Assessing climate change impacts on biodiversity to guide adaptation measures

Costa Rica is part of the narrow terrestrial land bridge connecting North and South America. Due to its unique climatic and geomorphologic setting a great natural wealth is found here. Recently declared a climate change hotspot, Costa Rica’s biodiversity is vulnerable to environmental change, thus “climate sensitive areas” must be identified to ensure valuable resources are properly managed.


Issue to be addressed

Costa Rica’s development goals are strongly linked to biodiversity, alternative energy and water. As consistent, nationwide, quality-checked climate data is relatively scarce, well-supported climate change adaptation and policy making remains a challenge. We aim to providing baseline- downscaled and calibrated climate data, as well as basic biodiversity indicators that can be projected into the future to facilitate decision-making to sustainably manage and protect biodiversity in Costa Rica.

Decision support to client

The ecosystem vulnerability was recognized by the Costa Rican government, who encourage research and adaptation efforts. The final results could support national park authorities to better manage protected areas and establish biological corridors according to specific ”climate sensitive areas”, useful for channelling adaptation. All the information produced within this project will be made publicly available, which could also serve as a quality checked information source open to others to raise climate change awareness. 

Temporal and spatial scale

The unique setting of the Central American landbridge dictates the need to work at the most detailed spatial resolution possible, preferrably smaller than 5km2. Data at such detailed spatial resolution is scarce, but is the most useful for work at local scales. Adaption measures are to be implemented on short to mid-term time scales (5 to 10 years) at a national-wide level.    

Knowledge brokering

Meetings with the clients (GIZ and SINAC) are set up to discuss the data to be produced and the form and shape of the interactive climate atlases. A Mutual Agreement of Understanding (MAU) has been drafted to support the collaboration between the knowledge purveyor and the clients. It was opted for a bottom-up approach where indicators are chosen by the clients needs, and starting with the production of land use-based biodiversity indicators on a national scale.

The client’s (GIZ) advanced climate change background knowledge facilitates communication. Their close relation and partnership with SINAC, the national park authority of Costa Rica, ensures an efficient flow of information. The results could create a powerful incentive towards policy makers.


Universidad de Costa Rica

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion Costa Rica

Poster displayed at the Kick–Off meeting, 7/8 September 2017, Norrköping, Sweden