Solís unveils plan for citizen environmental cops


President displays the new decree.

President displays the new decree.

The central government is creating a plan so that interested citizens can take to the fields, forests and mangroves to enforce environmental laws.

The positions are described as ad honorem, which basically means there is no money involved.

The private inspectors will work under local natural resource protection committees, according to a decree issued Monday in Nicoya by President Luis Guillermo Solís. Casa Presidencial pointed out that the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía has 11 Áreas de Conservación that are supposed to oversee a number of protected areas.

There are 26 national parks, among 160 protected areas. There also are forest reserves, biological reserves, national monuments, mangroves and other protected places.

The maritime zone was not specifically mentioned Monday, but these areas along the coast also would seem to be included in the mandate for private inspectors.

The government promised to outline the selection process for environmental inspectors within six months and to set up a system of training in one year.

Solís presented the plan at a cabinet meeting Monday morning in the community of Nicoya at a celebration of the 192nd anniversary of the Anexión del Partido de Nicoya.

The environmental ministry always has complained of limited resources and the lack of inspectors. The job of citizen inspectors might not be as easy as it first appears. Hunters sometimes fire on the current environmental agents. There also is a lot of money to be gained by cutting trees illegally, and inspectors who stumble on such activities might be in danger.Police officer are the primary control on the movement of illegal lumber.

Meanwhile along the beaches and the protected maritime zone, corruption is rampant in some municipalities where building projects take place that clearly are in violation of the law.

In some areas there are citizens who already have shouldered the responsibility of defending the environmental laws and the environment.

Frequently their complaints are overlooked in favor of commercial ventures.

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