1 . What makes Costa Rica's natural resources so amazing
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
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.
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
3. What is INBio's mission?
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
fulfills its mission through the integration of the
1.Generation of knowledge
2.Organization and administration
3.Transfer of the knowledge
These activites are developed
through five areas of work: Inventory and monitoring,
Biodiversity informaticos, Bioprospecting, Education
and Communication, and Conservation.
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
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
- 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
Who performs the processes of collection and identification
of the species?
The inventory group consists
of four taxonomy work teams:
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.
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.
Bruno Laisel, INBio
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.