The Osa Peninsula, home to some of Costa Rica’s rarest and most treasured wildlife, is at risk of losing many of its wonders to human development.
According to a report released last week by Costa Rica’s Environment Tribunal, a growth and construction “boom” in the past three years in the southern peninsula along the Pacific coast has “provoked an overdraft for the environment” and “put constant pressure on the area’s natural resources.”
The report, entitled “Osa, an Endangered Treasure,” cites 60 environmental violations in the peninsula since the tribunal began performing sweeps in the area in 2008. Among the principal cases cited in the report are illegal deforestation, invasion of protected public zones and interference with aquifers and other bodies of water.
Real estate developers and sawmill operators are the main culprits, according to the report. Most of the damage has been concentrated in Osa’s northern sector and along the coastline.
Violations have lead to erosion, threatened water supplies and destroyed land and marine habitats, the tribunal said.
The report attributes the environmental impacts in the Osa to a spike in building permits.
In 2006, the Osa Municipality issued 100 building permits. The following year, the local government issued 406 and the impact on the area’s natural resources soared.
“In general, the Environment Tribunal has been able to confirm the opening of numerous roads inside forested areas, large quantities of nurseries for construction and excavations for real estate lots,” the report stated.
The report called the Osa “an unrivaled haven” for flora and fauna and declared it necessary to “jealously monitor the type of development that goes on in this region of the country.”
The Environment Tribunal is an administrative court under the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry.