Pineapple expansion conquers Terraba Sierpe wetland in Osa

    Pineapple Expansion in Costa Rica

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    Abelardo Canelo
    I am not only a fluent Spanish-English reader/speaker but also a bi-cultural person who has a broad solid background. I also have a passionate interest in different expressions of music, especially many American styles and their combinations (Folk-Country, Jazz, Pop, Rhythm and Blues, Rock, Soul, and so on), dance, stage and screen, and some other forms of artistic expression.

    494 hectares of a new pineapple plantation in Palmar Sur are adjacent to the main archaeological sphere site.

    Without performing a field visit, SETENA gave a green light.

    There is an ongoing pineapple expansion fueled by new markets like China.

    Osa is the new territory that is now under conquest by the pineapple monoculture expansion, which has been described as out of control by ecologists, academics, and communities that are directly affected.

    Pineapple expansion has been rendered as out of control by ecologists, academics, and affected communities. There is a new go-to region, and it´s Osa. The touristic entrance to the  Térraba- Sierpe National Wetland will now be surrounded by pineapple desert. There are archeological sites in the middle of the land that will become a huge pineapple field, which is less than 2kms away from the main site and touristic attraction: the Sphere Museum. All the agrochemical and other social and environmental impacts associated with this agro-industry will end up affecting these important sites.

    In less than a month, and without conducting a single field trip, SETENA approved in record time the environmental viability in December 2016, for the monoculture that will be developed by Del Monte Agro Development Corporation SA

    (see link).

    According to the resolution, the project will be allowed to perform a change of culture in a total area of 600,2 hectares. From the total of land, 84,2% is now agroforestry culture (melina plantations), forest (11,8% total) and wetlands (3,9). Because of its closeness to the Terraba Sierpe Wetland, which is of world importance, this pineapple project has three areas if wetland, with a total of 23,4 hectares. SETENA has left it to the corporation to comply with its recommendation that “the wetland areas that are in the land should be taken into account in the plantation design in order t protect such ecosystems”

    The list of archaeological sites that are listed as required to be evaluated in an archaeological assessment and signaling is quite long: Palmar Sur-3, in a 10 ha. area,  architectonic evaluation in the  Palmar Sur-6 site, in a 15 ha. Area.  Also, an archaeological assessment is required at the sites of La Morada-1, La Morada-2 y Casa Cabúa, El Pantanoso, Túmulo, La Estancia and la Loma.

    Despite the evidence of an important archeological patrimony, which could be affected, the SETENA has left it in the hands of the corporation to “hire a professional in the archaeological discipline in order to supervise the  land movement, and SETENA assures that even if some archaeological findings have taken place “these will treat in a preventive way, to make sure that they don´t get affected”.

    Mauricio Álvarez, President of FECON, commented that “There is an obvious need to develop more studies to determine the archaeological impact, SETENA has given the environmental viability to this project, without further assessments, creating an unprotected scenario for the cultural patrimony of every Costa Rican.”

    In  the channel 13 SINART morning news show, RTN REVISTA, Mauricio also said that “new markets like China have opened up for Costa Rican pineapple, and it is such a huge market that this could dismantle protected areas, wetlands, and archaeological sites, and could be the tipping point into a national crisis because of an out of control expansion of the fruit monocultures. At this point, the national map has shown that more than 1% of national territory has become pineapple land. This already causes ecological and social imbalances and conflicts. If the market opens up to China, it can potentially be devastating. And this new development on Osa shows that clearly”.

    SETENA´s recommendations are not enough. In reference to social aspects, there is no account of land conflicts that exist in two neighboring properties, that are in dispute by peasants and banana plantation owners, like Chánguina and Térraba (QPO has reported on the Chánguina conflict). There has been no social impact assessment and no talks at all with surrounding communities. This is why environmental organizations are stepping up to inform and communicate with these potentially impacted communities, and peasant organizations too.

    The National Front of Sectors Affected by Pineapple Expansion- FRENASAP, and the Costa Rican Ecologist Federation- FECON have been doing a detailed analysis of the project documents, and coordinating with social stakeholders, to activate social organization in the area and at a national ant international level, and to continue to denounce and demand a national moratorium on pineapple expansion, which is actually an unfulfilled  promise done by the current President Solís, during his campaign for the past elections.

    “Pineapple expansion has been out of control, but this new environmental viability given by SETENA has become the tipping point. We have to demand a moratorium before the china market takes over our wetlands and protected area. Osa needs to organize and achieve this demand”, said Henry Picado,  spokesperson for FRENASAP.

    This next Monday may 15th there will be a Raleigh at the National Museum, to start informing the archaeological institutions, in charge of preserving the national patrimony, the general public and the  Congress about the need to stop the pineapple expansion.

    Que Pasa Osa and The Costa Rica News will be reporting on the results of the event.

    Written by Alicia Casas

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