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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Costa Rica Lawmakers to Examine Disputed Talamanca Plan

The Legislative Environment Commission unanimously approved a motion by Congressman Ariel Robles to launch an investigation into the disputed Coastal Regulatory Plan for the Talamanca canton.

The investigation seeks to examine the methodology, procedures, technical criteria and scientific basis used by the Talamanca Municipality and related entities in drafting the regulatory plan.

Environmental organizations have raised concerns that approving the Talamanca Coastal Regulatory Plan (PRCT) could lead to degradation of the Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge (REGAMA). In recent years, the refuge has already suffered from land sales driven by property developers.

Specifically, activists have denounced the lack of access to technical data needed to properly protect wetland ecosystems. They say urban planning is being done without clear knowledge of the refuge’s boundaries, and tourism promotion could strain water resources despite warnings of scarcity. There are also allegations of influence peddling.

Notably, 60% of the indigenous territory’s community decides municipal election outcomes. Yet the Talamanca Municipality has apparently overlooked civic engagement for this vital region.

The Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge contains many wetlands, which are vital but vulnerable ecosystems relying heavily on sufficient water volume and quality. Infrastructure and human activity can degrade them, as the NGO Comités de Vigilancia de los Recursos Naturales (Covirenas) has highlighted.

Covirenas and Green Bloc organizations have pointed out that Talamanca hosts 2% of global biodiversity, with its reefs, coasts, valleys and mountain ranges.

For years, both the Amistad Caribe Conservation Area (ACLAC-SINAC) and the Municipality have permitted construction in the State Natural Heritage, causing disorder and Refuge degradation.

Despite being a biodiversity gem, figures like Environment Minister Franz Tattenbach, President Rodrigo Chaves, and most Limón province deputies publicly support the PRCT, overlooking environmental implications.

“What is behind this support, who benefits from this project?” questioned Green Bloc and Covirenas.

The legislative investigation will now scrutinize the developmental plan opposed by conservationists aiming to protect the magnificent but threatened Talamanca ecosystems.

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