As some of the most important ecosystems on Earth, forests provide countless benefits to the wildlife that call them home and the overall health of the planet. Yet, recently an alarm was raised regarding the construction of a tourist real estate project located in Manuel Antonio, Quepos, on the road to Playitas Beach, for potential illegal forest exploitation. 

According to The Nature Conservancy, not only are forests home to around 80% of the planet’s land-dwelling species, but they also help to keep the earth’s water clean by naturally filtering out pollution. They also serve as one of the most critical natural ways to absorb and store excess carbon, which can fight climate change. The conservancy reported, “For millennia, trees have pulled carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and turned it into their bark, wood, and leaves through the oldest carbon-capture technology on Earth: photosynthesis.” 

With forests also providing nourishment, jobs, and refuge for countless people, forest exploitation can pose a risk to the safety and health of this very vital ecosystem. While humanity is demanding more space and materials for commodities like raising livestock and building homes, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reported on its website that, “By degrading biodiversity and forests’ economic value, forest exploitation also makes land even more vulnerable to deforestation for other uses.” 

The National System of Conservation Areas states that a biological corridor is a delimited continental, marine-coastal, and insular area whose primary purpose is to act as a bridge between protected wildlife areas and between landscapes, ecosystems, and habitats that ensure the maintenance of biodiversity and ecological and evolutionary processes. Currently, Costa Rica has 44 biological corridors that represent 33% of the continental territory. 

AD 4nXfsuaCtCac1igJpfkMcuixqF2jr4gN1y9JvEsB GaO IoKogRGQ9nMbybKc7D5pDpMmj h 5SlG AD blHZm4ZnQl2Cxr0c6uTuWGrEP4lJHj4gi5aKG6517Hcsn0Qg1tA 5HDEbe 1 1z0BZRABOFHP4I?key=iWCIFsq6R0RFsNrJz4rMvQ

Suspected of illegal forest exploitation, the Environmental Prosecutor’s Office halted the construction of a luxury tourist project in Manuel Antonio that was being built in a forest area within the Aguirre Biological Corridor. This is very close to the iconic Manuel Antonio Park. The park is known as a home to breathtaking flora and fauna life, as well as one of the most amazing beaches on the map. 

The development was a residential project, Islas de Manuel Antonio, that would have consisted of an apartment tower, a restaurant, and a beach club, with the tower including 16 floors. 

Officials believe the alleged illegal change of land use has materialized through illegal logging of the forest cover. The Prosecutor’s Office noted there is existing evidence that supports the development site is forest land and a part of the Aguirre Biological Corridor, leading to the Public Prosecutor’s Office investigating the alleged crimes of ideological falsehood, prevarication, change of land use, violation of the Forestry Law, and violation of the Water Law. The Prosecutor’s Office has also indicated three individuals are currently under investigation for the alleged invasion of the protected area and are linked to the crimes. 

Islas Manuel Antonio was quick to appeal the injunction and refute the Prosecutor’s Office’s claims. Yet, the Prosecutor’s Office remains firm, insisting the injunction remain in place for at least four months.