Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Costa Rica closes three hotels for environmental damage

Playa Negra(ACAN-EFE) - Costa Rican environmental authorities have closed three hotels in a Caribbean wildlife preserve in this Central American country for causing environmental damage, officials said.

During a surveillance and inspection operation, local authorities decided to close a recently built hotel Thursday, since it was constructed on the wetlands of Playa Negra, 185 kilometers (115 miles) southeast of San Jose, and also closed the extensions of two other already existing hotels.

Officials at the Environment and Energy Ministry told Costa Rican press Friday that among the irregularities detected in the first case was the construction of a three-kilometer (two-mile) road across a land-sea zone that, according to the law, must remain in its natural state.

Construction works to enlarge another of the hotels were stopped when it was found that a large quantity of trees had been cut down for use in the building project.

Hotel Almendros y Corales (Almond Trees and Corals), with four "leaves" of Costa Rica's five-leaf sustainable tourism certification, has been implicated.

"We're going before the environmental tribunal to find a solution. The complete project measures 2,400 square meters (25,800 square feet) and we have worked 20 years for the conservation of the preserve. If we've done anything wrong, I take full responsibility and will offer a corrective plan," Aurora Game, spokeswoman for Almendros y Corales told the daily La Republica.

Jose Lino Chaves, president of the Environmental Administrative Tribunal – an agency of the Environment and Energy Ministry – warned of the impact that home and hotel construction is having on the preserve, located in the southern Caribbean region of the country, and said that the surveillance will continue.

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