New & Notable on Wide Range of Specialists Working in Concert to Help Rural Farmers

Project Name: Synecology and Restoration of Terrestrial Ecosystems

Managing organization: Research Program in Synecology and Restoration of Terrestrial Ecosystems, University of Costa Rica

Project director(s): Edgar Gutiérrez Espeleta and Felipe Montoya Greenheck.

Synopsis: The Research Program in Synecology and Restoration of Terrestrial Ecosystems (SIRECO) of the University of Costa Rica began in 1992, in response to the degradation of our terrestrial ecosystems, which are the product of complex cultural, ecological, and economic interactions. SIRECO consists of a multidisciplinary team that interprets ecosystem interactions in order to address degradation problems and find solutions for the sustainable development of our natural resources, economy, and communities. The multidisciplinary team includes soil scientists, ecologists, geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, geologists, agronomists, statisticians, economists and foresters. Once the team makes an interpretation, they try to facilitate ecosystem restoration of regions or zones over-exploited by agriculture or ranching, and provide information required for the establishment of areas to protect biodiversity and for the establishment of production units where adjacent communities can benefit through participation. To advance their assignment, SIRECO combines various research projects, including “Restoration of the Picagres River watershed in Puriscal”; “Participatory planning of model integrated farms for the highlands of the Picagres River watershed”; and “Fostering participatory genetic-improvement in traditional crop and forestry species.”

Principal funders: Vicerrectoría de Investigación de la Universidad de Costa Rica; GTZ (German International Development Agency); US Forest Service; Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería, Costa Rica; Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía de Costa Rica (MINAE).

Lessons learned: Interdisciplinary investigation is very rich in results but quite complicated to carry out, because a continuous dialogue must be carried about among all the disciplines, each one of which has a different perspective and particular objectives. Difficulties also arise in conducting applied academic research that meets the real needs of small farmers. Despite these difficulties, we believe that the model of combining investigators from various disciplines to carry out applied research projects with the direct participation of small rural farmers, allows optimum and effective use of the nation’s scientific and technical capabilities to serve and collaborate closely with the rural small farming sector.


Observatorio del Desarrollo
Universidad de Costa Rica
Ciudad Universitaria Rodrigo Facio
San Pedro Montes de Oca, Costa Rica
Tel: +506/207-4878

Read more about this project in the Eco-Index:


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