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HomeTopicsEnvironment and WildlifeLogging Threatens Costa Rica's Caribbean Wildlife Refuge

Logging Threatens Costa Rica’s Caribbean Wildlife Refuge

Residents of the southern Caribbean denounced the logging of trees in the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge. They reported that the activity commenced on April 20, and trees were cut on a property 150 meters west of the Colibri Lodge, on the road from Manzanillo to Puerto Viejo. The trucks with the logs began to leave in the early morning of May 9.

Five years ago, the Constitutional Court ordered the National System of Conservation Areas  (SINAC) to define 188 hectares of forest area within the refuge, which has not yet been done.

Marta Castro, president of the Natural Resources Oversight Committees (CORIVENAS) of the Southern Caribbean, expressed her concern and denounced SINAC’s inactivity.

“That land is within the 188 hectares that SINAC has to demarcate. Five years have passed in which SINAC has destroyed, bled, and given permits within the refuge and have not demarcated those 188 hectares,” she said.

SINAC granted a logging permit for species such as pilon, panama, gavilan, jobo, sura, guacimo colorado, indio desnudo, sangrillo, guacimo, and javillo. This is a coastal forest within a protected area, and the species are indicative of a wetland zone.

Following complaints from environmental groups, SINAC mentioned that “it is important to emphasize that the logging has been carried out in accordance with the Law and its regulations.”

“The logging projects comply with all the requirements established in the regulations, specifically Decree 38863-MINAE and Forestry Law 7575, which was corroborated prior to the authorization of the logging permits, by means of an office review and a field visit,” SINAC stated. They also mentioned three monitoring visits have been made to the farm where the activity is taking place, to ensure everything is being done correctly.

In addition to the destruction of the ecosystem located in the maritime-terrestrial zone, the impact on the corals is of concern. Ana María Arenas, from the Coral Commission of the Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar Community Diving Center, explained the importance of preserving this forest.

“It is essential to conserve that part of the refuge because the corals depend a lot on the biodiversity in the maritime-terrestrial zone and this balance is being broken,” she noted.

Arenas pointed out that the wetland and forested area protect the corals from sedimentation and sewage, and it is already noticeable that the lack of planning is causing sewage from new construction from Cocles to Manzanillo to flow directly into the sea.

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