The people of GAIA
Vision, Mission, and Values
Conservation Science Research
Education for Sustainable Development
Conservation Science in Practice
Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo
Apoyo Spanish School
Managua Spanish School
Revista Estudios Ambientales
Seva Centers International
Laguna de Apoyo
Apoyo Birdwatching Tours
Managua Birdwatching Tours
Environmental and Social Impact Assessment
Sustainable Development and Wild Nature Conservation in NICARAGUA
A map of the route of the Nicaragua Grand Canal, as proposed by HKND.
Whether Nicaragua gets a canal is no longer mere speculation. A company from
Hong Kong, HKND, has been awarded a
concession for the construction and operation of The Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal, and an environmental and social impact
assessment (ESIA) was recently completed by the international consultant Environmental Resources Management (ERM).
The ESIA, which evaluated the environmental and social feasibility of the overall project, but without making
specific design or location choices, is more than 12,000 pages long. The ESIA for the Nicaragua Grand Canal
is still under government review. To conduct the field work for the ESIA, ERM counted on local expert contributions
coordinated by the Nicaraguan nonprofit FUNDAR. GAIA scientists participated in the ESIA for the Nicaragua Grand
Canal in the field throughout the proposed route, collecting data in the field and also in composing reports for
the environmental study.
An early depiction of a proposed interoceanic canal across Nicaragua, coupled with a map of the
Panama canal, from days gone by.
The Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal is projected to cost US$50,000,000,000, promising to
be among the most costly projects ever performed. It is proposed to be much wider than the Panama Canal,
designed for much larger ships, thereby serving the region in a complementary way to the older canal.
As what promises to be the largest engineering construction job in the world, the Nicaragua
Interoceanic Grand Canal has already generated considerable debate inside the country. GAIA scientist
Jeffrey K. McCrary,
along with three other biodiversity specialists in Nicaragua, Aldo Hernández-Portocarrero, Octavio Saldaña-Tapia, and
Ricardo Rueda-Pereira, published a correspondence in Nature, in which a pair
of allegations regarding the ESIA for the proposed canal, presented by scientists in an earlier publication in the
The environmental impact assessment is likely to be made available for public review soon,
as part of the evaluation process for large projects, at which time much raw data on the biodiversity of this very
little-studied region are expected to be available. Scientists will participate in the cataloguing of data for
public and scientific benefit, once the data are cleared for publication.
Lake Nicaragua hosts a wide range of wildlife, which must be considered in the design and operation
of the pending Nicaragua canal. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.
The Gaia Program supports numerous iniciatives in environmental management. Please contact us
by email, or by telephone 011-505-8882-3992.
volunteer your time or make a small
donation to help us continue to serve the environment in Nicaragua? Please help us make Nicaragua a better place for
all people and nature.
GAIA scientist Jeffrey McCrary in the San Miguelito wetlands, an internationally
recognized RAMSAR site. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.
Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.
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This baby squirrel was raised by the GAIA staff after she fell from a tree as an infant. Today she has her own family in the trees above Estación Biológica.
Photo Jeffrey McCrary.
Field research is conducted on several animal and plant groups at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Photo
Spanish classes for volunteers, interns and other visitos are vital components of our educational program in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo
Bird populations are monitored in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve by the staff and volunteers
of Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Photo Joe Taylor.
The forest inside the crater in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve contains dozens of terrestrial species, making the area an
appropriate site for wildlife studies. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.
Field identification of the reptiles of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Kolby Kirk.
Scientists at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo study endangered fish species in the lake. Photo Topi Lehtonen.
Wildlife studies in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, including resident and migratory birds are conducted by the staff of
Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. The Long-tailed Manakin is among the more commonly captured birds in mist net studies.
Photo Wendy van Kooten.
Wild animal rescue at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Here, GAIA Director Jeffrey McCrary is accompanied by
a rapidly healing variegated squirrel (Sciurus variegatoides) that was severely injured by illegal poachers. Photo Anne Sutton.