Urgent Press Release to Make Country Aware of Leatherback Bill
Urgent Press Release to Make Country Aware of Leatherback Bill (exp. 17383)
The bill titled “Law to rectify the Leatherback Marine National Park’s Boundaries and Creation of Guanacaste’s Leatherback National Wildlife Refuge”(Exp. 17383) signed by Costa Rica’s president and environmental minister on May 5, 2009 and presented by the Presidential Ministry to the Legislative Assembly’s Secretary Director on May 21, 2009, contains a series of egregious unconstitutionalities pertaining to article 50 of Costa Rica’s Constitution that guarantees every citizen the right to a healthy and ecologically sound environment. All of these can be resumed in the following points:
1.- It reduces the size of Leatherback Marine National Park, created by executive decree in 1991 and later by law in 1995, and excludes all land outside of the public zone without prior technical studies to justify the change in zoning as required by article 38 on the Environmental Organic Law.
2.- The proposal is not backed by any type of technical study regarding the environmental conditions present to the area specifically regarding the buffer zone, nor the environmental carrying capacity of the park, but at the same time it proposes to override previously establish technical criteria sucha as the “Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Marine Turtles” study that specifically pertains to the parks management.
3.- It compromises the reason Guanacaste’s Leatherback Marine National Park was established: for the protection of the leatherback sea turtle and the conservation of its habitat and nesting areas, by excluding to adhere to the aforementioned study and by decreasing its size (point 1) (articles 5 y 7), through which the level of protection is diminished to an unsatisfactory degree for the intended purpose of the park.
4.- It compromises the collective interest in favor of personal interests: The bill prioritizes the private interest’s of property owners whose lands are actually inside the parks boundaries over what the Constitutional Court called “interests of a higher value” referring to the public’s general interest pertaining to environmental protection, not only by excluding all privately held lands from the park and preventing that the State acquire them as mandated in the Expropriations Law, but also it allows property owners to unconstitutionally – according to the Constitutional Court’s ruling on December 16, 2008 – develop said lands.
5.- It proposes to create the Guanacaste Leatherback National Wildlife Refuge on lands that the same bill excludes from the Leatherback Marine National Park (article 2), in order to minimize the impacts that these privately held lands have on the park, without any justification or other technical study that explains why it is necessary to remove these lands in the first place – as the originally reason for including then in the park was to lessen these very impacts.
6.- The bill calls for the need to strictly protect these lands, without any technical study, while at the same time excluding them from the current protection they enjoy inside the national park, as is the case with the hillside El Morro situated outside the 100 meter maritime zone (articles 1 y 2).
7.- It does not abide by any precautionary measures with regard to the environment and the Constitutional Court’s ruling on December 16, 2008
8.- It gives administrative powers to individuals, by creating, “an association consisting exclusively of the refuge’s property owners” (article 9), giving them the authority to make decisions normally reserved for public administrators.
9.- It excludes the possibility for future protection of these privately held lands inside the refuge’s boundaries,
10.-It orders a change in the type of land use permitted by law without incorporation of the variable mandated by the Constitutional Court on February 6, 2002, based solely on entertaining the conveniences of property owners and their own interests.
11.-It established only urban development uses inside the refuge, “single family of multifamily housing, in individual houses or condominiums, tourism constructions, recreational constructions, ecotourism, public and private infrastructure” (article 11), contradicting the reasons for the establishment of national wildlife refuges to protect the flora and fauna found therein according to article 82 of the Wildlife Conservation Law No. 7317 of October 30, 1992.
12.-It modifies the concept of “coverage” in the Urban Planning Law, allowing 100% of the private lands to be constructed upon.
13.-It does not recognize the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT), under SINAC, as the rightful refuge administrator.
14.-It allows for the unjustified accumulation of coastal property value, since property owners inside the refuge will be exempt from paying real estate taxes.
Dr. Rafael Arce Mesén, Geógrafo, Docente-Investigador, UCR
M.Sc. Mario Arias Salguero, Hidrogeólogo, CIG, UCR
Dr. Allan Astorga, Geólogo, UCR
M.Sc. Javier Baltodano Aragón, Biólogo, Coeco Ceiba
Dr. Nicolas Boeglin, profesor, Facultad de Derecho, UCR
M.Sc. Rolando Castro, Abogado, CEDARENA
Lic. Gabriela Cuadrado, Abogada, CEDARENA
M.Sc. Vanessa Dubois, Gestión Ambiental, FANCA/FUDEU
Dr. Rafael González Ballar, Abogado, Facultad de Derecho, UCR
M.Sc. Raúl Guevara, Abogado
Dr. Gustavo Gutiérrez Espeleta, Biólogo, Escuela Biología, UCR
Dr. Jorge Lobo Segura, Biólogo, Escuela Biología, UCR
M.Sc. Oscar Lucke, Geógrafo, Escuela de Geografía, UCR
Lic. Patricia Madrigal, Abogada, CoopeSolidar
M.Sc. Jorge Mora Portuguez, Abogado, FANCA/FUDEU
Dr. Eduard Muller, Rector, UCI
M.Sc. Mario Peña Chacón, Abogado, Facultad de Derecho, UCR
Dr. Carlos Quesada Mateo, Ingeniero Civil, CCT
Dr. Guillermo Quirós, Oceanógrafo, UNA
M.Sc. Alvaro Sagot Rodríguez, Abogado, UNA
M.Sc. Vivienne Solís Rivera, Bióloga, CoopeSolidar
M.Sc. Luis Carlos Vargas Fallas, especialista en aguas
M.Sc. Luis Villalobos, Médico Salubrista, Investigador, UCR