COVIRENAS – Protecting Biodiversity

COVIRENAS – Protecting Biodiversity

Author: Rebeca Quirós – COVIRENAS

Osa is home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity. Unfortunately, it has one of the lowest human development indices in the country.

The Osa Peninsula has historically had socioeconomic conflicts that inevitably trigger environmental crimes.

The biodiversity in the area has made it possible to develop ecotourism, a large part of its inhabitants depends on tourist activity.

For decades ACOSA (Osa Conservation Area) has had a lack of resources that allows it to stop the many environmental crimes in such a large area. The new budget cuts are making the situation worse.

With restrictions and the decline in tourism, environmental crime has increased. Most ministries have suffered budget cuts and MINAE is no exception.

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The lack of employment has brought greater availability of time and has led the communities of Osa to organize themselves into groups of COVIRENAS (Natural Resources Surveillance Committees) that are basically volunteer park guards. 

There are already 5 formally constituted groups: Rancho Quemado, Alto Laguna, Drake Bay, Carate and Puerto Jiménez with almost 60 participants with the SINAC card. Likewise, new groups are being formed in La Gamba, Palmar Norte, Piedras Blancas, among others.

Now more than ever it is essential that local communities empower themselves as protectors of their own biodiversity, which is essential to resume tourism activity.

The Rancho Quemado Biological Monitoring group, also COVIRENAS, is an example worth mentioning. For more than a year they began to take care of the herds of wild pigs that were being slaughtered by local hunters. As of today, hunting has practically been eliminated in this community. In addition, they carry out biological monitoring and environmental education work.

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Patrols began in Drake Bay a few months ago and in such a short time a network of anonymous informants has been established, which is allowing to create a demotivation in local hunters, and therefore, reducing hunting.

The COVIRENAS of Puerto Jiménez are cleaning beaches and areas of the community, those of Carate have managed to thwart the theft of sea turtle eggs thanks to the rapid complaint to MINAE.

Likewise, the COVIRENAS provide support in the Corcovado National Park stations when there are few personnel, they have actively collaborated in work on trails and improvements to open them to tourism.

All the work and time is on a voluntary basis and financial support is being sought to continue working, since logistics requires buying equipment for the mountain, payment of per diem, among others.

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