Costa Rica looks to boost its capacity in Systemic Conservation Planning

Costa Rica’s ‘Big Enchilada’ project is still going strong and now into its second phase, which kicked off on 11 and 12 May with a virtual workshop. Its mission? To enhance attendees’ technical knowledge in the area of Systemic Conservation Planning (SCP). This was the first of three online sessions scheduled for this phase of the project.

Attendees were introduced to key concepts in SCP, the methodology adopted by the Big Enchilada project to map Costa Rica’s ‘Essential Life Support Areas’ (ELSAs)

Day 1 provided an overview of SCP and various tools that can aid decision making depending on the specific needs of each country. On Day 2, attendees learned about using land use zoning to support multiple objectives, evidence-based decision making, and approaches for communicating the value of these tools, putting them into practice, and evaluating outcomes.

The International NGO PacMARA (Pacific Marine Analysis and Research Association), provided all technical content used in this workshop.

Despite the online format, there was plenty of scope for participation, thanks to various interactive exercises that gave all attendees the chance to contribute.

The second half of the workshop took place on Thursday, 14 May. This session focused on how the Prioritizr analysis tool can be used to further Systemic Conservation Planning in Costa Rica.

More information about this workshop (in Spanish) can be found on the SIMOCUTE website:

The Big Enchilada: Mapping Nature for People and Planet in Costa Rica

The purpose of the project is to use spatial information to improve decision making in conservation and sustainable development and to identify Costa Rica’s ELSAs. These zones are ‘hot spots’ where conservation and/or restoration efforts have the potential not only to protect biodiversity, but also to ensure the delivery of ecosystem services such as carbon storage, food security, water provision, and disaster risk reduction, among other benefits.

The project is led by the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with technical support from the National Center for Geoenvironmental Information (CENIGA), the Executive Secretariat for Environmental Planning (SEPLASA), and PRIAS Laboratory at the National Center of High Technology (CeNAT) as part of the work surrounding the National Land Use, Land Cover, and Ecosystems Monitoring System (SIMOCUTE). The project is support by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), National Geographic Society, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

In this second phase of workshops, the project aims is to help participants gain a deeper knowledge of SCP, build technical skills using Prioritizr software, and co-create ELSA maps for Costa Rica, building on the first Big Enchilada workshop that took place in October 2019 (see workshop report English/Spanish).

Translation from the Spanish courtesy of Ruth Grant.