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Plan to improve the environmental quality of the Grande de Tárcoles river basin in Costa Rica becomes a reality

  • CATIE and the company Sistemas Geoespaciales S.A. prepared a plan with 15 programs, 54 projects and an investment of more than 53 million dollars.

April 28, 2021. With the objective of improving the environmental quality of the Grande de Tárcoles River in Costa Rica, CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) and the company Sistemas Geoespaciales S.A. (SGSA, its Spanish acronym) presented the Management Plan for the Management of the Grande de Tárcoles River Basin as part of a consultancy between the two institutions. 

The work was carried out at the request of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE, its Spanish acronym) and the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC, its Spanish acronym) and lasted 18 months, during which time a diagnosis and management plan was developed that gathered information on soils, hydrography, human settlement, contamination, influence of climate change, socioeconomic indicators, among other aspects of the watershed.

According to Jorge Faustino, CATIE's expert in watershed management, based on this diagnosis and its indicators, the plan proposes to work on seven thematic areas: water resources, land use planning, environmental education and citizen participation, risk management, ecosystem management, agricultural and forestry production, and governance.

The document includes a matrix of 15 programs, 54 projects and an investment of more than 53 million dollars; all of this with the objective of achieving (in a 30-year projection, under the modality of multiple phases), the integrated management of water resources in order to balance the demand for water with the processes of conservation, rehabilitation and management of water within the natural, social and economic systems around this basin.

Faustino indicated that the Grande de Tárcoles river is one of the most important watersheds for Costa Rica, since its main challenge is the decontamination of its water. "On other occasions CATIE has prepared natural resource management plans, but in this case it is a little different because emphasis was placed on governance, legal aspects and policies, which are factors that facilitate the management of the plan," said Faustino.

For Javier Saborío, coordinator of the consulting firm CATIE-SGSA, the work carried out by the consortium went further, as it not only provided an instrument for the effective improvement of the basin, but also the way in which it should be applied, making changes of a legal nature and to the structure currently used by the Rio Grande de Tárcoles Basin Commission (CRGT, its Spanish acronym,).

"I think a great achievement was that we took the products to more and never to less, there were always products that are not only those seven that were delivered, but behind that, the endorsements are very strong and were duly documented in the information that was delivered to SINAC," explained Saborío.

The leaders of the consulting team agreed that now comes the most difficult stage, the execution of the plan, since for this phase it is necessary to be well organized, have the necessary resources, financing and political support.

"For this we have proposed a mechanism called Mesas de Cooperación (cooperation roundtables), a means to manage economic resources. In the case of organization and political support, we made a proposal to improve governance and a proposal to improve the legal framework," commented Faustino.

Following the completion of this consultancy, Faustino added that CATIE expects to continue collaborating with MINAE and SINAC in training and other initiatives related to this plan.


More information:

Jorge Faustino
Expert in river basin management and operation
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Written by:

Daniel Cedeño Ramírez
Communications Assistant
Information Technology and Communication
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