The Tribunal Administrativo Ambiental reported Thursday that the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Caño Negro and adjacent areas harbor a multitude of environmental problems.
Among other concerns, the Tribunal expressed worry about the growing monoculture of pineapples in the areas near the protected area and said there were invasions of wetlands and waterways. It also expressed concern about possible pollution of drinking water as a result of agricultural chemicals.
The area is in the cantons of Upala, Guatuso and Los Chiles in northern Alajuela province. The tribunal also cited the Los Chiles dump for air pollution and other environmental problems.
Experts from the tribunal, the Área de Conservación Huetar Norte, Fuerza Pública officers, and technicians from two public universities toured the area twice. The report reads like a textbook of environmental damage.
The Tribunal said it found construction within the Caño Negro wetlands as well as logging in protected forest areas.
Inspection also revealed earthworks such as dikes and drainage canals that have an impact on the adjacent wetlands.
There also were evidences that gravel had been extracted from rivers, mainly the Río Frio, and that earth had been moved without steps being take to minimize the damage. This alters the natural flow of water, the Tribunal said.
Inspections also revealed changes in land use and the cutting of primary forests as well as secondary.
The Tribunal expressed many concerns about activities that change the water flow and seepage into the wetlands where many species of birds nest.
The pineapple operations are legal, despite some violations, but the Tribunal has seen many problems elsewhere.
Inspectors even found a bar that has been built partly on refuge land. The owner was cited, the tribunal said.
In all there were 19 cases of environmental problems that came from the inspections. In addition the Tribunal urged that the municipalities take more control and conduct more oversight of the areas.
It also called on a handful of ministries and national institutes to take a lead role in imposing land use planning on the area.