Costa Rica has a unique tool in the country with free access that will allow the greening and protection of flora and fauna in urban areas of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), facilitating the linking of territorial planning with the benefits of nature in urban and peri-urban environments.
The “Atlas of Ecosystem Services of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM)”, the first in Central America, was developed by the Tropical Agronomic Center for Research and Teaching (CATIE), in coordination with GIZ, Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) and the technical support from the Helmholtz Institute for Environmental Studies.
“With maps and statistics from the GAM, this tool provides geospatial information to decision makers and different audiences, in order to guide them to identify and implement strategic projects for greening their cantons and improving the quality of life of urban inhabitants”, explained the Minister of Environment and Energy, Andrea Meza.
A pioneer in the region
He added that “this effort represents the importance for the country of being a pioneer in land use planning, fighting climate change and mapping the benefits of ecosystem services, especially in an area such as the GAM with its Interurban Biological Corridors of the Río Torres and María Aguilar, in order to promote sustainable development and a green economic reactivation”.
When highlighting the functionality of this tool, Maike Potthast, from the German Cooperation for Development GIZ, commented that “the identification of conflict sites, combined with demographic statistics, allows establishing strategies that consider nature as a transversal axis to improve conditions life of the inhabitants of our cities. This atlas represents an effective tool to rethink land use planning from this comprehensive perspective: nature, people and development”.
In this context, the tool helps to identify places where the presence of nature generates various benefits for the inhabitants, such as spaces for recreation and food production and a more pleasant microclimate, making it possible to determine strategies to conserve them in the long term. Likewise, it facilitates the identification of regions with little connection to ecosystem services for the future search of green infrastructure solutions.
Cristian Brenes, a CATIE official highlighted that for the first time in the country, they have an objective instrument for the analysis and construction of policies and actions that ensure the well-being and joint harmony of nature and the population of the GAM.
“This new platform allows us to expand the impacts of managing human populations in conjunction with the benefits of nature, to reduce our ecological footprint and improve people’s well-being. It will provide civil society, the scientific and academic community, as well as local governments, with first-hand data and environmental information, with which the decision-making process is supported”, he reported.
The atlas shows two scales of analysis; the GAM with its 31 cantons, as well as greater detail for the Interurban Biological Corridors of Río Torres and María Aguilar and related cantons. Regarding the thematic components, the instrument makes six major blocks available: ecosystem services, biodiversity, urban warming, green infrastructure, land use and cover and, lastly, ecological connectivity.
This new atlas becomes the first initiative in the country designed to quantify the benefits of ecosystems in urban centers. All the information contained in the atlas is integrated into the National Territorial Information System (SNIT).
The Atlas of Ecosystem Services of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) is now available by entering www.atlasverde.org