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Gov’t Agencies Sued Over Damage to Palo Verde

May 2, 2008

The Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE) is suing two Production Ministry agencies for environmental damage to Palo Verde National Park.

The Tempisque Conservation Area, the MINAE office that oversees Palo Verde, has the damage at more than $6 million.

The Agricultural Development Institute (IDA) and the National Subterranean Water and Irrigation Service (SENARA), both part of the Production Ministry, are being sued in MINAE’s Environment Tribunal.

According to a statement from the court, 2,270 hectares (about 5,600 acres) of the national park were eventually flooded as a result of irrigation canals and other infrastructure built by SENARA for sugarcane and rice crops on adjacent IDA property.

The affected area began small, said a statement from the tribunal, but eventually spread to cover various areas of the park, affecting its biodiversity and various ecosystems. Palo Verde is considered a wetland of international importance.

In addition, IDA is accused of destroying wetlands in the protected “buffer zone” surrounding the park and “considerably modifying” the biological balance of the TempisqueRiver basin, which feeds the park, by diverting water from the basin for irrigation and flood control.

The flooding caused native plants to be replaced by other species, and carried chemicals from the agricultural crops, according to the accusation.

 

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