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INBioparque-Learning While Recreating

Volume 1 Number 18 - July 1999

Natalia Zamora

The mission of the National Biodiversity Institute is to promote knowledge and awareness of biodiversity for conservation and to improve the quality of life.  In order to develop 'bioliteracy' within society; tools and infrastructure are needed to deliver messages to as many people as possible in an enjoyable and interactive manner.  Due to this need INBio park is in the process of being created.

INBio park will be an educational and recreational space that will promote and inform people about the national parks, biodiversity and ecosystems of Costa Rica as well as the work of the National Biodiversity Institute. The park will have interpretative trails and displays of living collections of different species.  Only fifteen minutes away from the capital city of Costa Rica, visitors will be able to learn about and enjoy nature.

The National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) is a scientific institution with a social orientation.  It is non-profit organisation and is for the public good.  The mission of INBio is to promote a new awareness of the value of biodiversity, and thereby achieve its conservation and use to improve the quality of life.

INBio generates knowledge about biodiversity.  It communicates and promotes this information in ways that are designed to be responsive to a broad spectrum of national and international users.  One of INBio´s main objectives is to support bioliteracy, which it defines as: 'a learning process through time that leads the individual to value biodiversity, adopt an ethic of respect for life and assume responsibility for the management and conservation of all living beings and ecosystems.  To promote changes of behaviour that favour a harmonious relationship with nature to achieve human sustainable development.'  To fulfil this mission, adequate tools and infrastructure are needed to disseminate the information to as many people as possible and in an enjoyable and interactive manner.  This is the reason for the creation of  INBioparque situated in the colonial town of Santo Domingo de Heredia, 10-15 minutes by car away from San José.  The land was formally a coffee plantation that had been abandoned for many years.

INBioparque´s main objectives will be:
  • To inform about, and promote Costa Rica’s biodiversity, conservation efforts and national parks.
  • To show representative samples of the country’s ecosystems and biodiversity, using live collections of several species for non-formal educational purposes.
  • To create a Biodiversity, Conservation and National Parks Information Center that may serve as the initial stage of the tourists’ agenda.
  • To inform about INBio’s activities, thus, enhancing Costa Ricans’ appreciation of biodiversity resources.
INBioparque will be a recreational and educational place that will have permanent interactive bioexhibits of Costa Rica’s biodiversity, national parks and ecosystems, as well as of INBio’s activities.  The park will also include an outdoor area with interpreted nature trails and live collections of several species, where visitors can learn and enjoy nature close to Costa Rica´s Capital City.  Local people in particular, are very excited about the creation of INBioparque, which will provide them with an interesting and educational location in which to spend their free time.

The main users of INBioparque will be:
  • Schoolchildren interested in learning about biodiversity and ecological interactions
  • High-school students interested in increasing their biodiversity knowledge
  • University students interested in enhancing their specialized biodiversity knowledge
  • Adults who want to learn about biodiversity during their spare time
  • Costa Rican families who want to enjoy themselves while learning
  • Foreign visitors who come to Costa Rica to enjoy themselves while learning about the country’s biodiversity and national parks
  • Organized groups who want to enhance their knowledge about Costa Rica’s biodiversity and conservation issues.

Many species are capable of adapting to various climatic conditions, therefore it is possible to create different live collections.  It will not be possible however, to recreate specific ecosystems precisely as some microclimates are difficult to imitate due to poor soil conditions, topography, humidity and rainfall.

However, partial imitation of some ecosystems will be possible by cultivating and grouping some species that can grow in Santo Domingo’s environment.  The species will be distributed in four life zones: 1) a rain forest, 2) a dry forest, 3) a pre mountainous forest of Central Valley and 4) a lagoon.  There will also be an area dedicated to domesticated biodiversity with a butterfly farm and medicinal, aromatic and ornamental plants and fruit trees.   Approximately five hectares (50,000 m2) of land is available to develop this project.

There are also plans to develop habitats for some animal species such as insects, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians and small mammals.  A wetland-lagoon will be built to provide shelter for some of the amphibians, mammals and fish that need a wet environment.  It will also serve as an educational tool to teach topics such as food chains and life cycles.

Exhibits of live social insects; such as bees and ants, some beetles, spiders and scorpions, will be built along the trails, as well as a small live butterfly collection to explain the concept of metamorphosis.  

INBioparque is an initiative to carry out activities with the goal of supporting bioliteracy and a place where the visitors can learn about biodiversity and have fun at the same time.  It will open its doors to the public next November.


L’Institut National de la Biodviersité a pour mission d’encourager la connaissance et la sensibilisation du public sur la conservation de la biodiversité et d’améliorer la qualité de la vie.  Afin de développer la ‘bio-instruction’ dans certains secteurs socioculturels de la société, d’y transmettre ses messages au plus grand nombre de personnes possible, des outils et des infrastructures sont nécessaires.  Pour répondre à ce besoin se crée le parc INBio.

Le Parc INBio sers un espace éducatif et récréatif qui promotionnera et informera le public au sujet des parcs nationaux, de la biodiversité et des écosystèmes du Costa rica, mais aussi sur le travail de l’Institut National de la Biodiversité.

Le Parc montera aussi, à l’aide de collections vivantes et interprétatives, de plein air, comment à quinze minutes seulement de la capitale du Costa Rica, les visiteurs pourraient ‘apprendre’ la nature et s’en divertir.


El Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad tiene la misión de divulgar el conocimiento sobre biodiversidad y a la vez promover una nueva conciencia sobre el valor de la misma, para lograr su conservación y mejorar la calidad de vida del ser humano.  Para cumplir con la misión de apoyar la bioalfabetización de algunos sectores de la sociedad se necesitan herramientas acordes con la necesidad de llevar el mensaje a la mayor cantidad posible de personas, para esto se creará el INBioparque.

El INBioparque será un espacio educativo y recreativo que promocionará e informará sobre los parques nacionales y la biodiversidad de Costa Rica.  Además, el INBioparque contendrá áreas de exhibiciones permanentes sobre la biodiversidad, los parques nacionales y los ecosistemas de Costa Rica, así como la labor del INBio.  El INBioparque contará también con un área al aire libre con senderos interpretados y muestras de colecciones vivas de diferentes especies, en la que se podrá tanto aprender como disfrutar de la naturaleza a quince minutos de la ciudad capital de Costa Rica.

About the Author

Natalia Zamora is the Coordinadora Gestión Social of the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio), AA 22-3100, Santo Domingo, Heridia, Costa Rica. Tel: (506) 244 0690.  Fax: (506) 244 2816. Email: