Costa Rica working with Crowther Lab on ground-breaking eco-transparency program

Enhancing transparency using ecosystem science

We’re working to monitor and support Costa Rica’s payments for ecosystem services program. This will bring transparency to the country’s ground-breaking intervention and demonstrate which strategies are successfully revitalising nature at a national scale.

ETH Zurich, via its Crowther Lab, is partnering with the government of Costa Rica and the nature restoration hub Restor to develop and implement scientific tools and methods to enhance transparency around ecosystem management.

The collaboration aims to improve the quality of climate and biodiversity data, which will be made available to the global environment movement to support data-driven climate action and decision-making. The data can also facilitate environmental integrity in nature-based solutions carbon markets.

“It’s inspiring to see a country committing so much to environmental transparency. Costa Rica is a shining example of what the environmental movement needs,” said Prof. Dr. Thomas Crowther, founder of Crowther Lab and ETH Zurich spinoff Restor.

A step towards standardised biodiversity monitoring

Crowther Lab will support the development of a toolkit that will help the Costa Rican government monitor biodiversity. Additionally, the lab will develop tools that can be useful for integrating national and international monitoring datasets.

One key challenge to addressing biodiversity loss is land use. To that end, Crowther Lab will study the impact of different land use strategies on natural resources in different regions across the country. The analysis of national forest cover will offer a tool for aligning national and international deforestation monitoring efforts – developing an approach that can be used by others for globally standardised forest monitoring.

Policy diffusion for the environment

Since 1990, Costa Rica has doubled the size of its forest, becoming the first tropical country to reverse deforestation, going from 34% forest cover in 1977 to 52% today. “Today, Costa Rica is committed to decarbonizing its economy, an opportunity for innovation and economic growth,” said the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada. “When we protect the environment, we protect our economy,” he emphasised.

The government of Costa Rica will promote the tools and methods that result from the collaboration with other countries and interested stakeholders.

“By sharing our payment for ecosystem services projects on Restor, Costa Rica is making its commitments on forest loss and recovery transparent, traceable, and accountable,” said Andrea Meza Murillo, Costa Rica’s minister of environment and energy. “We hope this will inspire other countries to do the same.”

Restor: the global hub for nature restoration

Restor is providing onboarding support for the payment of ecosystem service projects in Costa Rica, as well as conceptualising the design of a data management system for the country. Gathering thousands of nature-based projects into a single open-access platform will facilitate project-to-project connections as a basis for collective learning and the development of a nature-based solutions carbon market.