San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

For Costa Rican voters, environment matters

Eight out of 10 Costa Ricans think that the government should spend more money on the country´s natural environment, according to a poll by CID-Gallup and The Nature Conservancy released on Thursday.

The areas that survey participants considered most important were air and water improvements, increased controls of flora and fauna, and protection of rich ecological zones.

More than 80 percent said these three areas were their highest priorities.

Of those who said they would vote in the upcoming February elections, 85 percent said that each candidate´s environmental platform would be an important part in their decision, the survey found.

In more specific terms, 80 percent of interviewees considered presidential candidate positions about development in the maritime zone very important, 77 percent said it is very important for the candidates to clearly define their position about oil exploration and 72 percent want to know each presidential aspirant´s point of view about the open pit gold mine in Crucitas, near the Nicaraguan border with Costa Rica.

Nine out of 10 respondents are opposed to the open pit gold mine and 77 percent are against oil exploration.

The survey also asked what each participant felt were the urgent problems facing Costa Rica´s natural environment that require immediate attention. Of those who responded to the question, 27 percent considered trash the most pressing problem, 17 percent said aquifer and river contamination is serious and 15 percent believe the biggest immediate threat is air pollution.

When asked if they were willing to pay more for water and electricity bills and make economic sacrifices to protect the environment by contributing to environmental education, stricter air and water quality restrictions and guarding against excessive development in ecologically delicate areas, six out of 10 participants said yes.

The analysis also revealed that 36 percent of respondents participated in recycling projects during 2009. That´s up from 6 percent in 2005.

The poll surveyed 1008 adult Costa Ricans, selected by random sample, between Nov 9 and Nov 24 in all areas of the country. Interviews were conducted in person at each participant´s home.

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