Mangrove description - Costa Rica

The Pacific coast of Costa Rica is about five times as long as the Caribbean coast due to a complex structure of many embayments, estuaries and gulfs. The mangrove forests of this coast make up 99% of all of Costa Rica's mangrove area. Relevant mangrove areas are found in the Golfo the Nicoya, in the Tivives Protection Zone, and in the Térraba-Sierpe Mangrove Forest Reserve, in the South of the country, which is the largest mangrove forest in the country. On the Atlantic coast small patches of mangroves are found in the north-east (Chirripó River), and north of Limón. In the north, mangroves are not highly developed structurally as they have a canopy height of only about 20 m due to the low rainfall and a long dry season (December to April). South of the Golfo de Nicoya, there is a. transition zone where the forests are more diverse and better developed, with trees reaching a height of 45 m as a result of higher rainfall and a shorter dry season (less than three months). Some of the species present in this country are: Avicennia bicolor, Laguncularia racemosa, Pelliciera rhizophorae and Rhizophora racemosa.

Uses and threats
The population explosion, started in the country in the early forties, had negative rub-off on the conservation of natural resources. The impact of the demographic growth didn¿t spare mangroves: the ecosystem was quickly affected by substitute activities or the procurement of forest products such as tannin (especially of Rhizophora bark), charcoal, construction material, etc. Mangroves land have been drained and converted, particularly in the Nicoya Gulf, to rice fields, salt ponds or to agriculture purposes and, more recently, to shrimp farm purposes. The collection of Anadara tuberculosa and Anadara similis from mangroves is one of the main activities among the procurement of non-wood products. In 1996, the legal action started by the end of the XIX century to protect the Costa Rican mangroves, finally resulted in the Law n. 7575 on Forests, which restricted felling and harvesting in mangroves areas.


Spalding, M.D., Blasco, F. & Field, C.D. eds. 1997 World Mangrove Atlas. The International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems, Okinawa, Japan. 178 pp.
Jímenez, J.A. 1994. Los manglares del Pacífico de Centroamérica. EFUNA, Heredia, Costa Rica. 352 pp.
Programa Nacional de Humedales, MINAE. 2001. Politica de humeadles de Costa Rica. http://www.ramsar.org/wurc_policy_costarica.htm
Pizarro, F. & Angulo, H. 1994. Diagnostico de los manglares de la costa Pacifica de Costa Rica. In: Suman, D.O. ed. 1994. El ecosistema de manglar en America Latina y la cuenca del Caribe: su manejo y conservación. p: 34-64. University of Miami and The Tinker Foundation. Miami. 263 pp.

Play a role in the preparation of the revised World Atlas of Mangroves

The information provided above will be used as an input to the revised World Atlas of Mangroves and as national level description in the Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2005 Thematic study on Mangroves.

During the past months the information has been updated thanks to the kind collaboration of several national and international experts, who has helped the Initiative in collecting recent data. The collection has been now completed and the page will be updated as soon as possible.

The Initiative would like to thank all the people who contributed with additional data, for the improvement of the information on this country. All the support provided will be duly acknowledged in the country profiles.
last updated:  Friday, October 6, 2006