Chamber unanimously approves project that designates Mar Chiquita as a natural reserve

The House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that designates Mar Chiquitain Manati, like a natural reserve, At the same time, it establishes public policies that recognize the validity of the administrative procedures that were carried out in the past – but that were put at risk – in search of protecting the area.

House Bill 1823, authored by legislators Gabriel Rodriguez Aguilo and Edgardo Feliciano, It was submitted on August 21 and, less than a month later, it was approved by vote and without the objection of any representative. The measure will now go before the Senate for consideration.

The piece of legislation, which aims to protect an area made up of cliffs, dunes, strips of forest, mangroves and more than 60 families of flora – where critical and endangered species live -, It also orders the Planning Board to carry out an expeditious process to materialize the designation.

“In the Mar Chiquita Natural Reserve, the need to protect the lands and waters that provide important services and functions to the ecosystem from the impacts of climate change has been identified, as well as to mitigate, restore and improve natural resources and environmentally sensitive areas, to through appropriate development and reconstruction activities,” reads the statement of reasons for the measure.

In addition, it establishes as a regulation that the Planning Board will fulfill its responsibility to review, update and adopt land use plans, sectoral plans, regulations and standards based on the provisions of laws 75 of 1975 (Organic Law of the Planning Board) and 550 of 2004 (Law for the Land Use Plan).

The agency will have a period of no more than 60 days, from the effective date of the regulations, to comply with the provisions.

In recent years, there have been two attempts to modify the boundaries of Mar Chiquita. So, environmental activists and organizations warned about the risks of both proposals.

In 2018, the nature reserve of Mar Chiquita was one of the seven that former governor Ricardo Rossello Nevares eliminated through executive orders. The determination was reversed, in November 2019, by the Supreme Court.

That same year, the Legislative Assembly, dominated by the New Progressive Party (NPP), approved a bill to create the “Manati Coastal Corridor” and delimit part of the land for a sustainable tourism area, with the purpose of developing eco-lodges, agro-lodges and camping areas.

After opposition from several environmental groups, the measure – which had been approved without public hearings – was stopped until the new proposal was presented.

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