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Costa Rica’s Environment Ministry puts halt to pineapple farm that could have damanged Térraba-Sierpe National Wetlands

Costa Rica’s Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE) has suspended for environmental reasons a project that opponents argued could have permanently damaged the Térraba-Sierpe National Wetlands in the country’s Southern Zone.

President Carlos Alvarado applauded the decision in a Friday press conference, and also on social media.

“I welcome the decision of MINAE to suspend the environmental viability of a project for pineapple cultivation near the Térraba-Sierpe National Wetlands,” Alvarado said. “This reaffirms our commitment to the environment, to Protected Wildlife Areas and to the protection of archaeological heritage.”

The project, presented by the Corporación Agrícola del Monte SA-Pindeco, would have established a 500-hectare pineapple farm near Palmar Sur.

Agrochemicals from the farm could have flowed into the wetlands, environmentalists said, and the development also would have posed a risk to four archaeological sites — Finca 6, Batambal, Grijalba and El Silencio — which have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Environmental organizations noted the farm in question would have been located “less than five kilometers from the core of the Térraba-Sierpe Wetlands,” and that previous studies had proven agrochemicals are already contaminating the protected wetlands.

The Costa Rican Federation for the Conservation of the Environment (FECON) was one of the primary opponents to the pineapple farm and since 2017 has been appealing the permits granted for the farm by the National Technical Secretariat of the Environment Ministry (SETENA).

FECON argued that “the environmental license [was] plagued with inconsistencies and wrong data that merit declaring its absolute nullity.” Among the errors, FECON said, is that the Pindeco property itself contained nearly 100 hectares of wetlands and 64 hectares of protected forest.

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