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Rio San Juan Biosphere Reserve, Nicaragua

Covering 1,392,900 ha Río San Juan Biosphere Reserve is composed of seven protected areas and other adjacent territories. The biosphere reserve covers an important variety of ecosystems representative of tropical humid forests and wetlands, tidal marsh, coastal lagoons and estuaries which are important shelters for rare or threatened animals and plant genetic resources of the meso-American tropics.

Designation date: 2003


Regional network:  Red de Comités y Reservas de Biosfera de Iberoamérica y el Caribe (IberoMAB) 

Ecosystem-based network:




    Surface : 1,392,900 ha

    • Core area(s): 357,800 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 520,500 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 514,600 ha

    Location: 11°29’0’’ N - 84°21’55’’W

    Administrative Authorities

    Ministerio del Ambiente y los Recursos Naturales
    Km. 121/2 Carreterra Norte, Frente a corporacion de zonas francas, Apartado postal n°5123

    Tel.: +54 (221) 429-429-5548


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    Ecological Characteristics

    The Biosphere Reserve is a region where a large number of flora and fauna species are concentrated, including endemic, rare, threatened, endangered species.

    The most emblematic fauna species are the Jaguar (Panthera onca), the Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), the Manatee (Trichechus manatus), the Harpy Eagle (Arpya harpija), the Green Macaw (Ara ambigua), the Sawfish (Pristis perottetti) and the American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). Aquatic fauna, among other species, is represented by freshwater sharks such as the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) and the two sawfish species (Pristis pectinatus and P. peroteti) whose special osmotic adaptation to freshwater conditions is of great interest to scientists because it is unique worldwide.


    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The core zone of the Rio San Juan Biosphere Reserve is inhabited by approximately 52,112 people who make up the original peoples Ramas and Krioles. The buffer zone is inhabited by mestizo families with a population of 208,449, totaling approximately 260,561 for the entire reserve (2005 population and housing census).

    The native peoples are an important factor for the conservation of the cultural patrimony of the zone as they are the archaeological and anthropological vestiges left by the tribes of Ramas, Guatuzos, Suerres, Melchoras, Botos, Guetares and Talamancas, all original of the chibcha culture.

    They have played a fundamental role in the care and protection of the natural resources of the Reserve, which has allowed human intervention in these ecological systems to be low due to the fact that they base their economy on subsistence agriculture, breeding of domestic animals, hunting, fishing, collection and sale of surpluses of some of their products.  Family income is complemented by the sale of basic grains. 



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    Last updated: June 2019