San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Environment Celebrated with Art, Festivities

BETWEEN World Environment Day,World Oceans Day, National Tree Day,celebrations, awards and criticisms, CostaRica’s environmental agenda is packedthis month.Organizations and institutions throughoutthe country celebrated WorldEnvironment Day Sunday and WorldOceans Day Wednesday with tree planting,coastal cleanup efforts and other activities.With the goal of improving conservationand recreation, First Lady LeilaRodríguez led a cleanup of La SabanaMetropolitan Park Sunday in west SanJosé, inaugurating three new playgrounds,distributing 21 trash receptacles andinstalling 20 benches while school childrenplanted trees.ALSO in recognition of WorldEnvironment Day, INBioparque last weekcelebrated the opening of a new exhibition,Treasures of the Mangroves, whereinformation about these unique ecosystemsis offered through multimedia presentations.Festivities continued Monday with atwo-day environmental fair hosted byUniversidad Nacional (UNA) in Heredia,north of San José. “Expoambiente: UNANatural Armonía,” at UNA’s school ofEnvironmental Sciences included 30 exhibitionstands, conferences, roundtable discussions,environmental workshops andcultural activities, according to a statementfrom the university.The main objective of the fair was to“promote sustainable and environmentallyfriendly practices,” said the statement.ON Wednesday, World Oceans Day,Environment Minister Carlos ManuelRodríguez received the first-ever GlobalOcean Conservation Award at a ceremonyin Washington, D.C., from six organizationsthat promote marine conservation.Conservation International, The WorldConservation Union, the MarineConservation Biology Institute, theNatural Resources Defense Council,Ocean Revolution and the World WildlifeFund commended Rodríguez, 45, for hiswork on the global conservation agenda in2004, according to a statement fromConservation International.In 2004, the minister expanded LasBaulas Marine National Park in the northwesternprovince of Guanacaste and promotedsigning the San José Declaration, anagreement between Costa Rica, Colombia,Panama and Ecuador for the multinationalconservation of the Eastern Tropical PacificSeascape (ETPS), a mega marine corridorthat includes two World Heritage Sites – theGalapagos Archipelago in Ecuador andCosta Rica’s Isla del Coco National Park, aremote Pacific island located a 30-hour boatride from the mainland.“COSTA Rica, via the leadership ofCarlos Manuel Rodríguez, has shownunparalleled leadership as an ocean steward,not only within Latin America, but forthe world,” said Sylvia A. Earle, executivedirector of Conservation International’sGlobal Marine Division.The Costa Rican Federation forEnvironmental Conservation (FECON),however, issued a statement this weekasking Rodríguez to resign from his positionas minister in honor of WorldEnvironment Day.The letter lists a series of reasons whyRodríguez should quit, including “promotingdeforestation in Costa Rica” and “supportingopen-pit gold mining.”AS part of the ninth annual environmentalfestival “Fertile Mother, OurEarth,” the Cinema Center in downtownSan José held an environmental film andvideo contest this week that will culminatewith an awards ceremony at 7 p.m.tonight.On Sunday, the Museum of CostaRican Art in La Sabana will host the secondWater Mini-Festival featuring theNational Band of San José, traditionaldances, and an electric bus courtesy ofthe National Power and Light Company(CHFL) for children to make rounds in.The festival, scheduled from 9 a.m.-2p.m., will also feature workshops andexhibitions relating to water issues.A tree-planting activity is scheduledfor June 15, National Tree Day, at SanMartín School in the western suburb ofSanta Ana.According to Mónica Siles, a representativeof the private conservationistassociation Terra Nostra, a beach-cleaningactivity is scheduled for June 18 atPlaya Agujas and Playa Tárcoles, in thecentral Pacific province of Puntarenas.For more information, call Terra Nostraat 386-5272.(Tico Times reporter Rebecca Kimitchcontributed to this article.)

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