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    Costa Rican Protected Natural Areas Make Progress in Adapting to Climate Change

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    Santa Rosa, Guanacaste, Rincón de la Vieja, Tortuguero and Marino Ballena National Parks are some of the protected natural areas that seek to mitigate the effects and adapt to climate change.

    The Asociación Costa Rica por Siempre has channeled close to ₡ 500,000,000 to support the National System of Conservation Areas for actively addressing the effects on the 11 Conservation Areas of our country.

    Protected natural areas (ASP) are not immune to the impact of climate change: problems in the water supply, erosion on beaches, changes in the flowering of plants, displacement of animals, decrease of rainfall or, on the contrary, increase in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, storms and storm surges, among others.

    Against this background, the ASPs are implementing measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change, with the aim of reducing its effects and adapting to its consequences. In this fight, the support of strategic allies, as well as local and regional actors, has been fundamental.

    “From the “Asociación Costa Rica por Siempre” we are helping protected wild areas to adapt to the new conditions that climate change is generating, by supporting the implementation of improvements in the capture and storage of water, promoting actions of biosensitization, the execution of reforestation and ecological rehabilitation processes and the prevention of forest fires, which together ensure the maintenance of the ecological integrity of the ecosystems”, indicated Zdenka Piskulich, Executive Director of the Asociación Costa Rica por Siempre (ACRXS).

    As part of the implementation of the Costa Rica por Siempre program of the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), this organization has channeled close to ₡ 500,000,000, from its private trust and the 2nd US Debt for Nature Swap, with projects that allow ASPs to anticipate the effects of climate change and address the challenges that arise. In addition, supporting the country to implement actions of the National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change of the Biodiversity Sector, and link efforts to country goals established in the National Decarbonization Plan.

    Water for Guanacaste

    “In Guanacaste there are very harsh consequences of climate change in the last 20 years, such as: reduction in the amount of rain, water springs that have disappeared, decrease in amphibian and insect populations, as well as high tree mortality as a consequence from droughts, for which there is an urgent need to secure resources; especially access to water,” said Róger Blanco, coordinator of the Research Program and Technical Director of the Guanacaste Conservation Area.

    This motivated the Conservation Area to work on the development of specific plans for adaptation and mitigation of climate change in the National Parks Santa Rosa, Guanacaste, Rincón de la Vieja and the Bahía Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge, in order to establish and implement actions that allow them to attend and mitigate the effects on the ecosystem services that these protected wild areas provide.

    For example, in the Murcielago sector, improvements were made to the water supply system and the installation of a 10,000-liter storage tank that will facilitate conditions for park rangers, researchers, and tourists. While in Bahía Junquillal the water pump was changed and solar panels were installed to replace the fuel plant. In addition, an extra tank was installed in Playa Naranjo to ensure a constant supply of water 24 hours a day.

    Additionally, the Piñuelita lagoon was rehabilitated as a water reservoir for biodiversity, work is being done on restoring the middle basin of the Cuajiniquil river in protection zones through the planting of native forest species, and a guide is being prepared of school didactics for education in adaptation to climate change that shows local examples of impacts and what the measures may be for their mitigation and adaptation.

    To the rescue of Marino Ballena National Park

    The beaches of the Marino Ballena National Park are an example of coastal erosion due to the effects of climate change. In this place, you can see the exposed roots of the palm trees, their dryness and inclination. Likewise, there is a significant deterioration in their corals and the heating of the sand affects the nesting of animals.

    In addition, Mónica Gamboa, manager of complementary programs at ACRXS, explained that the increase in sea temperature could cause disruptions of tourist and fishing interest. This would affect the community, which depends mostly on “whale watching” tourism in the area.

    Against this background, with the support of ACRXS, the climate change mitigation and adaptation plan for this protected area was drawn up. This establishes a series of measures that will allow the park to conserve tourist attractions and continue to provide other environmental services, such as: carbon capture and protection of the mangrove forest strip for protection against storms, among others.

    In addition, actions have been implemented such as an information and awareness campaign on the subject (aimed at communities and tourists). A solid waste and wastewater management plan was also drawn up to prevent pollution in the park, and a mangrove ecosystem restoration plan was also drawn up.

    Caribbean: a community effort

    For their part, ASPs in the Caribbean also implement different strategies to adapt to the effects of climate change. In the case of the Tortuguero Conservation Area (ACTo), north of Limón, nurseries with native species are built for reforestation and extensive work will be carried out with the communities: acquisition of personal equipment necessary for fire control for officials and volunteer brigades, promotion of good practices for the conservation of wetlands in agricultural and livestock farms, elaboration of a proposal for regulation of speed and a water fleet to reduce the impact of erosion on the banks of canals and rivers, in addition to strengthening the Community Emergency Committees for Disaster Risk Reduction.

    “All these actions seek that the species and priority ecosystems for conservation can adapt to the effects of climate change, since, if no action is taken, in the long term, the consequences could be very negative, since the focal elements of management could even disappear ”, indicated Elena Vargas, director of protected wild areas of ACTo.

    In the south of the province, the Cahuita National Park implemented informative-educational material so that tourists who visit this place follow a series of recommendations to help mitigate the effects of climate change in the park. While in the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, a reforestation plan was developed.

    “The healthier the ecosystems, terrestrial and marine are, the better they will be to deal with climate change. Forests, coral reefs, mangroves and wetlands are the guardians that nature provides to humanity,” Piskulich said.

    By 2021, the ACRXS will invest about ₡ 240,000,000 in climate change adaptation and mitigation projects in the Central Pacific, Tempisque, Guanacaste and Central Conservation Areas.

    ***

    About the “Asociación Costa Rica por Siempre”:

    It is a non-profit, private association, created in 2010, whose mission is to ensure the conservation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems in perpetuity, through the management of funds and alliances with governments, the private sector and civil society.

    For more information and interviews, contact:
    Esteban Alfaro
    Communication Coordinator
    [email protected]  
    Cel. 8812-6428

    www.costaricaporsiempre.org

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