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5,000 New Species Found in Costa Rica

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Source: Flickr CC

Source: Flickr CC

Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity is getting richer. According to a recent article published by national news daily La Nacion, researchers and environmental officials in Costa Rica discovered and classified 5,000 new species between 2011 and 2013. This discovery is part of the country’s National Biodiversity Strategy (ENB in Spanish) for 2014-2020, which is part of the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The ENB seeks to classify, investigate and safeguard Costa Rica’s species, which account for almost four percent of the world’s biodiversity. One of the first steps of the ENB is to provide a diagnostic of Costa Rica’s biodiversity, which is constantly exposed to threats such as human population growth, waste, loss of habitats, poaching and exploitation of natural resources, climate change, invasive species, and consumer culture.

The ENB diagnostic will be followed by the creation of policies and a plan of action to implement the strategy. After the policymaking and planning stage, a few mechanisms will be developed for the purpose of exchanging information and to study the economic impact of the environmental services deployed across Costa Rica’s ecosystems.

Aside from complying with United Nations directives, Costa Rica has an obligation to the world in terms of preserving her biodiversity, which is her greatest resource. The UN Strategic Plan for Biodiversity has certain targets that participating countries must strive to achieve. Here are some of those targets:

  • At least halve and, where feasible, bring close to zero the rate of loss of natural habitats, including forests.
  • Establish a conservation target of 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of marine and coastal areas.
  • Restore at least 15% of degraded areas through conservation and restoration activities.
  • Make special efforts to reduce the pressures faced by coral reefs.

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity calls on biologically diverse countries such as Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and others to not only protect their species but also utilize them as resources in a sustainable and equitable manner. The Ministry of the Environment is the supervisory entity with regard to the ENB; the operational entities are the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC in Spanish) and the Biodiversity Management System (CONAGEBio in Spanish).

Costa Rica has more than 500,000 species, and about 300,000 are insects. Not surprisingly, the majority of the new 5,000 species found are insects, although a few orchids, mollusks and mushrooms were found –as well as a few vertebrates, including: fish, reptiles and birds.

The increase in species indicates that Costa Rica’s conservation efforts, including the ongoing reforestation, are paying off.

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