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Environmental and Social Impact Assessment


Sustainable Development and Wild Nature Conservation in NICARAGUA



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Nicaragua Canal

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.

Nicaragua canal

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 same magazine.

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.

Report in Science on the Nicaragua Grand Canal, including interview with Gaia scientist Jeffrey McCrary.


Article by Richard Condit in PLOS Biology on the Nicaragua Grand Canal


Correspondence in Nature on the Nicaragua Grand Canal


Author list for Correspondence in Nature


Nicaragua canal

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.

Editorial in El Nuevo Diario


Report on Nature correspondence in El Nuevo Diario


Report on Nature correspondence in El 19


Report on Nature correspondence in NicaNet


Gaia scientist Jeffrey McCrary interview on canal environmental impact statement in Global Construction Review


Report on the Nicaragua Canal in Havana Times


Executive Summary of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal Environmental Resources Management


Resumen Ejecutivo de la Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental y Social Nicaragua Gran Canal Interoceánico Environmental Resources Management


The Gaia Program supports numerous iniciatives in environmental management. Please contact us by email, or by telephone 011-505-8882-3992.

Can you 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.

Nicaragua canal

GAIA scientist Jeffrey McCrary in the San Miguelito wetlands, an internationally recognized RAMSAR site. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.
Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal


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canal Nicaragua

Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.

Nicaragua Canal

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Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo

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.

 

Nicaragua Spanish Schools

Field research is conducted on several animal and plant groups at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.

 

Nicaragua Spanish Schools

Spanish classes for volunteers, interns and other visitos are vital components of our educational program in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.

 

Proyecto Ecológico

Bird populations are monitored in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve by the staff and volunteers of Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Photo Joe Taylor.

 

environmental impact assessment

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.

 

Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal

Field identification of the reptiles of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Kolby Kirk.

 

Nicaragua

Scientists at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo study endangered fish species in the lake. Photo Topi Lehtonen.

 

Nicaragua

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.

 

Environmental Resources Management

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.