Ricardo Sandí Sagot, Costa Rica

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Ricardo Sandí Sagot,  Organization for tropical studies, La Selva, Costa Rica

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2016 Profile: Ricardo Sandí Sagot
Organization for tropical studies, Costa Ricad
*-Organization full street address (in your local format): Estacion Biológica La Selva, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, Heredia, Costa Rica
*-Organization full mailing address, if different: P.O.BOX:676-2050 san pedro Costa Rica
*-Country: Costa Rica
*-Work phone with country and area code: (506)2766 65 65 ext: 130
*-Work fax with country and area code: (506)2766 65 35
*-Main email: ricardo.sandi@ots.cr
*-Organization Web site URL if any: http://www.ots.ac.cr/

describe the history of your personal work in conservation and GIS: Costa Rica is a small country but has an enormous biodiversity as well as extensive natural resources all over the country these reasons make decline for the environmental sciences, and more accurately for the geographical sciences where I found a world of unlimited opportunities to work with technologies applied to conservation and management of natural resources.

Here the people who does relevant things in conservation are foreigners, once I tough why we have to wait until somebody from abroad have to take care, or put the effort in preserve the national natural resources. In that moment I decided the most efficient way of practicing my career in Costa Rica was dedicating my work to apply and promote geo technologies as the ultimate tool for environmental conservation.

When I found an organization that allows me to apply the environmental research trough GIS was the time of start applying my career in the maximum level, a level that is not easy to achieve but it’s gratifying when you know you’re working in an organization that follows principles that will help the conservation of the country you call home.

dThe OTS has helped me to achieve the level of experience I want for my career, the conservation projects and educational conservation programs the organization works in, have given me the possibility of enhance my GIS workflows and methodologies applied to conservation.

The conservation in Costa Rica has existed since the 1970’s at that moment where stablish the first national parks and reserves nationwide. The OTS is one of the most well-known organizations in Costa Rica dedicated to conservation non-profit purposes, and La Selva biological station was founded in 1954 by Dr. Leslie Holdridge, for conservation issues the NGO’s has been models for government institutions throughout the time, for these reasons I always wanted to work for a conservation NGO, the private conservation projects have been gaining lots of investors and collaborators in Costa Rica, which turns the scenario of the private biological reserves in an immensely opportunity of apply the GIS in conservation projects all across the country. So the linkage with the conservation GIS and me Is pretty much trough my background and the richness of the natural resources in my country.

describe the work that your current organization does: The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) is a nonprofit consortium of nearly sixty universities, colleges, and research institutions from around the world. In the dearly 1960's, scientists from U.S. universities forged working relationships with colleagues at the Universidad de Costa Rica in the interest of strengthening education and research in tropical biology. Intense interest, both in the U.S. and in Costa Rica, led to the founding of OTS in 1963. OTS was founded to provide leadership in education, research and the responsible use of natural resources in the tropics. To this end, OTS offers intensive field courses for undergraduates, graduate students, and natural resource professionals in tropical biology and related disciplines in Costa Rica and South Africa. OTS maintains research stations in three ecologically diverse ecosystems in Costa Rica.
La Selva Biological Station is located in the Caribbean lowland at the northern base of Braulio Carrillo National Park and recognized internationally as one of the premier sites in the world for ongoing research in lowland rain forests. In particular, work on climate change and its impact on biodiversity in tropical wet forests has become a significant area of study at the station. Available online (ots.cr).La Selva counts with 1600 hectares of protected forest, we receive researchers from all over the world the station registers a year 300 Scientifics, 150 research projects, 100 college’s courses, 140 scientific publications, most likely based on ecology, biology, GIS, conservation, remote sensing and other environmental sciences.

La Selva Staff cooperates with the Sarapiquí communities giving scientific and professional support to public institutions we help them with maps, GIS works, environmental education talks, advice in botanics, and other issues. As well as provide the same kind of help or support to private biological reserves located in our community, besides we impart talks in primary schools about environmental education, natural hazards, and other subjects. In the biological station once a year we promote an open scientific fair day usually held in November, in order to get closer with the community and to spread conservation thoughts through the people.

I would like to mention that at this moment I’m facilitating advise to the Sarapiquí‘s municipality in terms of urban planning, dbecause they do not have professionals with knowledge enough to monitor the environmental or ecological thematic axis in regards to vulnerability of forest, wetlands, rivers, urban growth and other subjects that can affect the conservation of natural resources in the region.


My role in the organization is as a Head of GIS LAB, I’ve been working in La Selva biological station since July 2013, this is a position completely dedicated to GIS knowledge because the main duties are providing support to researchers working at La Selva in a big range of subjects like ecology, land uses, remote sensing, aerial photographs interpretations, mapping, field work, gps data recollection methodologies, providing support in geospatial analysis to stakeholders of the biological station for internal issues. La Selva receives high volume of groups mainly students graduate and undergraduate for diversity of courses, if any of the professors request support in classes or talks I help them out with previous appointment, besides we’re working in our own research projects, the main one at this point is a project called “Riverine Biological Corridors as alternative of Biodiversity Conservation of the Sarapiquí River Basin”. This project begun on June 2014 with a debt exchange fund, in this specific project I’m directing the methodology to select forest patches and viable interconnections between them, as well as generating all the GIS and remote sensing products required for the project’s goals(geospatial analytics, cartography, modeling, digitizing, field work, geodatabases acquisition).I’ve been included in collaboration projects with other non-profit conservation organizations, like TEAM network, Panthera, FUNDECOR, San Juan-La Selva biological corridor, I have contribute to poaching control and monitoring inside the La Selva property, and I’m continuous collaborator of non-profit private biological reserves in the Costa Rican north Atlantic basically in geospatial information support.

describe what is the most unique and the most challenging about the conservation/GIS work that you do: All my life I lived in the city, surrounded by the urban chaos, where the clean drivers doesn’t exists, where there’s no trees, where the silence is just a ghost that somebody saw a long time ago, the city is a living organism created by the human actions, a living organism that in the Costa Rican case is more a living monster, not regulated by the government until a few years ago, becoming in the urban monster I used to live until 19 months ago. At that time my journey through the GIS applied to conservation begun, I start working for one of the most prestigious field stations in the world, and certainly in the tropics, located in a large preserved lowland forest I found a place that showed me the hidden treasures of the rural areas in Costa Rica, places where the natural ecosystems are been threatened by the urban monster in the metropolitan periphery as well as the rapid agricultural border expansion threat in the most far away forests.

The La Selva’s biodiversity is something that words might not be enough to explain, we can register the number of species like 45 fish species, 125 mammals species,48 amphibians species 469 birds species, 57 snakes species, the old growth forest that has never been intervened by the human the crystal clear rivers that born in the Braulio Carrillo national park, because La Selva ends in the border of this national park, which means that this two protected areas are connected from the 2300 meters above sea level finishing in the 43 meters above sea level in the north La Selva limit, these environmental factors transform my work in the perfect opportunity to apply geo-technologies for conservation in tropical lowland rainforests.

For all the scenario I’m describing I consider the most exiting about my work is the opportunity to collaborate with research to understand our natural resources, to contribute against the climate change, to do research in a country that invest almost nothing in conservation or ecology research, for having the chance of process data that is not common in my country, to know people that I consider scientific legends, but the more gratifying from my work is the feeling of doing something that is relevant in order to help the conservation and management of the national natural resources.d

The main challenges of mi work are the lack of budget, the uncontrolled urban planning, the insignificant governmental investment in research, and last but not least the expansion of the agricultural border in northern Costa Rica that significates a real time hazard for the protected areas in this region.
In the moment of planning a research project the first point to think about is the budget, the OTS has had a hard time for financial difficulties and deficits in the last 5 years, situation that Is not helping me at the time of acquiring software or equipment for new applications or new research projects I would like to start working on. The urban land use is growing in the rural areas in the northern region, as well as the agricultural border, the deforestation is being a phenomenon not really restricted by government institutions or municipalities there is only one ministry that takes care of that issues and is the “Ministerio de Ambiente y Energia”, certainly for this motives is necessary to stablish periodical monitoring in the land use changes around La Selva and Braulio Carrillo national park becoming in one of the main challenges in conservation in the region I’m working on right now.
























2016 ABSTRACT:  . "Land use monitoring based on GIS techniques as resource for tropical Forest conservation in Costa Rica"

From a monitoring perspective the use of remote sensing and GIS technologies has developed the capability of interpretation, quantification and planning, deriving variables in terms of incorporating more environmental analysis methods. Specifically here it’s introduced and discussed the case of an analysis ran for a Landsat ETM + 2014 image of north Atlantic Costa Rica where you can perceived severe land exploitation for monocrops covering large areas which shows inequalities for the sustainable land management and planning of the region. Apart from the derived results, this study also shows the potentiality of remote sensing and GIS techniques for the analysis of land use patterns.