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Costa Rica implements an instrument for greening and protecting flora and fauna in urban areas of the GAM

  • First in the country and unique in Central America, Atlas de Servicios Ecosistemáticos de la GAM (Atlas of Ecosystem Services in the GAM) will allow linking territorial planning with the benefits of nature in urban settlements.

May 20, 2021. Costa Rica enjoys a unique tool in the country of free access that will allow the greening and protection of flora and fauna in urban areas of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM, its Spanish acronym), facilitating the linking of territorial planning with the benefits of nature in urban settlements and peri-urban environments.

The Atlas of Ecosystem Services of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), the first in Central America, was developed by CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), in coordination with GIZ, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE, its Spanish acronym) and the technical support of the Helmholtz Institute for Environmental Studies.

"With maps and statistics of the GAM, this tool provides geospatial information to decision makers and different publics, in order to guide them to identify and implement strategic projects to green their cantons, improving the quality of life of urban dwellers," said Andrea Meza, Costa Rica's Minister of Environment and Energy.

The Minister also noted that this effort represents the importance for the country to be a pioneer in land use planning, the fight against climate change and the mapping of the benefits of ecosystem services, especially in an area such as the GAM with its Interurban Biological Corridors of the Torres River and María Aguilar, in order to promote sustainable development and a green economic reactivation.

In highlighting the functionality of this tool, Maike Potthast, of the German Development Cooperation GIZ, commented that the identification of sites of conflict, combined with demographic statistics, makes it possible to establish strategies that consider nature as a transversal axis to improve the living conditions of city residents. This atlas represents an effective tool for rethinking territorial planning from this integral perspective:  nature, people and development.

In this context, the tool helps to identify sites where the presence of nature generates various benefits for the inhabitants, such as recreation and food production spaces and a more pleasant microclimate, making it possible to determine strategies to conserve them in the long term. It also facilitates the identification of regions with poor links to ecosystem services for the future search for green infrastructure solutions.

Cristian Brenes, researcher at CATIE's Ecosystem Modeling Laboratory, emphasized that for the first time the country has an objective instrument for the analysis and construction of policies and actions that ensure the well-being and joint harmony of nature and the population of the GAM.

"This new platform allows us to amplify the impacts of human population management in conjunction with the benefits of nature, to reduce our ecological footprint and improve people's well-being. It will provide civil society, the scientific and academic community, as well as local governments, with first-hand environmental data and information to support the decision-making process," Brenes said.

The atlas shows two scales of analysis; the GAM with its 31 cantons, as well as greater detail for the Interurban Biological Corridors of the Torres River and María Aguilar and related cantons.

In terms of thematic components, the instrument provides six major blocks: ecosystem services, biodiversity, urban warming, green infrastructure, land use and land cover and, finally, ecological connectivity.

This new atlas is the first initiative in the country designed to quantify the benefits of ecosystems in urban areas. All the information contained in the atlas is integrated into the National Territorial Information System (SNIT, its Spanish acronym). The Atlas of Ecosystem Services of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) is now available at www.atlasverde.org





More information:


Cristian Brenes
Ecosystem Modeling Laboratory
Climate Action Unit
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