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Evaluacin de los efectos de las polticas nuevas y viejas de la conservacin en Costa Rica
Assessing the effects of new and old conservation policies in Costa Rica
Cost[a] Ricas national conservation policy was recast into SINAC (National System of Conservation Areas) about a decade ago (World Bank 2000). Major changes in the new policies include pairing the management of biodiversity and the management of sustainable development and resource use (SINAC website, 2007). This change sparked
criticism and many worried that the shift might leave policy in favor of development instead of sheer protection for biodiversity. SINAC also changed the administrative structure of conservation management and condensed seventy-
eight different territories into eleven conservation areas spanning all of Costa Ricas territory (Evans 1999). Recent
studies show that the state of conservation policy and its effectiveness in the country is less an effect of new policies than it is the way funding travels between the central government and Conservation Areas. These areas generate enough money to sustain the countrys conservation goals but the central government does not return enough of the
generated revenue for these goals to be realized.
La poltica nacional de la conservacin en Costa Rica fue modificada en SINAC (Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacin) hace aproximadamente una dcada (Banco Mundial 2000). Cambios importantes en las nuevas polticas incluyen el emparejamiento del manejo de la biodiversidad, el manejo del desarrollo sostenible y el uso del recurso (sitio en la web del SINAC, 2007). Este cambio desato crticas y muchos se preocuparon que el cambio pudiera dejar la poltica a favor del desarrollo en vez de la proteccin de la biodiversidad. El SINAC tambin cambio la estructura administrativa del manejo de la conservacin y condens setenta y ocho diversos territorios en once reas de conservacin que atravesaban todo el territorio de Costa Rica (Evans 1999).
Text in English.
Natural resource management and policy--Costa Rica
Manejo de recursos naturales y poltica--Costa Rica
Tropical Ecology 2007
Ecologa Tropical 2007
Polticas de conservacin
t Monteverde Institute : Tropical Ecology
1 Assessing the Effects of New and Old Conservation Policies in Costa Rica Danielle Knight Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pennsylvania ABSTRACT Cost RicaÂ€s national conservation policy was recast into SINAC National S ystem of Conservation Areas about a decade ago World Bank 2000. Major changes in the new policies include pairing the management of biodiversity and the management of sustainable development and resource use SINAC website, 2007. This change sparked criticism and many worried that the shift might leave policy in favor of development instead of sheer protection for biodiversity. SINAC also changed the administrative structure of conservation management and condensed seventy eight different territories into eleven conservation areas spanning all of Costa RicaÂ€s territory Evans 1999. Recent studies show that the state of conservation policy and its effectiveness in the country is less an effect of new policies than it is the way funding travels betwee n the central government and Conservation Areas. These areas generate enough money to sustain the countryÂ€s conservation goals but the central government does not return enough of the generated revenue for these goals to be realized. RESUMEN La polÃtic a nacional de la conservaciÃ³n en Costa Rica fue modificada en SINAC Sistema Nacional de Ãreas de Con servaciÃ³n hace alrededor de un a dÃ©cada World Bank 2000. Los cambios principales en las nuevas polÃticas incluyen la conjunciÃ³n de la gerencia de la bi odiversidad y de la gerencia del desarrollo y del uso sostenibles del recurso SINAC website, 2007. Este cambio desatÃ³ crÃticas y muchos se preocuparon que el cambio pudiera dejar la polÃtica en favor del desarrollo en vez de la protecciÃ³n de la biodiversid ad. SINAC tambiÃ©n cambiÃ³ la estructura administrativa de la gerencia de la conservaciÃ³n y condensÃ³ setenta y ocho diversos territorios en once Ã¡reas de conservaciÃ³n que atravesaban todo el territorio de Costa Rica Meffe and Carroll 1997. Las entrevista s conducidas aquÃ y otras investigaciones sugieren que el estado de la polÃtica de la conservaciÃ³n y de su eficacia en el paÃs es un efecto menor de las nuevas polÃticas que de la manera que fluye el financiamiento entre el gobierno central y las Ã¡reas de la conservaciÃ³n. Estas Ã¡reas generan bastante dinero para sostener las metas de la conservaciÃ³n del paÃs pero el gobierno central no vuelve bastante del dinero generado para que estas metas sean observadas HernÃ¡ndez , comunicaciÃ³n personal. INTRODUC TION In recent years, many have begun to abandon conservation policies that approach biodiversity protection without considering a human presence. These traditional conservation tactics assign protected areas as reserves that no one should trespass onto. Countries whose population growth rates indicate a need for more development adopt more Âcounter narrativeÂ‚ conservation planning, however. This model incorporates both the need for conservation but does not ignore the effects of human activity on the e nvironment. Human needs are and will continue to increase with more population; thus, countries will have to develop ways of utilizing their natural resources without having exhaustive effects on them Campbell 2002. Initiatives for sustainable developme nt have already begun among global organizations like the World Conservation
2 Strategy and Caring for the Earth Campbell 2002. Costa Rica has been a forerunner in sustainable conservation policy in Latin America, though the extent to which policies are o bserved is questionable. Recent changes under the countryÂ€s national conservation policy also juxtapose conservation and development. The new conservation system, the National System of Conservation Areas SINAC, intends to conserve and protect biodiver sity as well as promote sustainable development and sustainable use of Costa RicaÂ€s natural resources Meffe and Carroll 1997. Over twenty years ago, Costa Rica lacked the scale of eco tourism and conservation practice it observes today. The country f aced enormous international debt, one of the worldÂ€s largest growing population rates and a legal system that largely promoted deforestation Meffe and Carroll 1997. The heaviest deforestation occurred in the 70Â€s and early 80Â€s, when the country had on e of the worldÂ€s highest deforestation rates. At this time there was also heavy governmental pressure to deforest so that the country could gain profits in wood exports. There were also many governmental incentives for agriculture and pasture production Kishor and Constantino 1993. Then in 1986 the President Arias Sanchez administration created MIRENEM Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mines. Under MIRENEM, seventy eight different territories were controlled by the National Parks Service, the General Forestry Directorate, the Wildlife Service and the National Indian Affairs Commission. The Organization for Tropical Ecosystem OTS Studies and the Tropical Science Center CCT also helped to manage and financially support the different regions Meffe and Carroll 1997. Before the establishment of SINAC, different government agencies controlled the seventy eight protected territories. Management by these different governing bodies made effective communication difficult and many judged the per sonnel managing these areas as unskilled and lacking enough resources to carry out conservation on a large scale. Those working in the field also were and are still likely to be poorly experienced Brockett and Gottfried 2002. The conservation systemÂ€s past had also been plagued by insufficient funding and helpful management for a long time. The World Bank found that attitudes of employees mirrored this dysfunction: Â[T]he DGF admits to low morale and an inability to control wasteful deforestation or to implement incentive programs due to insufficient funding and staffingÂ‚ Evans 1999. In 1993 the World Bank published a review analyzing conservation and forestry in Costa Rica. The review concluded that Costa Rica needed to improve the financial manag ement of its national parks, which they suggested might be achieved through higher entrance fees. The World Bank also urged the country to gear their conservation efforts more on forest protection independent of sustainable development. The review also r eported that 66% of the forest services in Costa Rica are enjoyed globally and that these add up to between US$119 and 286 million annually. They reason that the rest of the world needs to compensate Costa Rica for their efforts and success in managing an d protecting their natural environment De Camino et al. 2002. Two years later, the government reorganized its conservation system. Under the former conservation setup, many duties and responsibilities overlapped among the different agencies. The sy stem was overly bureaucratic and inefficient, making the different areas disjointed from one another. Implementing SINAC was supposed to remedy these conditions. The new system was supposed to make management more consolidated and efficient, allow a unifie d biological basis in protection and also invoke more participation by the local community. The change also
3 included sustainable development and sustainable resources use into conservation policy. Thus, SINAC was left to manage both biodiversity protecti on and sustainable development, an addition which earned ample political support Meffe and Carroll 1997. This change came in 1995 when MIRENEM and MAE Ministry of the Environment were consolidated into MINAE Ministry of the Environment and Energy. The seventy eight parks and reserves were then consolidated into eleven conservation areas, covering all Costa Rican territory. MINAE assigned control of these areas to SINAC National Systems of Conservation Areas, whose existence was officially legal ized with Biodiversity Law 7788 in 1998 World Bank 2000. The SINAC administration includes the National Council of Conservation Areas, an Executive Department, the Conservation Areas, Regional Councils, and Local Councils World Bank 2000. The main reforms included in SINACÂ€s structure include decentralizing control away from a main San Jose location and giving more power to local regional offices. Regional management could make more decisions, handle staffing and include opinions from local communi ties in their planning. Ideally, SINAC wants to make each region self sufficient so that civil society can one day independently manage their own region, requiring less support from the central government. Under SINAC, the government also wanted to make each AC Conservation Area more financially independent. SINAC policy states that each region should reach towards generating 50% of its income independently, 15% from international support, 15% from endowments, trust funds and debt swaps and 20% from t he Costa RicanÂ€s governmentÂ€s general budget Meffe and Carroll 1997. Some groups and individuals criticized the reorganization under MINAE and SINAC, especially the fact that these agencies would be handling biodiversity protection and sustainable dev el opment simultaneously. The Jos Ã© Maria Figueres Administration 1994 98 has been described as wanting to turn Costa Rica into a grand project for sustainable development, Âoffering itself to the world as a ÂƒlaboratoryÂ€ for this new development paradigmÂ‚ Brockett and Gottfried 2002. Costa RicaÂ€s Âsustainable driveÂ‚ worries some conservationists, especially now that it is included in the countryÂ€s conservation strategies. Many think the combined management of biodiversity protection and sustainable us e can be a dangerous change. If development usually yields more economic profit than biodiversity protection and they fall under the same governing agency, there is the likelihood that development would receive more funding and attention, leaving biodiver sity at risk. The director of AECO, an independent Costa Rican conservation group, claimed that SINAC would bring more harmful resource exploitation and could build more construction in environmentally fragile areas Evans 1999. Decentralizing the conse rvation duties is a key feature of SINAC, a large worry to many conservationists also. Local management might receive heavy local pressures that would compromise original goals for biodiversity protection. Many rural communities are also considered to be less preservationist, making localized conservation management in these communities less trustworthy Brockett and Gottfried 2002. Here I try to assess the effectiveness of the new SINAC system. I will evaluate how effective the administrative change s has improved management in the Conservation Areas and whether decentralization has hindered biodiversity protection. If decision making is left up to regions and local communities, this might leave opportunity for local interests to influence conservati on agendas. To do this, I will look for differences in money allocated to biodiversity protection and related projects and assess whether or not there has been a negative change in the amount of attention and concern for biodiversity in Conservation Areas.
4 METHODS I conducted interviews with Walter Bonilla, the Monteverde Conservation Leag ueÂ€s accountant and Carlos Hern Ã¡ ndez, the Director of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. My questions for them related to their opinions about the efficiency of S INAC, the state of finances with the system, their perceived level of local community participation and suggestions for future changes in conservation policy Appendix 1. I also created and sent questionnaires for the directors of each AC in Costa Rica. These questions asked the director in most cases to compare conditions in their conservation area to before and after the creation of SINAC Appendix 2. Ten questionnaires were submitted to directors of each Conservation Area except for La Amistad Cari be because the regional office did not answer their phones and I was unable to get contact information for the areaÂ€s director. Of the ten submitted, only one answered questionnaire returned from Fernando Quiros, the director of the Coco Island AC. I g athered additional information through outside research, using previous studies examining Costa RicaÂ€s conservation policies. I also obtained SINAC budge tary information from Jorge Gam boa, an employee in San JoseÂ€s MINAE location and specific budgetary i nformation about Poas National Park from Adriana Murrillo, the parkÂ€s accountant. All research collection and interviews were performed in person and by phone in Monteverde, Costa Rica. RESULTS The changes established under SINAC have changed t he way conservation is handled mostly on an administrative basis. Whether or not the change has caused a discrepancy in the amount of attention and money given to biodiversity protection and sustainable activities is less evident. This is because many of the new SINAC decrees have not actually been developed due to lack of funds. The areas are not as self sufficient as the SINAC goals proposed because the central government prevents them from financially supporting themselves independently. Thus, this s tudy does not show that SINACÂ€s dual control of sustainable development and sustainable resource use has affected the amount biodiversity protection significantly. There are, however, still successes and problems that persist in SINAC and its governing ag encies, MINAE and the central government. While some of these observations are directly associated with SINAC changes, most are associated with several contributing factors. The following table note these conservation successes and problems.
5 CUR RENT STATE OF CONSERVATION UNDER SINAC Ideological Conservational Financial Administrative/Ope rative Pros Â· Costa Rica adopts sustainability as a national objective Â· SINAC allows many to contribute to conservation practices Â· local communities are able to visualize the economic necessity and value of biodiversity Â· plans are in progress to monitor management and tourism Â· have established environmental education programs for AC personnel Â· SINAC creates Biodiversity Law No. 7788 Â· Â· people can mana ge and utilize their local resources efficiently Â· ACs receive outside funds from donors ex. FUNDECOR and Tropical Science Center Â· conservation budget project in progress to better fund ACs Â· more personnel working than now before SINAC Â· local regional com missions are active and participative in their ACs Â· local management allows people to obtain permits easier Â· SINAC system has become more stable in the past years Â· richer ACs able to support the poorer ones Â· local managers will be more familiar with the ir field Cons Â· biodiversity always approached as a resource Â· influence of local rural communities may counter conservation interests Â· outside pressures still threaten Â· monitoring in protected areas is not continuous Â· may lead to overexploitation of n atural resources Â· laws against deforestation and other malpractice not heavily enforced Â· reforestation policy is fairly new Â· central government returns small percentage of funds back to Acs Â· these returned percentages vary from year to year Â· central gove rnment decides how to divvy funds across ACs Â· central government controls how each AC uses their funds Â· tourism industry does not support ACs Â· basic operative costs often not covered by government Â· reduction in international aid to ACs Â· lack sufficient a mount of personnel to handle all responsibility Â· ACs overly dependent on central government for funding Â· overdependence on the government prevents them from operating efficiently and self sufficiently Â· facilities in poor condition
6 DISCUSSION Ideologi cal Issues. CON. At one point, Costa RicaÂ€s sustainable activity may evolve into utilizing environmental and biological resources at such a high capacity that it will be become harmful to the environment. Many communities often place more economic val ue than aesthetic value on biodiversity. In Monteverde for example, the local population draws large economic benefit from the large scale eco tourism that floods the region yearly. Monteverde Cloud Fores t Preserve Director Carlos Hern Ã¡ ndez supports this trend and claims that in order for the surrounding community to appreciate and want to conserve an areaÂ€s biodiversity and forested area, they have to see its economic benefits Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communication. Many, conservationists especially, ado pt a more minimalist approach to further development which would interfere with intact forest coverage and biodiversity. These individuals would rather see more wildlife and forest reserves with surrounding communities prohibited from entering and using t he environmental resources to support their own livelihood. It is questionable whether or not SINACÂ€s sustainable development objective will compromise biodiversity protection in the future. As of now, however, patterns of development have not changed af ter SINAC enough to declare them a definite threat to curren t biodiversity protection Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communication. PRO. Costa Rica is still ahead of the game because it makes sustainability a concern for development and land use more than mos t other Latin American countries. In 1994 the country even declared Âsustainable development to be a national objectiveÂ‚ World Bank 2000. Earlier policies have not been very conscious of sustainable needs, but the fact that the country has discussed it s importance puts it further ahead than neighboring countries still developing their own. Promoting sustainable usage of environmental services might lead to overexploitation of biological resources, but there is another possible outcome for the envir onmental benefits felt by the surrounding population. When individuals, employees especially, can visualize how much environmental benefits can provide large economic returns and support themselves, their communities, like Monteverde, may become more envi ronmentally conscious Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communication. Gaining its economic benefits might urge them to use the environment in a sustainable fashion so that it can continue to yield economic profit. A key feature of the SINAC change included drawing more participation from local communities. Conceptually, this change might further conservation positively for a number of reasons. Local people may be more likely to care for their immediate surroundings than an executive in San Jose. Regional projects would more directly affect them so their active participation might be considered more legitimate in decision making and planning. Conservation Issues. CON. Because SINAC is responsible for usage of natural resources, its management could have a larg e effect on whether or not these resources are overexploited. This was not an
7 observed result but the possibility is anticipated by many who lack faith in SINACÂ€s ability to manage biodiversity and natural resources with equitable attention. Others have claimed that after the implementation of SINAC, they noticed less personnel coming out into the field to monitor the conservation areas. Anselmo Flores Reyes, leader of the Terraba Indigenous Reserve, claimed that personnel from the General Forestry Dire ctorate, the former forestry agency in Costa Rica, used to visit his region often to monitor and inspect the wood cutting occurring often. He noted that personnel from SINAC Conservation Areas visit less often and accomplish little when they do visit Eva ns 1999. Local biodiversity and habitat still suffer threats in some areas. The director of the Coco Island Conservation Area noted current threats to biodiversity and resource use in his area, including illegal fishing, introduced exotic species and inefficient management, tourism regulation and financial practices Quiros, personal communication. Reyes also complained that SINAC officials do not enforce regulations in his Conservation Area because they have done little to battle issues like heavy deforestation and endangered watersheds still threatening his region. Regulations regarding wood cutting have been implemented, yet he reports that neither the police nor anyone else does much to enforce them Evans 1999. PRO. The director from the Coco Is land Conservation Area ACMIC claimed that there are projects in progress to monitor the area more effectively and for tourism Quiros, personal communication. He stated in his questionnaire that his AC did monitor their Protected Wildlife Areas from 20 00 2004 but stopped after this time. The Biodiversity Law No. 7788 legalized SINAC in 1998. This law necessitated that efforts regarding biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources should be distributed justly according to the ir benefits and costs SINAC website, 2007. This is a key law because it states that each Conservation Area should be returned 100% of the profit they produce. 100% return of money generated would help the ACs substantially, but this part of the law has yet to be realized Gamboa, personal communication. SINAC has also required many of its regional employees to take environmental education courses. This can help the quality of conservation planning and decision making in the ACs because people will be better informed about conservation in their respective areas. It will also be more practical for locals to make decisions about how the surrounding natural resources are utilized Bonilla, personal communication. Financial Issues CON. Inefficien t funding practices are the largest problem threatening conservation success in Costa Rica. With the changes under SINAC, it is only the National Parks System that funds all other activities in all of Costa RicaÂ€s conservation areas Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal c ommunication. Wildlife reserves do not generate money because they are not open to the public and do not generate revenue from entrance fees. There is also a law stating that money produced in the forestry department is utilized outside of SINACÂ€s juris diction. Of Costa RicaÂ€s national parks, it is generally PoÃ¡s, IrazÃº, Tortuguero, Carara, Manuel Antonio and Arenal that cover activities and operative costs of other regions Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communication. Jorge Gamboa claimed that there is enoug h money returned to the central government to allow SINAC to run successfully in each AC. The problem is, however, that when the
8 conservation regions receive money back from the central government, they receive a very small percentage and sometimes nothin g at all. Poas National Park, for example, generates approximately eight hundred thousand US dollars annually and the park has not received any money back from the central government in the last three years Murrillo, personal communication. In 2006, on ly 27% of the total money generated this year by the national parks returned to the countryÂ€s conservation areas Gamboa, personal communication. Because the money generated by conservation areas has a public stamp on it, the money is returned to the M inisterio de Hacienda and the Controloria in the central government . These two governing bodies choose how to divvy up these funds and where to allocate them. Because they are public funds, these agencies can use them for any administrative costs they choose to or in other ministries, which is often the case Gamboa, personal communication. These funds travel straight from the national parks into the central governments pot of public revenue and SINAC and MINAE do not touch these funds in the interim. There is also no fixed percentage of annual return by the central government. Thus, conservation areas cannot anticipate how much of their revenues the government will return because these figures can change yearly. Private reserves and organizations l ike the MCL Monteverde Conservation League and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve are better able to manage their money because they are private funds. At the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, for example, all of their revenue goes to the Tropical Scienc e Center. Of that money, 70% is returned directly to the reserve for their own use and management. 15% of the remaining 30% goes to the bank to generate interests as a safety fund and the other 15% goes to th e Tropi cal Science Center Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communication. Their money travels more efficiently than does the national system and this reserve operates on a very small scale. Their success might be evidence of the potential success of decentralized conservation areas who mainly suffer from lack of funding. Once the small percentages are returned to conservation areas, MINAE does not participate in deciding how much money each conservation area receives. The central government assigns these values and they also dictate how these funds should b e utilized in each area. When the central government advises areas on how to use their money, they often require regions to act most frugally and purchase at the cheapest rates. These restrictions can often leave parks, reserves and other areas with low quality operations Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communication. Several regions often do not even have enough money from the central government to cover their basic operative costs. On the Coco Island Conservation Area, for instance, the director reported that for 2007 they anticipate operative costs of about 1,600 US dollars. He said that these estimations often surpass what the central government will give for operative costs Quiros, personal communication. There has been a decrease in international fundin g provided to Costa Rica in recent years but this trend is attributed to different reasons. Walter Bonilla and Carlos Hern Ã¡ ndez claim that Costa Rica received more funding from 1986 1996 because it stood out among all the less developed countries because it had a democracy, lacked an army and invested heavily in healt h and education Bonilla & Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communication. Now that other neighboring countries are beginning to develop themselves and raise awareness for protecting their environments, international aid has shifted its attent ion across more countries Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communication. Others believe, however, that Costa Rica has become a less popular target for international aid because of the birth of SINAC. These sources claim that recently that
9 the Canadian government diverted funding from Costa Rica to Nicaragua because of the SINAC change Evans 1999 PRO. Some conservation areas are able to depend on outside sources of funding. In Poas National Park, for example, they annual ly receive 3 5% of their money from NGOÂ€s. FUNDECOR also manages the parking lot at Poas and because it does not have to submit the money generated by parking fees to the central government, it can return everything to the park for its own usage. Costa R icaÂ€s Tropical Science Center runs the same operation in the parkÂ€s cafeteria. Here, 100% of profits in the cafeteria the Center return to the park. FUNDECOR and the Tropical Science Center manage parking lots and cafeterias in IrazÃº National Park also. The Coco Island Conservation Area will receive international aid from FAICO this year to cover operative costs but they will receive about 60 US dollars, which is about 20% of costs received by the AC to this point this year Quiros, personal communic ation. The financial issues facing conservation plans in Costa Rica might be resolved in the near future, however. Biodiversity law No.7 788 states that 100% of the mon e y generated by national parks has to return to the conservation areas and that the government has to set aside a special budget for managing conservation areas. The beginnings of such a budget, the conservation budget project, are now in parliament and should soon become a legalized reserve of money just for conservation areas. One ban k will receive and manage all the generated funds and return the money back to the conservation areas Gamboa, personal communication. Administrative/Operative Issues. CON. SINAC still lacks enough personnel to handle all the responsibilities in all the conservation areas adequately. On the OSA peninsula, for instance, there were only 3 staff members monitoring the area as late as 1998 Brockett and Gottfried 2002. Because money is usually located away from conservation interests, there are not eno ugh funds to hire more personnel. Poas National Park has about ten people working to cover an area of 6,000 hectares and in Palo Verde National Park there are about twenty people working to cover a range of 20,000 hectares Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communicati on. Conservationists like Walter Bonilla and Carlos Hern Ã¡ ndez support the SINAC philosophy and the efforts to decentralize efforts away from one central location. They also believe the areas cannot perform ideally at this point because they are depriv e d the resources they need Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communication. For them, inefficiency in the handling of conservation is likely more a result of limited funding than it is SINACÂ€s organization. There is also lots of bureaucracy in areas and this can d ecrease management efficiency. Walter Bonilla was a former accountant and he noted problems between transferring financial figures to the central government and back to the park. If there were problems with documents or figures, he would have to redo his work, resubmit it to the government and the process took a long time. The central government and its ministries have also often been accused of corruption and bureaucracy Bonilla, personal communication. Many believe that the SINAC is a good model fo r administration, but that it does not receive enough support from the government. Instead, the government is more dedicated to interests of transnational companies whose motives might counter conservation regulations under SINAC Mora 1999. Thus, some are concerned that if the central government does not strongly
10 support SINAC, others will not support it. Others have also claimed that MINAE is not always a supportive ministry, either Mora 1999. Conservation Areas also often have very poor conditio ns in their facilities. In Poas National Park, for example, there is one womenÂ€s bathroom with five stalls and one menÂ€s bathroom with four stalls. These restroom facilities are what the park has to accommodate their 250,000 annual visitors. Parks can o ften even lack money to pur chase enough toilet pa per Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communication. PRO. While there are still not enough employees to manage all the conservation areas efficiently, there have been some gains since the birth of SINAC. In ACMIC, the Coco Island Conservation Area, they employed seven guards before the SINAC changes and now employ eighteen guards Quiros, personal communication. This AC also only employed eight administrative workers before SINAC but they now have twenty eight people working Quiros, personal communication. Walter Bonilla, a former employee of SINAC, also noticed that SINAC has increased the amount of environmental education required by SINAC employees and most of them are better prepared to deal with administrative duties in their area Bonilla, personal communication. With SINAC and the biodiversity law also came an increase in regional councils and bodies that meet together to discuss conservation agendas in the ACs. These can be forums where regional emplo yees and local community members discuss opinions and brainstorm projects for improved management in the areas Quiros, personal communication. One improvement from the decentralization of management is that if a party in a conservation area wants to i mplement a project, they had to travel to San Jose in the past to get permission from the central office. Now that power is decentralized, they only have to go to their local office to get permission at a lesser inconvenience Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communic ation. Another benefit of SINAC is that it allows to richer areas of Costa Rica to fund those areas that do not generate enough revenue to support themselves on their own. Before SINAC, there were separate territories controlled by different ministrie s. Now that all areas fall under the same ministry, wealthier places like the popular national parks can help support the entire system. This kind of group cooperation is necessary especially for regions like AC Amistad Caribe whose area only receives ab out 1,000 paying visitors per year Hern Ã¡ ndez, personal communication. Suggestions The scope of Conservation in Costa Rica is threatened by more than just a shift in administration. SINAC established a philosophy that is very different from the pre vious organization of conservation agencies, yet whether or not these differences will be for the greater improvement of conservation in Costa Rica is not yet evident. Most critics disagreed with the SINAC philosophy because it would transfer power to loc al regions and because it included the management of sustainable resources. These are valid worries but they are not problems with SINAC that are obvious at the present time. What is most obvious is that the conservation structure is most threatened by t he way money is handled.
11 Th e areas would benefit however, from a policy requiring the Ministry of Tourism to support conservation areas since so much of their profits derive from the wildlife that conservation areas work to preserve. In the future, areas need 100% of revenues from national parks to be returned to the system so that personnel, facilities, sustainable development and biodiversity protection can all receive more funding than they do now. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank Carlo s Hern Ã¡ ndez of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Walter Bonilla of the Monteverde Conservation League for allowing me to interview them and providing me helpful information about Costa RicaÂ€s current conservation situation and the problems associated with it. I would also like to thank Fernando Quiros, director of the Coco Island Conservation Area, for providing information pertaining to his area. I would also like to thank Jorge Gamboa of MINAEÂ€s location in San Jose for financial information regar ding Conservation Areas and Adriana Murrillo for providing financial examples about Poas National Park. A special thanks to Alan Masters for steering me towards an analysis of the SINAC system and to Tania for her advising and for translating interviews f or me. LITERATURE CITED Brockett, C.D. and R. Gottfried. 2002. State Policies and the Preservation of Forest Cover: Lessons from Contrasting Public Policy Regimes in Costa Rica. Latin America Research Review. 37:1. 7 40. Campbell, L. 2002. Conservati on Narratives in Costa Rica: Conflict and Co existence. Development and Change . 33 :29 56. De Camino, R.V., Segura, O.B., and L.A. Kelly. 2002. Costa Rica: At the Cutting Edge. In Chapter 2, Lele U. Editor. 2002. Managing a Global Resource. Challenges of F orest Conservation and Development. World Bank Series on Evaluation and Development, Volume 5. Transaction Puclishers, New Brunswick and London. Evans, S. 1999. The Green Republic: A Conservation History of Costa Rica. Austin: University of Texas Press. Kishor, N. and L. Constantino. 1993. Forest Management and Competing Land Uses: An Economic Analysis for Costa Rica. World Bank. Meffe, G.K. and Carroll, C.R., eds. 1997. Principles of Conservation Biology. Sinauer Associates, Massachusetts. MINAE. Sist ema Nacional de Areas de ConservaciÃ³n SINAC. 8 Abril 2007. Mora, Eduardo. 1999. Rehuimos el conservacionismo fundamentalista. AmbientÃco. 74. SINAC: National System of Conservation Areas Official Website. Wo rld Bank. 2000. Costa Rica: Forest Strategy and the Evolution of Land Use. Operations Evaluation Department OED. Washington, D.C. Hernandez, Carlos. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Personal communication. 5/2/07. Bonilla, Walter. Monteverde Conservatio n League. Personal communication. 5/1/07. Gamboa, Jorge. MINAE. Personal communication. 5/8/07.
12 Murillo, Adriana. Poas National Park. Personal communication. 5/3/07. Quiros, Fernando. Coco Island Conservation Area. Personal communication. 5/4/07. APPEN DIX 1 INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR CARLOS HERNANDEZ AND WALTER BONILLA 1. For how long were you employed by SINAC or MINAE and what kind of occupation did you fill? 2. Do you think that the de concentration changes under SINAC are have established or are going to es tablish a conservation system more efficient than before than SINAC? 3. Do you think Conservation Areas will implement more economic and sustainable projects than those for biodiversity protection? 4. Has your private reserve or organization worked with SINAC on any projects? Have you collaborated with SINAC on conservation projects or related projects in the past? If so, what do you think was their general attitude towards biodiversity protection? 5. Do you think the changes in conservation policy that came along with SINAC are going to jeopardize or reduce the conservation successes Costa Rica has had in the past? 6. Do you think these changes have reduce or will reduce international aid for Costa Rica? 7. Do you think that each Conservation Area receives the same amoun t of funding from the government and other outside resources? Or do you think there is a discrepancy in the amount of money that different areas receive? 8. Do you notice a change in the Monteverde area that reflects the changes under SINAC? Do you think dev elopment receives more attention that biodiversity protection from the local MINAE location? 9. Do you think there is anything SINAC can do to improve its management of conservation, biodiversity, sustainable development and resource use? APPENDIX 2 INTERVIE W QUESTIONS FOR CONSERVATION AREA DIRECTORS 1. How many guards were employed before SINAC came into being and how many do you have employed now? 2. What do you hold a degree in? What was your former occupation before being employed by SINAC/MINAE? 3. Have the con ditions of the facilities at all improved or deteriorated since the consolidation of SINAC conservation areas? Have there been any RECENT construction projects? 4. SINAC states that areas are supposed to generate 50% of their funding on their own, including g eneral entrance fees, research permits, charges from environmental
13 sources. How much of this 50% component of your incoming funding is self generated? 5. How many projects have been implemented in the last five years that were geared towards economic and su stainable development? How many projects have been implemented strictly for biodiversity protection? 6. SINAC states that 15% of funding for each area should come from international aid. How much international aid funds your efforts? 7. SINAC states that 15% of funding for each area should come from endowments, trust funds and debt swaps. How much do you think your area receives from these sources? 8. SINAC states that 20% of funding for each area should come from the CR govÂ€t. How much money do you annually recei ve from the CR government? 9. To what degree do you think the local community is involved in SINAC initiatives? Very Involved, Somewhat Involved, and Not Involved at All? 10. If the local community is at least somewhat involved, how so? How does the community con tribute to decisions made in each conservation area? 11. How many people are currently employed in your area/office? How many people were employed before the consolidation under SINAC? 12. What are the main land use problems in your region that require projects for sustainable development and resources use 13. Do you think conservation for biodiversity protection in your area benefits more from more regional control or would it benefit more from a main control center e.g. San Jose main location? 14. Do you monitor the conservation areas you oversee? If so, what criteria do you rate them by? How often are these reviews performed? 15. Have you gained more forested area since SINAC came into play? If so, how many hectares? 16. What are the developmental pressures still threatening biodiversity protection and sustainability in your areas .