Member Type Country

Costa Rica



Mauricio Méndez Venegas
Technical Director, Tempisque Conservation Area
National System of Conservation Areas
[email protected]

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The Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) has the mission of contributing to the improvement of Costa Rican’s quality of life by promoting the management, conservation, and sustainable development of the country’s environmental and natural elements, goods, services, and natural resources, guaranteeing the necessary and full harmony between national development activities, respect for nature and the legal consolidation of citizens’ rights in this matter.

MINAE’s vision is to consolidate itself as an environmental management system that allows Costa Rica to position itself positively in terms of international competitiveness (political, environmental and commercial), and which strengthened in its capacity for public management, responds to the requirements of management, conservation and sustainable use of environmental and natural resources under the leadership of the Rector Minister of the Environment and Energy Sector.

As part of MINAE, the Vice-minister for Water and the Ocean is responsible for the conservation and promotion of the sustainable use of water, coastal and marine resources through the coordination of policies, strategies and plans among the competent institutions towards the integrated management of resources, promoting the participation of various sectors that allow comprehensive approaches in the management of water, marine and coastal resources.

The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) integrates the competencies in forestry, wildlife, protected areas and the protection and conservation of the use of hydrographic basins and water systems to dictate policies, plan and execute processes aimed at achieving sustainability in natural resources’ management of Costa Rica.

SINAC is a concept of comprehensive conservation that offers the possibility of developing responsible public management with the participation of the State, Civil Society, private companies, and each person in the country interested and committed to building a healthy and ecologically balanced environment.

Related website:
Background Information

Surface of Coral Reefs: 970 km2

Coral Reef initiative or task force

The Corals Council. The Council has the following functions:

a) Identify and apply the necessary technical measures to comply with current national and international regulations.

b) Carry out technical analyses of positive and negative interactions related to the development of productive activities and the conservation of wildlife in the country.

c) Collaborate in the development of planning, regulatory or technical instruments for conservation and sustainable use.

d) Support those issues related to reef ecosystems in which the Ministry of Environment and Energy requests its technical criteria.

MPA Information

MPA(s) with coral reefs: 9

Isla del Coco National Park
Santa Elena Management Marine Area
Santa Rosa National Park
Cabo Blanco Natural Absolute Reserve
Manuel Antonio National Park
Marino Ballena National Park
Isla del Caño Biological Reserve
Cahuita National Park
Gandoca – Manzanillo Wildlife National Refuge

Learn more about the protected areas of Costa Rica here.

World Heritage Sites

Sites with Coral Reefs: 1

Ramsar Sites

Sites with Coral Reefs: 2

  1. Isla del Coco National Park:

Freshwater springs; oases (Y), Permanent freshwater marshes/pools; ponds (below 8 ha), marshes and swamps on inorganic soils; with emergent vegetation water-logged for at least most of the growing season (Tp), Seasonal/intermittent/irregular rivers/streams/creeks (N) Permanent rivers/streams/creeks; includes waterfalls (M), Rocky marine shores; includes rocky offshore islands, sea cliffs (D), Coral reefs (C), Permanent shallow marine waters in most cases less than six metres deep at low tide; includes sea bays and straits (A).

2. Gandoca – Manzanillo Wildlife National Refuge:

Freshwater, tree-dominated wetlands; includes freshwater swamp forest, seasonally flooded forest, wooded swamps; on inorganic soils (Xf), Coastal freshwater lagoons; includes freshwater delta lagoons (K), Intertidal forested wetlands; includes mangrove swamps, nipah swamps and tidal freshwater swamp forests (I), Sand, shingle or pebble shores; includes sandbars, spits and sandy islets; includes dune systems and humid dune slacks (E), Rocky marine shores; includes rocky offshore islands, sea cliffs (D), Coral reefs (C), Marine subtidal aquatic beds; includes kelp beds, sea-grass beds, tropical marine meadows (B), Permanent shallow marine waters in most cases less than six metres deep at low tide; includes sea bays and straits (A).

More information

Costa Rica has a “Protocol for the restoration of coral reefs and coral communities” which guides coral restoration projects so that professionals in science and environmental management can have a clearer picture of the potential of coral restoration in terms of management so that this way they can establish reliable goals in favour of reef ecosystems.

Last Updated: 8 November 2022