Costa Rica has a wealth of biosphere reserves, and the number is likely to rise in the future. This is the country’s, and UNESCO’s, way of preserving areas of natural beauty in the country.
On this page, we want to talk a little bit about what biosphere reserves are. We also want to go into depth on the purpose of biosphere reserves. We wrap up by discussing the biosphere reserves of Costa Rica.
What Are Biosphere Reserves?
Biosphere reserves come from a scheme developed by UNESCO, although it is up to local governments to nominate their own biosphere reserves.
You can think of the biosphere as being very similar to a nature reserve or a national park. Although, it does go a little bit beyond that.
A biosphere will have the areas of natural importance i.e. a diversity of animal and plant life. However, there will also be elements where the local community is working towards ensuring that resources are taken from the area in a sustainable manner, and the communities that live around the biosphere reserves will be working toward that.
There are actually three components to any biosphere reserve:
- The protected area. This is the part that humans need to leave well alone.
- The buffer zone, where light activities such as research and education can take place.
- The transition area is where humans can carry out work. However, their work must be contributing to the sustainability of the ecosystem. Essentially, humans are making themselves part of the ecosystem. They aren’t destroying it. They are trying to preserve it.
Biosphere reserves can be any natural area. It doesn’t just have to be land. There are some biosphere reserves that aim to protect marine life, one of which is located in Costa Rica.
What Is The Purpose of Biosphere Reserves?
Biosphere reserves have several different purposes.
Of course, the core purpose is to help protect important habitats from human destruction. It is important that the ecology of an area is protected for as long as possible. This is why that protected area cannot be touched. It will allow animals and plant life to thrive.
The second purpose of these reserves is for research and education. Any country that operates biosphere reserves is required to share any knowledge gained with the rest of the world, particularly when it comes to sustainability. Of course, education and research can also be carried out while the animals and plants are in their natural habitat.
The transition area is the main difference between biosphere reserves and other protected areas. This serves an important role in allowing humans to discover how humans and nature can live harmoniously. UNESCO understands that we do need to harvest natural resources. However, the transition area will allow us to discover ways in which to use land and harvest resources sustainably i.e. with the lowest amount of damage to the area. In fact, ideally, there would be no damage.
Again, all of the work carried out in the transition area is going to be shared with the world. This can allow other countries to also develop sustainable practices when they are working the land.
The Biosphere Reserves of Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a big farming nation. As a result, a lot of the goals of biosphere reserves is to help the country determine the best way in which to carry out agricultural activities sustainably.
Costa Rica has four different biosphere reserves.
La Amistad International Park
This biosphere is shared with Panama. It is arguably one of the most important biospheres in the region, if not the world.
The core of the La Amistad International Park is 0ne of the most biodiverse parts of Central America.
There are hundreds of mammals, fish, reptiles, and plant species in the area. It is also home to several tribes that work on the land in a sustainable manner.
Interestingly, much of the place remains unexplored. Not only would somebody need to navigate particularly tricky rainforest terrain, but also mountain ranges. In the buffer areas, there are ongoing research expeditions. Many of them have uncovered animals and plants that were previously unknown to the world.
Central Conservation Area
This is a large biosphere. It consists of several different national parks and nature reserves. It can be found dead in the center of Costa Rica.
This area, mostly, helps to protect biodiversity around the volcanoes of the region.
Many areas of this region have intense studies carried out by the University of Costa Rica.
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge
This biosphere is another tough area to explore. In fact, the only way to get around this wildlife refuge is by boat.
While marine life is going to be one of the focuses of this wetland area, there will also be a huge amount of focus on birdlife in the region. Each year, thousands upon thousands of rare migratory birds descend upon the area.
The wildlife refuge is also home to several animals that are in danger of extinction e.g. Pumas.
Savegre Biosphere Reserve
This reserve is one of the key areas for sustainable agriculture. Several major plantations are located here, each growing a variety of fruits and vegetables in a sustainable manner.
In recent years, there has also been a wealth of eco-tourism. This has helped to boost the area and provide people with education on the importance of sustaining nature.
This is the only biosphere in Costa Rica that also contains a coastal area. This means that it is helping to protect marine life, and coming up with new ways in which sustainability can be reached along the coast.
Biospheres are important in Costa Rica. It allows a country that derives a lot of its income from farming to do so in a much more sustainable manner. At the same time, it helps to preserve the biodiversity of Costa Rica. While the country may be small, it genuinely is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, and this is something that does need to be protected quite rigorously.