Biodiversity in Costa Rica

Biodiversity in Costa Rica

Let’s start right away with a fun fact: Costa Rica covers only 0.3% of the Earth’s surface, but you will find almost 5% of the world’s flora and fauna species! Per area, Costa Rica has the highest biodiversity in the world!

In this blog, we will tell you more about these topics:

  • Costa Rica’s species diversity
  • the COP15 biodiversity summit and the 30×30 target
  • the financing of conservation in Costa Rica
  • why biodiversity is so important, and
  • the acquisition and protection of rainforest

Costa Rica’s species diversity

Quetzal Costa RicaCosta Rica’s forests contain an enormous wealth of species. It is home to plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.

In total, there are thousands of species of invertebrates, around 150 species of amphibians, around 215 species of reptiles, around 900 species of birds and more than 240 species of mammals. Typical Central American animals also found in Costa Rica include the quetzal and the strawberry frog. Large cats such as the jaguar also have their habitat here. Costa Rica is home to over 12,000 different plant species including 1,200 species of orchids.

COP15

COP15, the 15th United Nations biodiversity summit, took place in Montreal from 7 to 19 December 2022. At this summit, UN member states discussed global approaches to biodiversity loss, conservation and access to natural resources. This biodiversity summit was a UN meeting of all countries affiliated to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and two associated Protocols: the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources. The main goal of the conference? The adoption of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Both economically, socially and financially, real action must be taken to halt global biodiversity loss and global livability by 2030.

The 30×30 target

A key outcome of the CBD: the Conference on Biodiversity, is the agreement to halt biodiversity loss by 2030. This biodiversity crisis is illustrated by the loss of birds around the world. Did you know that as many as one in eight species of birds are threatened with extinction?

The 30×30 target was created to conserve and protect 30% of the land and ocean area by 2030. After years of discussing ’30×30′, we think this is a clear victory.

It is important that the new areas to be protected are really important nature areas and that they are also managed properly and effectively.

You will join us, won’t you? Adopt your own piece of rainforest in Costa Rica here.

Financing nature conservation

What is the biggest gain of the nature summit you will think? That is that agreement was reached on financing nature conservation. 200 billion euros a year will be released for this purpose, part of which is earmarked as development money, paid for by rich countries. Also new is the important recognition that indigenous peoples and local communities, who manage a quarter of the earth, have a major role to play in managing and conserving nature. Indeed, they possess the indispensable knowledge passed down from generation to generation that is needed for this purpose.

Why is biodiversity so important?

Biodiversity, or species diversity, is what makes up our natural world. It includes all types of plants, animals and micro-organisms, and even genetic variations in them. All these species work together in an ecosystem, creating balance in nature.

Species of animals and plants are interdependent. Predators and prey, animals and the plant species they eat, fungi in the soil and tree roots.

The more diverse an area, the more connections between organisms, the richer and more resistant it is to changes such as climate change, diseases and pests. If one species cannot withstand a change, other species can take over without the whole system collapsing. Think of it as a block tower: taking away one block will not cause the tower to collapse, but as more and more blocks are taken away, the tower will topple.

Almost everything we eat can be traced directly or indirectly to biodiversity – wild or domesticated. The FAO calculates that three quarters of all agricultural crops worldwide depend on pollinators such as wild bees and hoverflies. We also source the bulk of our building materials, medicines and industrial raw materials from biological resources. And many forms of tourism depend on nature. “Biodiversity therefore also represents enormous economic value”.

Biodiversity affects us every day: our food, our mental health, climate change, half the world’s economy… In short, protecting biodiversity means protecting ourselves!

Buying rainforest in Costa Rica

We can prevent biodiversity loss if we purchase and manage areas. Costa Rica is a country where this is quite possible. So by protecting the rainforest in Costa Rica, we protect many more plants and animals on net than anywhere else in the world.

Good news: the government of Costa Rica supports these initiatives!

There is a grant scheme (based on CO2 offsetting) that provides conservation organisations with annual funds if nature is managed sustainably. Moreover, Costa Rica has had a stable democratically elected government for decades and also a well-functioning land registry, which records property.

Costa Rica is sparing of its natural resources and has given some 25 per cent of its land area protected status as a national park or nature reserve. Unfortunately, deforestation is increasing. The rainforest is essential for maintaining biodiversity and sequestering CO2. In addition, the rainforest is an important food and medicine source for local people and international science. The rainforest is threatened by human activities, such as agriculture (banana or pineapple plantations), road building and the extraction of raw materials and timber. The best way to protect it is to purchase endangered pieces of rainforest with a local foundation and give it protected status. By managing it yourself, you take it out of economic use.

Already 230 hectares of nature reserve under management

Through active donor recruitment, the Adopt Rainforest Foundation now has 230 hectares of nature reserve under management! This reserve is strategically located between Barbilla National Park and the protected Cabecar Indian Reserve. And serves as a buffer between these two nature reserves and the vast banana plantations. The pressure on the rainforest is well felt in this region. From the inhabited world, deforestation is pushing further and further towards the National Park and the Indigenous Reserve. The foundation’s work is therefore badly needed here to counter the loss of biodiversity.

By actively involving local people in this project, we are creating more and more awareness about how important it is to protect nature. And we hope to reduce illegal logging and hunting.

Would you like to read more about the Adopt Rainforest Foundation and its activities? Then click here

Long-term research project with Utrecht University

Stichting Adopteer Regenwoud’s research project is entering an exciting new phase thanks to a long-term collaboration with Utrecht University. The foundation was ready for a new step to professionalize the research project and Utrecht University was looking for a stable and reliable partner in Central America to conduct solid research in the rainforest. So for both parties this is a wonderful collaboration! Because of this we will make a big step in professionalizing our current research on biodiversity in our reserve. Together with the visiting students we will focus on scientific research in which the diversity and development of nature in our reserve, with an emphasis on flora, is central.

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Strawberry poison dart frog

By Zoƫ Schreurs

In Costa Rica, you can’t ignore them: the Oophaga pumilio. Pumilio means dwarf, and although they are barely 3 cm tall, it is hard to miss the poisonous strawberry frogs. In English, they are called Strawberry Poison Dart frogs because indigenous peoples used to use their poison to makepoison darts. They are also affectionately called the “blue jeans frog,” because they often look like red frogs in jeans. Although they are by no means all the same colors. There are some that are completely red or blue, rather yellow, green or orange, or with black stripes or dots. In total, there are some 15 to 30 color variations.

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How to bring the tropical rainforest into your home

With green plants that originated in the tropical rainforest. By: Annemarie Silkens Costa Rica is known for its amazing flora and fauna, especially in the rainforests and cloud forests. Costa Rica‘s plant world is very extensive and varied. Over 12,000 different plant species (of which more than 1200 species of orchids!) are found. Climate, soil […]

The most special sighting in our reservation so far!

In recent years we have already seen many rare and unusual animals in our reserve such as the Northern Nacked-tailed Armadillo, Black-and-White Hawk-Eagle and several felines. However, what we recently encountered is many times more interesting to scientists. In 1989, Epigomphus houghtoni, the Limon Knobtail, a dragonfly species was described by Stephen Brooks based on […]

Morpho butterfly in Costa Rica

This beautiful blue butterfly, measuring up to 15-20 cm, seems to appear and disappear with every flick of its wings. In fact, its underside is a clever trick of Mother Nature. On the underside, it is inconspicuous reddish-brown, with eyes to deter attackers. The bright iridescent blue, in turn, is to deter competition and attract females.

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