CATIE Student Interviews

Laura Segura Rodríguez
Credit: CATIE

Nazaret Bogarín Bermúdez
Credit: Isabel Bogarín

Adolfo Artavia Rodríguez
Credit: Karla Aguilar



Laura Segura Rodríguez
Credit: CATIE

Student name: Laura Segura Rodríguez
Country of origin: Costa Rica

  1. What inspired you to pursue a career in conservation?

  2. I majored in accounting at a technical college, and when it was time to do my internship, I realized that business was not my thing. Then I had the opportunity to enter forestry and as I gained work experience I began to realize that it involved working a lot with communities and groups, and that it is the people that make conservation possible. This is why I’m studying again. What inspires me above all to pursue conservation is the hope of achieving changes that can really guide development efforts that are in balance with conservation. We need a different model for development.

  3. Why did you choose the Master’s in Conservation Practices and Biodiversity (the Program)?

  4. I currently work in the National System of Conservation Areas (Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservación; SINAC) and I wanted to strengthen my practical skills that are needed on a daily basis to work effectively in local development and conservation.

  5. What was the single most valuable skill that you learned through the Program?

  6. There were several. It was a challenge to develop a strategic plan at a territorial (landscape) level for my Graduation Work, but at the same time, the practical use of  location-based analysis (including human/community capital) and adaptive management were also important to me.

  7. In your opinion, what is the greatest conservation challenge of our time in your country/region or world-wide?

  8. The greatest conservation challenge is that biodiversity and its conservation be considered a valued resource within the country’s economy or development. This needs to be a political issue that affects decision-making at all levels.

  9. How do you plan to use the skills that you’ve gained through the Program to address natural resource exploitation?

  10. The outcome of my Graduation Work is a strategic planning document at the territorial (landscape) level, and even though the spatial scale is at a local level, the information and plan developed through a participatory process will be put into practice by the Local Council of Tortuguero National Park. I will continue playing a facilitator role in this process.

  11. Costa Rica is considered a country that protects its environment and biodiversity. What are the keys to Costa Rica’s success in this regard?

  12. In my opinion, it’s the conservation strategy for protected forests, the program of payments for environmental services, and environmental legislation. However, I believe that we still need to develop equally important conservation strategies and sustainable resource use schemes for the local population.

  13. What impact do you hope to have on conservation in Costa Rica?

  14. I hope to have a positive impact in terms of local governance for biodiversity conservation, and to empower local people to achieve significant changes for conservation.

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Nazaret Bogarín Bermúdez
Credit: Isabel Bogarín

Student name: Nazaret Bogarín Bermúdez
Country of origin: Costa Rica

  1. What inspired you to pursue a career in conservation?

  2. It seemed to be a good complement to my former training, which is as a forest engineer: In order to conserve, you also have to utilize nature in a sustainable, balanced and planned manner.

  3. Why did you choose the Master’s in Conservation Practices and Biodiversity?

  4. It’s the most pressing current topic that needs immediate action. Ecosystems are less and less diverse, which also means fewer benefits for people and in the end a reduction in our quality of life.

  5. What was the single most valuable skill that you learned through this program?

  6. Working with rural communities to achieve greater success in conservation projects. These are people who depend on and directly relate to natural resources, who understand about the best use of resources and the problems associated with losing them.  Uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources is generally caused by people outside of those communities, and often the communities themselves lack other livelihood options.

  7. In your opinion, what is the greatest conservation challenge of our time in your country/region or world-wide?

  8. The [conservation of] forests, because in effect they maintain the equilibrium of other ecosystems. Forests help maintain water sources, regulate climate, maintain soil quality, and they provide opportunities for recreation and research and the majority of ecosystem services for us.

  9. How do you plan to use the skills that you’ve gained through this program to address forest conservation?

  10. The first step is to raise awareness, then to research alternatives to utilize forests sustainably to continue receiving their benefits. An example is to increase the value chain for honey produced by native honey bees from the forest. Also, strengthening community organizations is important so that they are heard and can influence the decisions that will end up affecting them the most.

  11. Costa Rica is considered a country that protects its environment and biodiversity. What are the keys to Costa Rica’s success in this regard?

  12. Having a national system of conservation areas and looking for stable and ongoing public and private funding for the protected areas and communities around them, following the successful models of other countries. In addition, Costa Rica has a national policy of restoration, and promotes activities that depend on nature, including tourism, and also recognizes that the forests are worth more standing than if we were to cut them for wood.

  13. What impact do you hope to have on conservation in Costa Rica?

  14. At the very least to raise awareness about conservation and environmental protection so that activities are successful and you can measure the impact of them over time.

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Adolfo Artavia Rodríguez
Credit: Karla Aguilar

Student name: Adolfo Artavia Rodríguez
Country of origin: Costa Rica

  1. What inspired you to pursue a career in conservation?

  2. I’ve always liked the topic of biodiversity conservation but about five years ago, it became clearer why to pursue it. The mere fact that any organism in nature (animal or plant) has the right to exist and to have the conditions to do so, is sufficient to ensure its conservation. However, nothing in nature is isolated and there is a great web that connects us and people have a fundamental role (both good and bad) in it. It was precisely the human factor and how it can positively impact species conservation that inspired me to follow this path. As good as a project is in terms of science, resources, and technology, sooner or later it will fail if it doesn’t also consider social aspects.

  3. Why did you choose the Master’s in Conservation Practices and Biodiversity?

  4. Several years ago, I started dedicating myself to research and conservation projects of felines and their prey in the Osa Peninsula. It’s one of the most spectacular areas of Costa Rica in terms of biodiversity and an area in which villagers don’t yet recognize the value of having such a great number and density of plant and animal species. The announcement of the Master’s program piqued my interest immediately because the name described just what I was doing: biodiversity conservation in a “practical” manner. I decided to apply to polish my skills and knowledge on the subject in order to have more tools to help carry out such projects in the future.

  5. What was the single most valuable skill that you learned through this program?

  6. I don’t think there is any one particular tool that I could say is most valuable. I think that during the entire experience, the program always maintained crosscutting axes in many of the courses and field trips. One thing that I can be sure of is that all of us will consider the ways and livelihoods of people in the projects that we will develop. Similarly, we will ensure an equitable and participatory approach.

  7. In your opinion, what is the greatest conservation challenge of our time in your country/region or world-wide?

  8. One of the greatest challenges is working between different sectors. Even though government, civil society, organizations (public, private and international), businesses, etc. all appear to follow similar objectives, they commonly work in very different ways. The level of commitment is also different and there is a lot of difference in the effectiveness of developing activities.

  9. How do you plan to use the skills that you’ve gained through this program to bring these sectors together?

  10. I think I could improve my mediation and leadership skills to help resolve situations in which there might not be progress because of lack of organization among different sectors.

  11. Costa Rica is considered a country that protects its environment and biodiversity. What are the keys to Costa Rica’s success in this regard?

  12. Costa Rica came to have its "good positioning" in conservation due to the vision of people who acted in key moments of history. Protecting 25% of the country seems like a great achievement; however, there are many things that need to be done in order for this conservation to be effective. The level of education and quality of life of Costa Ricans have influenced this, as people do not want natural resources to deteriorate because of indiscriminate exploitation.

  13. What impact do you hope to have on conservation in Costa Rica?

  14. I would like to participate in processes that effectively combine science and conservation efforts with integrated development of local communities.

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