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San José, Costa Rica. Thursday September 20, 2007.

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World biosphere reserve

With the Caño Negro Wetlands at the core of it, UNESCO established a new world biosphere reserve. Agua y Paz (Water and Peace) is the name of the new ecological area and it is located in the northern part of Costa Rica, in the Los Chiles canton of the province of Alajuela. A biosphere reserve is an area of major natural wealth, where the preservation of natural resources is the main goal, but where the rational economic use of the area by the neighboring communities is also fostered. Water and Peace encompasses 916,000 hectares (2,263,436 acres); it is located in the San Juan River (Nicaragua) Watershed, and extends from the Central Volcanic Mountain Range Reserve in Costa Rica to the Indio Maiz Reserve in Nicaragua. Several national parks and wildlife reserves are part of the new sanctuary, chosen by UNESCO among 33 sites sponsored by 21 countries. This is the third such site in Costa Rica, which also boasts of La Amistad –in the Talamanca mountain range and shared with Panama– and the Central Volcanic Mountain Range –in the central part of the country–.

$1 million for ecology

The Pax Natura Foundation, with headquarters in the United States, donated $1 million that the Government of Costa Rica will use in the payment of environmental services provided by people and companies who protect 12,000 hectares (29,652 acres) of forests. The payment is a financial aid that the State provides to the owners of forested land who protect it and improve the environment. The Pax Natura Foundation announced that its aid will extend for 10 years and that the overall amount will reach $9 million. An official said that this aid means preventing the deforestation of 3,680 hectares (9,093 acres).

A free economy

Costa Rica and Panama, preceded by Chile and El Salvador, share the third position in the Latin American ranking of free economies. Costa Rican economy is also 30th among 141 nations. These data are part of those recorded in the 2007 Annual Report on Economic Freedom in the World, issued by the Cato Institute in the United States and the Fraser Institute in Canada. According to the report Hong Kong is at the top of the world ranking, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States. On the opposite side, Venezuela, which used to be at the top of free economies in Latin America, has dropped to position 135th, surpassing only five African countries and an Asian one.

Environment-friendly business

Delegates from eight private British companies that partake in the Office for Climate Change Projects of the United Kingdom visited Costa Rica and met with local counterparts, seeking joint cooperation to develop environment-friendly projects. The initiative is aimed at mitigating the effects of global warming and is based on the proposals of the Kyoto Protocol. On the other hand, a trade mission from Canada that includes 15 private companies and two governmental offices linked to the construction sector visited Costa Rica in order to establish bilateral business in the sector.

A majority will vote

A poll by UNIMER for the daily La Nación found that 60 percent of all registered voters have definitely made up their minds and will cast their ballots in the October 7th referendum on the Central America-Dominican Republic-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). According to that projection, whether the YES or the NO wins, the outcome of the referendum will be binding. Of that 60 percent, 53 percent have already decided which way they will vote, while 6 percent have not done so yet. On the other hand, 14 percent of registered voters are most likely to abstain. In addition, the survey found that, currently, 56 percent of registered voters support the YES, while 36 percent of them would vote NO.

OAS Secretary General

Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States announced that he will visit Costa Rica in order to be a witness of the October 7th referendum on the CAFTA. He will be the head of a team of OAS observers.

Free transportation

Several bus companies will not charge voters on Referendum Day. They announced that they will honor the tickets that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal will issue to voters who live in a place different from the one where they are to vote. Tribunal sources pointed out that this means millions in savings for the State.

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