Turtles Wildlife Refuge Threatened

Biologists and environmentalists in Nicaragua have asked for international support to protect one of Nicaragua's (and the world's) most important nesting beach for the olive ridley sea turtle, Playa La Flor National Wildlife Refuge.

Attached is a letter to the President of Nicaragua asking for strong protection for this National Wildlife Refuge, which is now being threatened by a proposed hotel development. We are asking you to sign on to this open letter by returning the following message

"Add my name to letter to President of Nicaragua re: Playa La Flor"

Send to Randall Arauz, Email: and please, cc the message to or to the nicaraguan sustained development network Please include your:

Name:___________________________________ (if PhD, please include)




We also encourage you to send individual letters and institutional letters from organizations you belong to. (Please fax or email copies to me.)

What follows is the exact text of the letter followed by some background information. In a separate file you will find a copy of the resolution issued by the participants of the Regional Worskshop for the Conservation of Sea Turtles, held in Tortuguero Costa Rica, from September 26 to October 1 of 1997.

Thank you for your prompt attention.

Viva La Tortuga!

Randall Arauz, Central American Director, Sea Turtle Restoration Project, EII

Apdo 1203-1100, Tibas, San Jose, COSTA RICA, Phone/fax (506) 236 6017


Letter to President Arnoldo Aleman Concerning Protection of Playa La Flor and Olive Ridley Turtles


Republic of Nicaragua, Casa Presidencial, Managua, Nicaragua

Dear President Aleman:

The Nicaraguan government's protection of Playa La Flor to date has allowed it to remain one of the world's most important nesting sites for olive ridley sea turtles.

The olive ridley sea turtle is an endangered species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and several other international treaties. Nicaragua is home to two critical nesting sites for this species at Playa La Flor National Wildlife Refuge and Chococente National Wildlife Refuge. These arribada beaches are two of only approximately 6 such sites in the Eastern Pacific.

Recent information suggests that Playa La Flor is threatened by a hotel construction project which has already brought and dumped many truckloads of river rock inside the reserve. The present destructive activities have begun without the proper environmental studies (as specified in the General Law of the Environment), and are likely to threaten this important nesting site while diminishing Nicaragua's international reputation as a leader in sea turtle conservation.

The fate of this critical sea turtle habitat and the future of Nicaragua's natural resources remain in your control. We urge you to protect Playa La Flor Wildlife Refuge to the full extent of General Law of the Environment of Nicaraguan for present and future generations of Nicaraguans and for all humanity.



Background Information

Playa La Flor, located on Nicaragua's Pacific Coast, is one of only two arribada sites for the endangered olive ridley sea turtle in Nicaragua, and is one of approximately six sites still remaining in the Eastern Pacific.

* Approximately 15,000 olive ridley turtles nest at Playa La Flor each year.

* Leatherback sea turtles also nest at the site regularly and green and hawksbill sea turtles have also been reported to nest there occasionally.

* Playa La Flor has been protected as a National Wildlife Refuge for several years, though its official status as a Wildlife Refuge was only finalized in 1996.

* The Nicaraguan Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) and the University of Central America (UCA) have been carrying out efforts to develop sea turtle monitoring and research programs, as well as community-based conservation programs.

* A landowner with inholdings inside the refuge (and directly behind the nesting beach) has illegally and without permits begun construction activities in recent months that threaten the nesting beach including:

* road building

* land clearing, second growth tree cutting

* fencing the nesting beach with barbed-wire, impacting nesting turtles

* planting of non-native vegetation (teak, melina, pine) in areas used by nesting turtles and within the Refuge in general.

* illegal collection of river rock (70+ truck loads) and dumping into refuge for future hotel construction site.

* allowing his cattle and horses to enter the nesting area and trample nests

This is presumably for the construction of a hotel or high-priced residences. The individual is quite influential with the present government of Nicaragua and believes he can act with impunity.

* JA! ( Environmental Youth!), UCA (University of Central America) and other Nicaraguan biologists and conservationists (representatives from communities surrounding La Flor and Chacocente) have requested support to pressure the Nicaraguan government to enforce the General Law of the Environment, in order to protect Playa La Flor and the endangered sea turtles that nest there.

* During the Regional Workshop for the Conservation of Central American Sea Turtles, held in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, from September 26 to October 1 of 1997, the participating group voted unanimously to support a Resolution directed toward the President of Nicaragua to protect Playa La Flor and ensure the General Law of the Environment is fully enforced. An electronic version with the signatures of the participants is enclosed as a separate file.





Dedicated to the Preservation of the World's Rainforests

Rainforest Relief works to protect the world's remaining tropical and temperate rainforests by reducing the demand for the products and materials of rainforest destruction such as timber, agricultural products such as bananas, beef, coffee, chocolate, and cut flowers and mining products such as gold, oil and other metals.

Brooklyn, NY: phone/fax: (718) 832-6775 Portland, OR: (503) 236-3031

P.O. 150566 * Brooklyn, NY 11215 USA