Costa Rica’s plan to save its biodiversity

Dan Janzen

Morning program 10:00 – 10:45

Costa Rica’s plan to save its biodiversity

Costa Rica is ideally positioned to become a global pilot itself for the Grand Challenge of confronting tropical biodiversity loss. A bioliterate society will understand and sustain wild biodiversity as integral parts of the national social, economic, and biopolitical fabric. Costa Rica still has more than a million multicellular wild terrestrial species living in 25% of the country as protected ecosystems, patchworked among five million people. Some small and fragmented things are known about these species and their ecosystems, but there is no society-wide effort to create a bioliterate society that will be their host and recipient of what they are, what they offer, and how they are changing.

Today’s technology of the internet, combined with DNA-based identification of any living thing by anyone, now allows a society to slow its trashing of its wild world and integrate it with human desires and realities.  Such a pilot country intends to be a stimulus example for other tropical countries.  As such, it will contribute to perpetual survival of global tropical biodiversity. National bioliteracy can only be achieved by massive and society-wide combination of in-country human and biodiversity resources, with serious external financial support that shares Costa Rica’s interest in tackling the dual emergencies of tropical biodiversity loss and of climate change. This cross-cultural and cross-wild example integrates and requires all three primary themes – biopolitics, technology, and sustainable solutions.

Planting the seeds for a bioliterate tropical country

Dan Janzen
Professor of Conservation Biology
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