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NICARAGUAN CANAL AN "ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER"

02/24/2014

Scientists fear that a plan to cut a canal across Nicaragua could cause serious damage to the environment. Last June, the Nicaraguan government signed a bill that would allow Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company (HKND) to build a canal linking the Pacific to the Atlantic. According to the Nicaraguan government, the canal would have significant economic benefits, potentially tripling economic growth while it is being built. Scientists Axel Meyer and Jorge A. Huege-Pérez, however, warn that the canal could cause an “environmental disaster.” They fear the damage the canal could do to surrounding ecosystems—including the neighboring Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, a 2,000,000 hectare tropical forest that is home to many threatened species—and express concern about harm to Lake Nicaragua. The favored canal path would bisect the lake, causing an inflow of saltwater. The canal would also likely cut through the Cerro Silva Natural Reserve, home to the oldest oak trees in Central America and the endangered quetzal. No independent environmental assessment of the canal’s impacts has been conducted, as the Nicaraguan government plans to rely on an assessment carried out by HKND. For the full story, see http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0220-nicaragua-canal-disaster.html and http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/nicaragua-plans-bisect-country-massive-canal-180949838/.