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Controversial Airport Planned in Costa Rican Biodiversity Hotspot

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Assistant Editor’s Note: Information and excerpts from The New York Times Green Blog by Dylan Walsh

Citing jog creation and poverty reduction, the Costa Rican government has labeled a proposed airport construction project as one of ‘national importance,’ despite objections from the Natural Resources Defense Council that it will negatively impact the Térraba-Sierpe Wetland, an internationally recognized site valued near $2 billion, as well as neighborning  enclave of small, high value eco-lodges, all just three miles away. Local inhabitants facing eviction are also protesting.

Critics of the project point to a similar development in the Guanacaste Province which has had little economic benefit and a host of environmental issues arising post construction.

Guanacaste expanded its local airport to an international terminal in 2002. Studies of the area have tied this expansion to social instability from a rapid influx of international real estate investment and an overgrown luxury resort industry. Many of the new jobs created — an oft-cited benefit of development — have gone to people from outside the region. Additionally, the cost of living in Guanacaste has risen, while wages for many have not kept pace.

Opening a major airport in the Osa Peninsula “with few rules, limited government resources and little planning or control could readily lead to the same negative effects seen in Guanacaste,” argues a recent report by the Center for Responsible Travel, a nonprofit research institution with offices in Washington and at Stanford University.

The area in question, the Osa Peninsula on the Pacific Coast, is home to 3 percent of the world’s known biodiversity.

For more details on the project, read the entire blog post, Controversial Airport Is Planned for Costa Rica




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