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Trends in environmental education for biodiversity conservation in Costa Rica


Costa Rica is internationally recognized for its abundant biodiversity and being a leader in the promotion of education strategies for biodiversity conservation. We interviewed staff from 16 institutions developing key environmental communication, education, and participation projects for biodiversity conservation in the country. Through content analysis, hierarchical cluster analysis and Chi-square tests, we examined the characteristics of the projects carried out by these institutions and developed a typology of four categories derived from six variables: primary audience, content, project purpose, location, scale, and facility. Then, we designed a conceptual model describing the integration of conservation and economic development in the educational projects. We found two key approaches related to this integration: vision of nature protection which aims to inform audiences of ecological concepts and focuses on schoolchildren and vision of sustainability which engages adult audiences and is management-oriented. Education for community-based environmental management may serve as a good example of educational projects which integrate conservation and economic development, implementing a vision of sustainability.

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  1. 1.

    The Spanish names of organizations and agencies are translated into English for this document, but their abbreviations are retained in Spanish.

  2. 2.

    After these data were collected, financial challenges at INBio lead to the sale of INBioparque in 2014, which was bought by the SINAC. Currently, INBio is still responsible for the management of the center with a license extended until 2016.


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We thank all of the people in Costa Rica who participated in or assisted with the field work, especially INBio workers, park rangers from SINAC and K. Aguilar. We also thank I. Iniesta, C. Charpentier, G. Aguilar, and M. Muñoz for helping with the data collection instruments and P. Morais and M.J. Díaz for a helpful review of the paper. This research was supported by a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and by a collaboration agreement between INBio and the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid.

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Correspondence to Amanda Jiménez.



See Table 4.

Table 4 Name of the 45 projects described in the interviews and the institutions conducting them (names are shown as abbreviations, for full names see Table 1)

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Jiménez, A., Monroe, M.C., Zamora, N. et al. Trends in environmental education for biodiversity conservation in Costa Rica. Environ Dev Sustain 19, 221–238 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-015-9734-y

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  • Costa Rica
  • Biodiversity education
  • Community-based management
  • Biological education
  • Green classrooms
  • Integration
  • Sustainability