The Costa Rican government has directed the protection of beachfront land in the province of Gunacaste, which holds nesting sites of critically endangered leatherback sea turtles, now numbering below 100.
President Oscar Arias has signed legislation and asked the Ministry of Environment and Energy to begin administrative procedures to protect about 30 hectares of land that falls within Las Baulas National Marine Park in Guanacaste. The park, along the Pacific Ocean, has the two most important nesting sites for the leatherback sea turtles. Conservationists say a strip of land 125 metres inland of the high-tide line particularly needs to be protected. Though the park was declared a protected area in 1995, human activities particularly tourism and fishing continue in the area. "The move will help us to restore the population of leatherback turtles," said Todd Steiner of the San Francisco-based Turtle Island Restoration Network. About 95 per cent of leatherbacks have vanished in the last 20 years.
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