The Savegre River basin, in the Costa Rican Central Pacific coast, was designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
Biosphere reserves are essential for the sustainable development since they promote the conservation of natural resources. This category promotes the strengthening of the cultural identity in the countries.
“They are very useful sites for the scientific community which works in support of the development of sustainability. In other words, they are areas designated as study sites that allow us to get a better understanding of the role of the society in environmental issues” – a UNESCO specialist says.
UNESCO includes new places into this category every year. The organization has designated 23 new sites as biosphere reserves in 2017.
The recognition was made in Paris. Costa Rica now has four biosphere reserves, but this is its first coastal and marine site declared as a biosphere reserve by such organization, since Savegre River is one of the Manuel Antonio National Park’s water areas. The following list includes the other Costa Rican biosphere reserves:
La Amistad (1982)
Cordillera Volcanica Central (Central Volcanic Range) (1988)
Agua y Paz (2007)
Savegre River’s basin stands out for its biodiversity. It hosts 20% of the Costa Rican flora, as well as 54% of the mammals and 59% of the birds in the country. The basin extends across four cantons (Dota, Tarrazú, Perez Zeledon and Quepos), and 7 seven protected areas (Manuel Antonio National Park, Cerro Nara Protection Zone, Silvestre Mixto Portalon Animal Sanctuary, Silvestre Mixto Hacienda Barú National Reserve, Los Santos Forest Reserve, Quetzales National Park, and Cerro Vueltas Biological Reserve. At the same time, the new biosphere reserve encompasses three biological corridors (Paso de la Danta, Naranjo River, and Los Santos) and these water basins: Paquita River, Naranjo River, Savegre, and Baru River.
It has a total population of 50,000 inhabitants, who mostly work as farmers, croppers, and fishers, yet they have been recently working to boost eco-tourism in the region as well.
Why was Savegre water basin previously nominated by Costa Rica? The idea sought to improve Savegre water basin management. Amigos de la Naturaleza del Pacífico Central y Sur Association along with other organizations took the lead to make this world recognition possible. Savegre is now recognized as another biosphere reserve, but it’s still under the sovereignty of the Costa Rican state.
Since this reserve is still under the jurisdiction of Costa Rica, the government has the responsibility to keep the water basin unpolluted and in good condition. One of the ways to protect this territory is the prohibition of dam construction, something that was established in the Executive Decree 39199 – MINAE issued two years ago, also known as Environmental Protection of Pacuare and Savegre Rivers.
Following this recognition, the government plans to start a consultation process with the residents of the area, small producers, fish farmers (cultivation of marine species), and town councilors. The Office of the Ombudsman has made it clear that the designation of the basin as a biosphere reserve won’t affect restrict land use and the utilization of the other natural resources in Savegre.
Savegre Biosphere Reserve extends all the way through 313,000 hectares and houses over 54% of bird species in Costa Rica.