Mangroves and their link to local communities in Costa Rica
Presenta: Ana Margarita Silva Benavides
Escuela de Biología - Universidad de Costa Rica
Costa Rica has an estimated mangrove area of 412 km2. The Pacific coast is longer and has a more complex geomorphology than the Caribbean. It includes many estuaries, gulfs and embayments that provide optimal habitats for mangrove development. Ninety-nine percent of the total mangrove forest of Costa Rica is found on the Pacific coast. This coast supports the highest diversity and greatest structural complexity of mangrove forests. On the North Pacific coast mangrove forests are less structured, with a canopy approximately 20 m height due to the long dry season and low rainfall. The Central Pacific coast shows a transition zone where the forests are better developed, with trees reaching 45 m in height as a result of the increase in precipitation and the reduction of the dry season in this zone. On the South Pacific coast, the mangroves present the most structurally developed mangroves, with trees reaching over 40 m in height, in response to the high precipitation of the zone and high levels of freshwater input throughout the year. The mangrove forest from the Caribbean coast is reduced to the south, with Rhizophora racemosa as a dominant species.
The mangroves, besides the ecological importance, represent a model for natural resource management. A socio-biological research of different mangroves in Costa Rica was the ground to setting initial goals and to identify the mangrove biological situation. The participation of the local organization was a key factor for developing the model. Constant monitoring and institutional networks were the other two factors that the model proposes to manage natural resources. The constant professional support was a tool to facilitate the accomplishment of goals and to establish an institutional network to hold up the local group initiatives for collaborative management.
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