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Regional Climate Change Program promotes methodological harmonization to build REDD+ strategies in the region

Shirley Orozco
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The Regional Climate Change Program of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) encourages information and technology transfer to harmonize measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems and monitoring for REDD+ in Central America and the Dominican Republic.

With the objective of harmonizing these MRV systems, professionals from the governments of Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize and the Dominican Republic participated in the “First Edition of the Diploma Program in Integrated Monitoring of Ecosystem Services with an Emphasis on Actions to Mitigate Climate Change.” This diploma program, held from June 1-26, was implemented by CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) under the auspices of the regional program.

During the development of the diploma program, these professionals strengthened their skills in the design, establishment and implementation of national and sub-national MRV systems that allow countries to estimate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from REDD+ strategies. At the same time, participants are encouraged to explore the monitoring of other ecosystem services, according to Mario Chacón, coordinator of the diploma program.

Franz Tattenbach, Director of the Regional Climate Change Program, explained that participants were selected by the departments that promote REDD+ strategies in the ministries of the environment in the countries in the region, and are key staff members from governments and academic and research institutions.

José Gildardo Gálvez, advisor for the Environmental Information System of the Guatemalan Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, and one of the participants in the training program, expressed, “All the countries in the region are generating the information necessary to establish the national REDD+ strategy, but we do not all have the tools to develop it. To have common indicators of the factors that affect us all and improve our knowledge is a tremendous step to strengthen our technical capacities to undertake this task in a harmonious manner as a region.”

Likewise, Roney Samaniego, analyst in Environmental Information Systems from the Panamanian National Environment Authority (ANAM), coincided with this position: “The objective that the Regional Climate Change Program strives for is strategic for our territories. It is very difficult to achieve exchanges at the country level, but if we have a technical exchange at the same level, we can form alliances among countries to reduce emissions and obtain other technical and information benefits.”

The four courses offered in the diploma program included lectures by experts, discussions and individual and group exercises, where participants were encouraged to develop case studies and share their experiences. Participants also went on field trips to review concepts and apply the knowledge acquired, stated Chacón.

 

More information:

Shirley Orozco Estrada
Communication
USAID’s Regional Climate Change Program
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On-line master’s program in watershed management launched

Cris Soto
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On July 6, CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) launched the first On-line Master’s program in Watershed Management, which aims to strengthen the capacities and competences of 25 professionals interested in watershed management and co-management from different countries including Costa Rica, Haiti, Ecuador, Peru and Guatemala, among others.

According to Jorge Faustino, coordinator of the master’s program, water, soil, forests and other natural resources are essential for human survival and welfare and for many sectors of the economy. Nevertheless, Faustino indicated that, “In most of our countries, there is an accelerated degradation of these natural resources and of the environment due to their poor management and planning.”

Faustino explained that this new academic offering at CATIE opens the possibility for many more people to train in all of the spheres of action related to watershed management and face these challenges. He added that “It is a master’s program that offers an invaluable professional opportunity.”

This academic program awards a master’s degree backed by the oldest graduate university in agriculture and natural resources in Latin America, as well as classes with high-level professors with great cultural diversity. Likewise, it offers the advantage of an on-line program that allows students to remain in their countries and where the investment constitutes a fraction of the cost of in-classroom master’s programs.

There is a theoretical phase and an applied phase within the master’s program; graduation work is conducted during the latter phase. The master’s program has a total duration of 21 months.

 

More information:

Jorge Faustino
Coordinator, On-line distance Master’s program in Watershed Management
CATIE
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Science seeks to decrease the effects of drought in Guanacaste

 Marianela Argüello L.
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A bleak picture, with scenarios of dry pastures, undernourished cattle and creeks and wells that have disappeared. This is the painful image that can be seen before the onset of the rainy season in the province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, the region where the FuturAgua project works to strengthen technical scientific information that allows the inhabitants of the province to make better decisions regarding processes for adaptation to climate change.

The development of FuturAgua comes at the right time, since presently Guanacaste faces its second consecutive year of drought, which generates important challenges for water management, the development of productive activities such as agriculture and tourism, as well as for the Guanacastecans’ daily activities.

“Right now Guanacaste faces the consequences of droughts during the past few years; many of our communities do not have sufficient water to conduct their daily activities, wells are dry and springs have disappeared. We are suffering from the lack of water,” were the words of Xinia Campos, representative of the Nicoyagua Foundation and one of the local partners who supports the implementation of FuturAgua.

Specifically, the work of FuturAgua has focused on the development of research on hydrological and climatic condition in the region, as well as on socioeconomic studies, in which innovative methods are being generated that will serve as a guide to orient water management throughout the world. Likewise, the project aims to promote local impacts through the identification of key strategies for inter-institutional coordination and gaps in public water management policies and the need to strengthen local capacities for adaptation.

 

Pável Bautista, researcher in the Latin American Chair for Environmental Decisions (CLADA), of the Climate Change and Watersheds Program (CCWP) at CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center), informed that the preliminary results of the project indicate that rains in Guanacaste follow a bi-modal pattern, which is being used to characterize inter-annual climate variability and create climate change scenarios that are better adapted for the region. Bautista added that the projections of these scenarios will be combined with data regarding availability and demand of water from the Potrero-Caimital watershed, in order to come up with projections of the impact of climate change on water resources.            

Information at your fingertips

You can find the following information in the FuturAgua project’s Web site (http://futuragua.ca/ubc/inicio/):         

 

“This information will be analyzed and shared with relevant actors in the area to facilitate their interpretation, promote the generation of policies that are better adapted and evaluate a priori the challenges that climate change is imposing on Guanacastecans’ productive activities and life in general,” added the researcher from CLADA.

On the other hand, socioeconomic studies have determined the influence of local perceptions on water management, as well as the identification of relevant actors from each productive and social sector in water resource management. A second phase of this research will determine the gaps in water governance and limitations in resource flows, including financial and information resources, which hinder conflict resolution.

In order to inform and achieve appropriation by local actors, the project organizes meetings or workshops on “Sharing knowledge to strengthen adaptation to drought in Guanacaste.”

These efforts will end with the integrated analysis of the results of the project to generate teaching tools that facilitate the dissemination and understanding of these results, such as interactive games, videos and simulation models.

FuturAgua is implemented by a consortium composed by the CLADA at CATIE, the International Center for Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD), the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). It is also supported by an advisory group of key local partners comprised by the Tempisque Conservation Area (TCA), the Nicoyagua Foundation, the Municipality of Nicoya, the National University of Costa Rica (UNA), the Chamber of Cattlemen, the Costa Rican Institution of Aqueducts and Sewers of Nicoya (AyA) and the Community Water Associations.

 

More information:

Pável Bautista
Researcher and associate coordinator
FuturAgua
CLADA
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http://futuragua.ca/ubc/inicio/

 

Marianela Argüello L.
Communications Officer
Climate Change and Watersheds Program
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Conserving the environment could improve human health

 Karla Salazar Leiva
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Frequently we have heard talk about the importance of conserving the environment and the services that it offers us. Nevertheless, there are very few scientific data that prove why ecosystem conservation benefits us. In the face of this void, Subhrendu Pattanayak, professor of world health, environment and public policy at Duke University, in Durham, North Caroline, United States, undertook the task of conducting a study in this regard in the Brazilian Amazon.

During the first semester of 2015, Pattanayak visited CATIE’s Research in Development, Economics and Environment Program (IDEA), and as part of his sabbatical, shared his principal research findings.

The most important conclusion from the study is that the measures or policies adopted to protect ecosystems and environment can offer benefits for public health. For example, it was proven that the strictly protected Amazon areas can function as a barrier for the transmission of diseases such as malaria.

Pattanayak and his research group focused on studying three diseases: malaria, acute respiratory infections (ARI) and diarrhea, including variables such as climate, demographics, public health services and changes in land use.

During the research, it was determined that the incidence of malaria, ARI and diarrhea were significantly lower close to strictly protected areas, which conserve their biodiversity and restrict the entry of humans. Meanwhile, the incidence of malaria was greater in protected areas considered to be of sustainable use, where people can enter and obtain forest products.

The research was carried out in the Amazon since, according to Pattanayak, science must be conducted in important places for humanity who have scant scientific data. “Science must be made in places where there has been little research in order to build local capacity that helps respond to existing problems. Every year, nearly five million people die in the world from the three diseases that we analyzed,” added Pattanayak.

As a reflection after his research, Pattanayak also called to the scientific community to conduct more research on human health. “The world is not divided in disciplines, nor in crop scientists or economists; we all get sick and we are affected by the environment. This is why it is important to set aside these divisions and work in the same direction to seek human welfare. That is the true challenge. Human health depends on the planet’s health,” he said.

Professor Pattanayak has dedicated his research to issues related to health economics and the evaluation of forest ecosystem services, focusing principally on socially marginal populations and on the examination of policies that are motivated by inequality. Likewise, he is a member of the South Asian Network on Development and Environmental Economics.

 More information:

Karla Salazar Leiva
Office of Communication and Incidence
CATIE
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Eugenia León
Research in Development, Economics and Environment Program
CATIE
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CATIE seeks to produce energy from wood in Costa Rica

 Karla Salazar Leiva
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Humans currently consume energy every day; this resource has become practically indispensable in our lives. Added to this, the population is increasing daily, and demanding greater amounts of energy. For this reason, CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) and the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (ITCR) launched a project in Costa Rica to produce energy from wood.

As part of the project’s actions, on June 4, CATIE’s Commercial Farm established a trial of an energy-producing forest plantation of approximately 7000 trees, which is comprised of three blocks.

“In this trial, we will establish three forest species to quantify biomass production by species and by density (5000, 10,000 and 20,000 trees per hectare), and thus generate biomass production models. Likewise, we will quantify establishment, management and harvest costs of this type of trial and conduct a study of the carbon balance and measure several ecological aspects,” explained Jean Pierre Morales, researcher from the Territorial Forest Management Chair at CATIE.

The initiative aims to develop efficient production models through the generation of forest biomass for its transformation into energy, and thus benefit the enterprises that use heat to develop their industrial processes, agro-industries that wish to enter into electrical co-generation processes and enterprises that wish to generate their own electricity.

According to Morales, the project is focused on placing a value on forest biomass as a source of energy and creating a form of sustainable production that covers the present and future demands for energy of the consumers in the region.

On an industrial scale, the project seeks three basic solutions: generate a stable and homogenous supply of biomass for energy production, generate processes for energy efficiency, and reduce the carbon footprint and the surplus of the sale of electricity. At the same time it will seek to decrease dependence of fossil fuels to produce energy at the national level, and provide non-conventional sources of renewable energy such as forest biomass.

This five-year project, called Technological encouragement   for the production, conversion and use of biomass for energy and biomaterials from forestry lignocellulosic tree crops in the context of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), is implemented within the framework of cooperation between CATIE and ITCR with funds from the Costa Rican Ministry of Science and Technology (MICIT) and the Korean Forestry Research Institute (KFRI).

 

More information:

Karla Salazar Leiva
Office of Communication and Incidence
CATIE
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