Costa Rica- The Most Bio-diverse Place on Earth
Costa Rica, located between Nicaragua and Panama, is one of the seven Central American countries and covers an area of 51,100 km2. It is surrounded by the Pacific on the west and the Caribbean on the east, creating a coast line of 1103 km and 255 km respectively. Even though this small country covers only 0.03 percent of the earth’s surface, it contains almost 5% of the world’s biodiversity, including around 12,000 plant species, 1,600 butterfly species, 838 bird species, 440 reptile and amphibian species, and 232 mammal species. The high species richness has been attributed to two main factors: its geographical location and climatic conditions. Another factor that makes Costa Rica special is that it is situated between North and South America, meaning it can serve as a species corridor between these two continents, thus allowing for migration and exchange of genetic diversity.
But there are solutions: Land must be protected and restored instead of used for unsustainable activities that harm ecosystems and associated biodiversity. Local people must be provided with alternative, sustainable livelihoods and research is needed to determine how to best protect our wildlife. Additionally, we must educate and inspire local people and tourists to better protect the amazing diversity of life we have here. This is where the White Hawk Foundation comes in, protecting the wildlife in Costa Rica using a holistic approach.
Costa Rica lies halfway between the Tropic of Cancer and the equator, leading to an annual average temperature of 27 °C, with very little fluctuations throughout the year. Therefore, the seasons in this area are defined by precipitation, not temperature, resulting in a distinct dry and wet season. The dry season starts around November/December and continues through April/May, after which the rainy season begins. The southern Pacific lowlands, where the Osa Peninsula is located, receive a particularly high degree of average annual rainfall (about 7,300 mm).
Although more than one-fifth of Costa Rica is protected, these protected areas are becoming increasingly isolated, raising questions about the ecological functionality of the protected areas network on a regional and national level. In the absence of connectivity, the structure, dynamics and diversity of the forest flora changes and the ability for these fragmented areas to sustain both genetic and species diversity is reduced, especially in the face of extreme climatic events and disturbance. The world resource institute states that further action must be taken in order to raise, or at least sustain the current level of biodiversity (World Resources Institute, 2006). The main threat to the ecosystems in Costa Rica, and the reason for the reduction and fragmentation of forests, is land use and land cover change, which is driving biodiversity loss globally as the human population continues to expand.
In addition to land use and land cover change, the main threats to Costa Rica’s ecosystems include pollution of the land and waters, climate change, the introduction of invasive species and illegal hunting and logging.