San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

For Costa Ricans, Environment Matters

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

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

More than 80 percent of the respondents named these three areas as 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 said they consider 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 said they want to know each presidential aspirant’s point of view about the open-pit gold mine in Las Crucitas, near the Nicaraguan border with Costa Rica.

Nine of 10 respondents said they oppose the open-pit gold mine and 77 percent said they are against oil exploration.

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

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

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 1,008 adult Costa Ricans, randomly selected, between Nov. 9 and 24 in all areas of the country. Interviews were conducted in person ateach participant’s home.

–Mike McDonald

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