Nicaragua’s government last year granted a concession to a company in Hong Kong (China), virtually unknown, to build a canal passing through the Central American country, over 286 km from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
The grant includes the right to build industrial centers, airports, railway system, other pipelines and rights of expropriation of land and natural resources that are found along the way. Construction will begin later this year.
Although not decided the exact route of the canal, are known to cross the Great Lake of Nicaragua (Cocibolca), the largest drinking water reservoir in Central America and an area of great biodiversity, forest and wetlands also of great ecological value. They also live in the various indigenous communities also threatened.
"This project could lead to the greatest environmental disaster in the region," alert Jorge Huete-Perez, director of the Center for Molecular Biology at the University of Central America, which is not explained how this issue has escaped the ‘radar’ of large conservation organizations.
Huete-Perez, along with biologist Axel Meyer at the University of Konstanz (Germany), demand this week in the journal Nature the need for an independent environmental impact assessment for this megaproject. So far the National Assembly of Nicaragua has rejected legal complaints against the concession.
The researcher stresses the environmental threat posed by the work: “It can cause irreparable damage, and lacustrine-marine-terrestrial ecosystems, have a devastating effect on the chemical and biological properties of rivers and lakes, harming the environment by the works of construction, excavation and dredging, and pollution that can produce large oil spills. “
This can also lead to the extinction of many endemic fish species of economic importance for tourism (sport fishing) and survival of poor coastal communities. In addition you can also encourage the introduction of invasive species.
According to the study, the channel infrastructure and other associated projects (pipelines, airports, industrial zones, etc..) Could also have a negative impact on migration patterns and biological dynamics of the terrestrial fauna.