Frequently Asked Questions

1 . What makes Costa Rica's natural resources so amazing and diverse?

Costa Rica's geographical position as a land bridge between North and South America and the importance of having coasts on both oceans. In addition to its tropical location, its varied topography, diverse soils and climate variations make of this small country an extremely diverse place

For this reason, Costa Rica has one of the highest indices of biodiversity per area, as it shelters 4% of the world's biological diversity. Furthermore, Costa Rica has demonstrated its leadership in natural resource conservation, having designated more than 25% of national territory as protected area.

2. What type of institution is INBio?

The National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio) is a non-governmental, non-profit, public interest organization. It was registered officially and legally on October 26, 1989 and it is directed by a General Assembly and a Board of Directors.

3. What is INBio's mission?

To promote an improved awareness of the value of biodiversity to achieve its conservation and improve the quality of human life.

Bruno Laisel, INBio

4. How does INBio fulfill its mission?

INBio fulfills its mission through the integration of the following processes:

1.Generation of knowledge and information

2.Organization and administration of knowledge

3.Transfer of the knowledge to society

These activites are developed through five areas of work: Inventory and monitoring, Biodiversity informaticos, Bioprospecting, Education and Communication, and Conservation.


5. How is INBio financed?

INBio operates under a system of donations similar to that of many non-governmental organizations (NGO). As an institute for scientific research INBio is financed with funds from the interest generated by several trust funds, as well as, funds provided by foundations, bilateral agencies and conservationist NGOs. In addition, the institute depends on a total budget of which 15% comes from private businesses or institutions.

6. What explains INBio's success?

There are many reasons why INBio has become a viable organization, as well as a world leader in the area of the conservation for biodiversity. The following are some of the most relevant aspects:

  • The right circumstances at the right time. The political, scientific and socioeconomic climate in 1989 was appropriate for the creation of a flexible association supported by the government. This support lead to the assuming of the responsibility of the national inventory and other activities related to biodiversity.
  • Political support. Given the high priority that management of biodiversity receives from all sectors of society, INBio has received the support of the various administrations and political parties.
  • Leadership and vision. The founders of INBio had in mind a very clear vision and mission and have been able to inspire and maintain their leadership roles.
  • A commitment with innovation. It has been necessary to continually develop new concepts, for example, the parataxonomists, databases, prospection agreements, bioliteracy campaigns and others.
  • A diversified portfolio. INBio has worked and experimented with various taxonomic groups, agreements and methodologies for research and development in order to fulfill its mission. It is predominantly an institution that learns.
  • Strategic alliances. A key strategy has been to strengthen alliances, locally and internationally, with governmental, academic, private and investigative sectors with the goal of maximizing resources and catalyzing the processes.
  • Teamwork. All tasks are realized by multidisciplinary groups that work through coordination.
7. What is the purpose of the biodiversity inventory?

The inventory does not limit itself to "making lists" of the species of Costa Rica. This program looks to ensure that every species is identified and represented by a specimen that has a name, a sample, a catalogue number and card that contain the fundamental taxonomic information, as well as its geographical information.

The main objective of this inventory is that all the accumulated information allows the Institute, and therefore Costa Rica, to:

  • Generate knowledge on the diversity of species of Costa Rica
  • Support the conservation of biodiversity and
  • Create opportunities for sustainable development within the economic and social context of the country, for example, the parataxonomist program

8. Who performs the processes of collection and identification of the species?

The inventory group consists of four taxonomy work teams:

Parataxonomists: collect specimens and field information. They are a group of men and women from the rural areas of Costa Rica who have been trained to collect and mount plant, insect, mollusk and fungi specimens. Apart from supplying information on the natural history of the specimen these individuals act as disseminators in their communities and are active participants in the joint processes between INBio and the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC). They are the initial link in this process.

Technicians: are responsible for the preparation and preliminary identification of the specimens. They separate them by taxonomic group so they can be studied by the curators and experts that collaborate with the institution.

Photo: Bruno Laisel, INBio

Local Curators: are internal specialists responsible for identifying each collected specimen. This is a process which can take months, even years.

National and foreign Experts: these specialists visit INBio and work on the collections identifying species, especially for those groups in which INBio lacks experience.

9. What is the parataxonomist program?

The parataxonomists are men and women from the rural communities of Costa Rica, near protected areas, that receive an intense practical course at a vocational level that lasts 6 months. It covers the fundamentals of biology, ecology, taxonomy, evolution, collection and preservation techniques, techniques in data and information handling, equipment maintenance and administration, and everything that an individual has to know to combine individual fieldwork with work as part of a team.

Photo: Manuel Zumbado, INBio

The use of local residents illustrates one of the direct benefits of conservation to the rural communities of the areas. In addition to fieldwork and investigation, the parataxonomists disseminate their knowledge and infuse the value of biodiversity to their own communities and parks through educational programs aimed at their colleagues, neighbors, relatives and local schools.

10. What is biodiversity prospecting?

Prospection is a term that was used originally in the search for minerals, such as oil and precious metals. Bioprospection is the search for new sources of chemical compounds, genes, proteins, microorganisms and other elements existing in biodiversity that posses real or potential economic value.

11. How does Costa Rica benefit from the collaboration of INBio with pharmaceutical and agroindustrial companies?

The agreements bring multiple benefits. 10% of the research budget is destined to Costa Rica conservation areas and 50% of potential royalties will also be destined to conservation areas and development of projects, according to agreed procedures.

In addition, the agreements have given job opportunities to Costa Ricans from different social sectors. Furthermore, there has been a transfer of technology as well as training for Costa Ricans, which has resulted in an improvement of the national technological capability.

INBio archives

12. Why is INBioparque a project unique in its class?

It is unique because it succeeded in synthesizing the understanding of biodiversity with a process of enjoyable learning, where the visitor can learn about the protection, knowledge, and use of the diversity of organisms that can all be found within our same country. The visitor will also have the opportunity to enjoy themselves while learning through various, original and interactive techniques of communication. It is a mix between science center, museum and botanical garden.

Photo: INBio archives

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