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HomeCosta RicaCosta Rica Towns Take the Green Route to Curb Floods

Costa Rica Towns Take the Green Route to Curb Floods

More than 270,000 residents in the cantons of San Rafael, Heredia, Flores, Barba, and Belén endure annual hardships caused by heavy rains and decades of suboptimal urban planning in the Quebrada Seca Río Burío river basin, spanning these five cantons.

In this densely populated area, the German government-supported research group “Urban Water Vision” undertook a comprehensive study of the environmental, social, and infrastructural challenges faced by the inhabitants. The goal was to devise and execute practical, nature-based solutions.

In collaboration with the Center for Research in Sustainable Development (Ciedes) and working closely with local governments and communities, the research group implemented three prototypes of nature-based solutions in the Siglo XXI neighborhood, situated in the canton of Flores. The initiative aimed to enhance socio-ecological conditions in both the neighborhood and the larger watershed.

A key outcome of the project was the publication of the document titled “Green Guides, green infrastructure for the city, its citizens and its rivers.” This compilation outlines actions to facilitate the creation of more green spaces, enhance rainwater retention, and improve water quality in urban areas.

The experts identified several critical issues within this watershed, including riverbank erosion, degradation of water quality, susceptibility to flooding, and the diminishing availability of green spaces for both citizens and biodiversity.

To address these concerns, three prototype nature-based solutions were deployed in the Siglo XXI neighborhood, including a combined system for stormwater runoff attenuation and graywater treatment.

“Nature-based solutions address societal challenges through the protection, sustainable management, and restoration of natural and modified ecosystems for the benefit of both biodiversity and human well-being,” as stated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The research endeavor received funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research through its Sustainability Research Fund (FONA).

Led by Dr.-Ing. Jochen Hack, Professor of Digital Environmental Planning at the University of Leibniz Hannover, this group of experts is committed to exploring innovative approaches to tackle water management challenges through socio-ecological studies and the implementation of nature-based solutions.

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