Jaime Incer, Nicaragua

Photo: Jamie Incer

Photograph by Becky Hale

Dr. Jaime Incer is regarded by many as the founder and leading figure of conservation efforts in Nicaragua. Over a distinguished career in academia and government and nongovernmental organizations, Incer has developed curricula and schools in the natural sciences, established national parks and other protected areas, and inspired a new generation of conservationists and life scientists in Nicaragua and throughout Central America.

When Incer completed his education in 1963, there were few scientists and little scientific infrastructure in Nicaragua. As a new member of the faculty at Universidad Nacional Autónoma, he responded to this paucity of scientists by developing a curriculum in ecology and natural history and teaching the first courses to university students. In the 1970s, he founded his country’s first School of Natural Resources at Universidad Centroamericana, where he was dean of the faculty. Incer helped establish Nicaragua’s first national park, Parque Nacional Volcán Masaya, in 1975. Opened to the public in 1979, the park measures 21 square miles and includes the best-preserved dry forest in the country, as well as other habitats on lava flows of different ages. As minister of the environment and natural resources under President Violeta Chamorro from 1990 to 1994, Incer established two biosphere reserves, helped conceptualize and implement the Mesoamerican biological corridor, and worked to set up a network of preserves that now protects about 18 percent of Nicaragua’s territory.

In recent years Dr. Incer has helped found nongovernmental organizations to manage two of Nicaragua’s important protected areas. The Fundación Nicaragüense para la Conservación de la Naturaleza is dedicated to the management and protection of Volcán Mombacho, and the Fundación Nicaragüense para el Desarrollo Sostenible is responsible for Cerro Musún. The management strategies for both reserves have been innovative and remarkably successful and are considered models of sustainable conservation.

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