010); Decree establishing the first seamounts marine management area around Isla del Coco (adopted in 2011); Fisheries and Aquaculture Law Regulations (adopted by decree in 2011). Following an analysis undertaken on the environmental legal framework, a number of legislations were amended between 2010 and 2012 to integrate incentives and best practices.

In terms of institutional structures, the National Council of the Sea was adopted by decree in 2010. Also, the Ministry of Environment and Energy was internally restructured by decree in 2010, including the creation of the Division for Marine Resources outside of the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC).

A new manual for classifying land dedicated to natural resource conservation within the maritime terrestrial zone was published in 2010. In 2011, this manual was acknowledged under decree as acceptable for classifying land suitable for forestry.

In 2010, Golfo Dulce, a long, narrow inlet on the Pacific, was declared a Marine Area for Responsible Fisheries.

In spite of the large number of sectoral and intersectoral plans and strategies that exist to contribute to the integrated management of biodiversity, a lack of operational institutional linkages, prioritization,

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

A system for comprehensively monitoring the status of biodiversity in the country is absent.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme