Push for Playa Rey Proposal in Manuel Antonio National Park by Community Leaders
A proposal to assign additional funding to Playa Rey from Manuel Antonio National Park revenue was presented to the Costa Rican government by local community leaders on Friday the 30th of July.
Manuel Antonio National Park received more than 275,000 visitors in 2009, making it the most popular national park in Costa Rica. A green light for the Playa Rey beach proposal is seen as a positive move by many environmental experts, who are keen to encourage sustainable tourism in the Manuel Antonio area and tackle the parks tourist visitation density through the application of ecosystem management design.
Concerns for the protection of the area’s biodiversity, lax security in relation to international drug trafficking and the illegal use of protected land were highlighted as the principal reasons to push forward the proposal.
Playa Rey was incorporated into Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park in 2001, adding an additional 14 kilometers of beautiful beach to the country’s most visited national park. With this addition, the Manuel Antonio National Park extension increased from 500 hectares to over 1900 hectares. However, since the inclusion of the beach Playa Rey, little has been done to maintain road access and a lack of security in the area has resulted in parcels of protected land being used by squatters. Inclusively, the unpatrolled waters off the coast of Playa Rey and the beach itself are areas which have been left open for drug traffickers to exploit.
In a meeting held in Quepos, by the Junta Directiva of the Beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park, the Environment Commission of the Chamber of Commerce of Aguirre outlined a proposal for a sustainable development plan for Manuel Antonio National Park, based on an original study completed in 2005. The proposal was presented to Ana Lorena Guevara Fernández, the Vice Minister of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications.
The proposal seeks to bring Play Rey out of its current state of abandonment and begin work to open up the main access points for visiting tourists. The Environmental Commission believes that the Sustainable Development Plan will create an extra revenue source through tourism and ensure a better protected eco system.
As Milo Bekins Faries, Chairperson of the International Analog Forestry Network explains, “As an original ecosystem, Playa Rey; and its associated species of trees account for only 1% of the biodiversity of this bioregion. However, 75% of all the fish, crabs, turtles, and shrimp live at least one phase of their life there. In the Canton of Aguirre, originally, there were over 1800 hectares of mangroves, today this has been reduced to about 400 due to the pressure of Man. Given that in 2001 Playa Rey was declared part of Manuel Antonio National Park, this helps in a small way to preserve this important ecosystem.”
Pending approval of the proposal, the Junta Directiva intends to begin work in collaboration with MINAET and ACOPAC in the coming months. Proposed works for the beach of Playa Rey include the installation of public washrooms and government installations for police, coast guards and personnel. A campsite and a secure parking area are included in the plan to increase tourism to this part of the Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica. Additional installations for volunteer programs and biological investigation are also proposed to promote the study of the large variety of Costa Rican wildlife in the area including three species of sea turtles.
Playa Rey is located just 4km away from the new complete Costanera highway in Manuel Antonio, 30 kilometers from Playa Dominical and 70 km from Playa Jaco. Access roads to Playa Rey and signposts are also included in the project.