Second phase of the Big Enchilada project shows how data processing with R can contribute to Systemic Conservation Planning in Costa Rica

Thursday, March 14 saw Part 2 of the three-part Big Enchilada virtual workshop: Mapping Nature for People and Planet. It was an opportunity for participants to receive training in data analysis using the Prioritizr package, in support of Systemic Conservation Planning in Costa Rica.

The session was led by Richard Schuster, a specialist from the Carleton University and part of the technical team working on the technology behind the Big Enchilada. A number of Costa Rican specialists in geographical information systems were in attendance, representing various public and academic institutions.

The software package Prioritizr can be used to solve problems relating to Systemic Conservation Planning, using the data processing platform R. Over the course of the session, participants had the chance to learn more about the science behind the Big Enchilada and to explore the code used to run the analysis.

Participants gained insight into the use of Prioritizr in mapping Costa Rica’s Essential Life Support Areas. In this part of the workshop, they studied the data sets required and learned how to configure the analysis and generate specific access applications for different user groups.

Representing the project coordination team, Cornelia Miller, director of the PRIAS Laboratory, delivered the opening and closing addresses. Miller, an expert in Geographical Information Systems, highlighted the importance of knowledge sharing, at national and international levels, among members of the scientific community with a common interest in developing environmental management tools and contributing to decision making with innovative data sources based on real-world observations.

“En sí mismo, este proyecto está integrado por un gran equipo de trabajo multidisciplinario y que representa una gran diversidad en cuanto a la naturaleza de las instituciones participantes; la Gran Enchilada es una receta dinámica capaz de perdurar a través de los tiempos y ser flexible para encontrar el mejor enfoque según las necesidades ambientales de Costa Rica” indicó Cornelia Miller.

“The project itself includes a wonderfully diverse, multidisciplinary team drawn from a spectrum of participating institutions; the Big Enchilada is a dynamic model that can be sustained over time and is flexible enough to allow us to adopt the optimal focus depending on Costa Rica’s environmental needs,” commented Cornelia Miller.

This technical training session served as an introduction to the third and final part of this workshop series, which is designed as a vehicle for co-creating and revising the maps of Costa Rica’s Essential Life Support Areas. This final session, to be held on May 18 and 19, will bring together a number of Costa Rican specialists in public policy issues and data management from participating institutions.

The project, entitled ‘The Big Enchilada: Mapping Nature for People and Planet’, aims to use spatial information to improve decision making in conservation and sustainable development and to identify Costa Rica’s Essential Life Support Areas. These zones are “hot spots” where protection, management, and/or restoration efforts have the potential not only to preserve biodiversity, but to make a significant difference to carbon storage, food security, water provision, and disaster prevention, 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 the 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). It is supported by global partners including National Geographic Society and the University of British Columbia, with funding from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

For more information, see the website for this event.

Translation from the Spanish courtesy of Ruth Grant.