Costa Rica has great environmental strengths that are part of its image and historical evolution, and have led it to position itself in the world as a responsible and innovative nation in ecological matters. However, recent studies have identified threats and particular situations that call attention to important vulnerabilities of the protection system, and some ecosystems.
As part of the celebration of the “International Day of Biodiversity“, the Twenty-second State of the Nation Report emphasizes those conservation challenges that have to do with specific ecosystems, such as mangroves and marine resources; Which drew attention to the importance of strengthening the country’s actions in these areas.
A report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said that the reserves of the Talamanca, La Amistad and La Amistad National Park, considered a single unit between Costa Rica and Panama, are at risk from harmful activities such as mining (Which Costa Rica banned by law in 2010, for some modalities), the development of hydroelectric dams and the unsustainable use of water resources.
Another threat that compromises the integrity of ecosystems is forest fires. In the last seventeen years, the area devastated by these events within Protected Wild Areas (ASP) has been in the range of 857 to 9,541 hectares, with its peak in 2001. As a yearly average, between 1998 and 2015, 4,256 hectares In ASP. In 2015 the affected territory was 4,534.
In terms of biodiversity, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recorded that of the 3,812 globally threatened species that are present in Costa Rica, 8.6% are in the categories in critical danger, in Danger or vulnerable. Between 2011 and 2015 the number of species registered in the “Red List” of that organization increased by 12%. 40.5% are plants, 18.7% amphibians and 17.5% fish
In addition, IUCN reported 73 endemic species in the country, of which 54.8% are threatened. Amphibians are the taxonomic group with the highest number of species in this condition (62.5% of the total). According to the “Red List”, the least affected groups are mammals and freshwater crabs. Likewise, in Costa Rica 1,118 species are included in one of the appendices of the “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora”; 68.1% are plants.
With regard to marine coastal resources, formal tools for their protection have been created for several years, but there is evidence that fishery overexploitation persists and that this threatens marine biodiversity.
Several studies provide information on the pressures of marine biodiversity for commercial use. Firstly, the INCOPESCA Technical Scientific Commission (CCT) – established in 2015 – issued a statement on the sardine fishery of the Opisthonema complex in the Pacific Ocean, which states that, despite extensive scientific research, the extraction Shows a progressive decline since 1975.
Among its conclusions indicates that none of the closures applied by INCOPESCA has protected the population of this group of species, nor has it taken into account their spatial distribution at the time of reproduction; That the overexploitation of the resource affects artisanal fishing and that there is no control, nor is there any record of the by-catch occurring in the sardine fishery, despite the provisions of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Law.
In addition, the CCT undertook a review of the implications of the closures in the Gulf of Nicoya in the period 2003-2015 and determined that they have not achieved their objectives, ie they do not safeguard the most vulnerable stages of the life cycle of the species , Do not promote the recovery of the resource nor generate the economic compensation that could be obtained by fishermen for the regeneration of populations.
The results also show that the species that make up the catches have increased or decreased its composition at an alarming rate; The implications that this can cause in the ecosystem, nor in the food chain, are unknown.
In order to address pressures on specific ecosystems, a number of state and private initiatives are underway, such as the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), in 2015, started to implement the project “Conservation, Sustainable Use of Biodiversity And maintenance of ecosystem services of protected wetlands of international importance “.