San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Academics sound alarm over Southern Zone development

As Costa Rica land developers push further up the sides of mountains overlooking the southern Pacific coast, environmentalists and area residents have been warning for nearly two years that the construction is putting the ocean, the protected natural areas and the communities below at risk.

The latest to join the cry is the University of Costa Rica (UCR), whose highest body, the University Council, issued a resolution calling the development boom along the Pacific coast “one of the most worrying environmental catastrophes our country has experienced in recent years.”

The Fila Costeña mountain range drains half a dozen rivers into the ocean, feeding the towns below and flowing directly into the Ballena National Marine Park and the Sierpe-Térraba National Wetlands, a delicate ecosystem that includes the largest mangrove forest in the country.

Researchers have warned that sediment from the rivers is killing the corals in Ballena and harming the Sierpe-Térraba National Wetlands.

The university is calling on local governments, as well as President Oscar Arias´ administration, to crack down in the region.

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