San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican court annuls building concessions in Osa Peninsula protected areas

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, on Friday ruled against construction concessions granted by the Municipality of Osa in the southern Pacific for new tourism businesses inside protected areas.

The Sala IV ruled in favor of an appeal against the municipality, which had said that forests and wetlands located inside “natural areas of patrimony” were fair game for the projects, part of a new development plan for the canton.

Sala IV justices said that “in the absence of certainty about whether or not activities will cause serious or irreparable damage to an area, the administration must refrain from approving such projects.”

The court suspended all concessions in the area “until there is absolute certainty that the properties are not part of natural patrimonial lands.” 

The case against the Osa Municipality was filed by local conservationist groups, after the municipality approved a construction concession for a private marina in the area.

According to the complaint, several other projects are being planned and built in protected areas in the Osa region.

The Osa Peninsula is one of the richest regions in the world in terms of biodiversity, boasting nearly 2 percent of animal and plant species found around the world.

Contact L. Arias at

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