Piles of support for Leatherback National Park

The Costa Rican Legislative Assembly has received 6 binders (each 3 inches thick) full of letters, signatures and technical reports all opposing the bill (17.383) to downgrade Leatherback National Park to national wildlife refuge status and allow coastal development along the leatherback sea turtle’s most important nesting beaches in the Eastern Pacific.  This landslide of national and international support is highlighted by the following letter from Dr. Peter C.H. Pritchard, founder of the Chelonian Research Foundation and one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet,” because of his life-long dedication to natural resource conservation efforts.

A leatherback sea turtle

A leatherback sea turtle

Please read Dr. Pritchards letter to Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly and keep in mind that it is but one of thousands that urge this country’s legislators not to capitulate to the endeavors of private development interests and to continue to demonstrate that Costa Rica is different from its peers in its resolve to pioneer new ways to more effectively manage its biodiversity and natural resources.

Sra. Hannia Durán

Comisión Permanente de Ambiente
Asamblea Legislativa

San José, Costa Rica
Estimada señora Durán:

I would like to add a brief commentary upon the current negotiations and proposals regarding the Parque Nacional las Baulas.  My point is very simple: National Parks are very difficult to establish.  They take time, money, education and involvement of local people, sustained dedication on the part of the proponents, and sustained vision on the part of agencies of government and elected officials.  They also mandate ecological research and investigation, land survey, economic projections, and much more.  Consequently, when all of this has come together and a National Park has been declared and established, there is an essential rule:

                          A NATIONAL PARK SHOULD NEVER, EVER, EVER

                               BE DISSOLVED OR ITS STATUS LOWERED

It can be physically extended, or the degree of protection it offers can be enhanced, and disturbed or damaged wetlands and other key ecosystems can be restored, but one should never take a backward step.  A national park should never be compromised.

The whole process of setting aside some of the unique ecosystems of the world in perpetuity by application of the national park option will collapse if all of the coordinated work, by many parties, that initiates a national park turns out to be reversible.  The visionaries will just give up if that happens.  Human population growth, industrial growth, and land development are not bad things in themselves, but they quickly become bad things if they are allowed to bring about ruin or obliteration to natural areas that a previous generation promised to protect. 

 Believe me, the pressures on the surviving natural areas will become ever worse as populations increase; “temporary” national parks will collapse like a house of cards if vigilance is lowered even briefly.  We must be ready to defend the National Park System of Costa Rica against all such pressures.  Parque Las Baulas is for ever.  Our descendents will not forgive us for letting it go.

Peter C.H. Pritchard
Founder and Director
Chelonian Research Institute

For more information about leatherback sea turtles, try these blog posts:

Fishermen Saving Leatherback Sea Turtles

Leatherback Sea Turtle Online Magazine

20 Years of Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Work Down the Drain?

Chaos in Costa Rica’s Leatherback National Park

3 Responses to “Piles of support for Leatherback National Park”
  1. steven says:

    I really do thank god that there are people like you out there that are will to stand up and fight for nature and to stick to the political parties.If it was not for people like you all of the national parkes and wilde life area’s around the world would have been developed by now and destroyed keep up the good work.

    • Andy Bystrom says:

      Thanks Steven. If you’re ever in Costa Rica, please stop by the office. Pass the word that the good fight is “on”, and it’s all of our responsibility to participate.


  2. Dear Mr. Pritchard,
    Thank you for your good work!
    I am a naturalist and guide from Trinidad & Tobago (my website address is included here) and I am considering writing an article about Leatherback Turtles. Although I do have images several images of females on beaches and nesting, I do not have underwater images. I love the image of the swimming Leatherback you have here on this site. May I have your permission to use it for my article?
    email :birding.geoffrey@gmail.com

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