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HomeTopicsEnvironment and WildlifeCosta Rica's President's Controversial Statement on Gandoca Manzanillo Refuge Development

Costa Rica’s President’s Controversial Statement on Gandoca Manzanillo Refuge Development

President Rodrigo Chaves addressed the environmental complaint about the illegal logging of trees in the Gandoca Manzanillo Refuge. “We have to keep an eye on this because it is very controversial. There are people who think that they will file an injunction or an unconstitutionality appeal for anything that seems like development in that area. We are not going to destroy the national treasure on the southern coast of the Limón province, but we are not going to leave it to the fauna either,” he said.

The President stated that he seeks a balance so that people can also take advantage of natural resources and enhance development. “That is where the wisdom of governing lies; it is the right balance. There are extremists who say that we have to go and build huge 5-star hotels, and that will not happen. But there are also others who say that we have to leave it to the monkeys, and no sir, it is not like that either,” said Chaves.

The Issue

A group of neighbors of the Gandoca Manzanillo Refuge had previously denounced the destruction and contamination of the protected area, specifically a series of illegal constructions on Punta Uva Beach, which is part of the nature reserve. The events apparently took place in the days leading up to Christmas, according to local residents.

Witnesses affirm that trees were cut down on the paradisiacal beach, a wetland was drained, and cement pillars began to be placed because during holidays authorities are less vigilant.

Apparently, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) responded to the complaints, but no further action was taken. MINAE concluded that the activity corresponded to a change in the sewers and omitted the evident alterations on the wetland area.

The Minister of Environment and Energy, Franz Tattenbach, stated that the land is for agricultural use, without forest, and that it is outside the Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge.

However, Tattenbach did not mention that the land is part of an area of 188 hectares of forested area, which was previously disaffected. The Constitutional Court ordered the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) to demarcate it again as part of the refuge.

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