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Applications of ecosystem health for the sustainability of managed systems in Costa Rica

Applications of ecosystem health for the sustainability of managed systems in Costa Rica

Ecosystem Health 5(1): 36-48

A growing body of literature explores the links between the social and ecological dimensions of sustainability. However, much remains to be researched, especially concerning managed ecosystems. Costa Rica has approximately 25% of its area under some conservation regime; many of these protected areas, especially in and near urban areas, are under private ownership and management. Among these is the regime of the protected zones (PZ) that seeks to protect watershed resources. The achievement of conservation objectives in these areas will not only depend on ecological conditions but also on social and economic ones. This framework provides a good field in which to explore the interrelations between sustainability and ecosystem health. This study summarizes the work I participated in the last three years at the Center for Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica. We developed a holistic ecosystem health indicator (HEHI) for managed ecosystems. This indicator was tested several times in seven PZs in the east, south, and west sections of the central valley of Costa Rica. The evaluation tool includes measurements of productivity, organization, and resilience of the ecosystems. These were combined with social indicators and resource use patterns from the communities surrounding the PZs studied. The use of this indicator and the conclusions of this project could justify the use of an integral approach to address conservation problems in developing nations. The creation and management of these protected areas should be the result of a combined effort between community organizations and government agencies dealing with land distribution, zoning, and public health, among others.

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Accession: 010197737

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DOI: 10.1046/j.1526-0992.1999.09905.x

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