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Eco-Logical | Sustainable Tourism Works

Eco-Logical | Sustainable Tourism Works

Dylan Brown offers some insight into NGO conservation through eco-tourism initiatives in Costa Rica, a destination near & dear to Karma Trekkers.

I have conducted an independent study regarding all or most of the non-profit/non-governmental conservation and eco-tourism organizations (NGOs (non-governmental organizations)) in the country of Costa Rica.  The reasons for my conducting this independent study is to deepen understanding of how these organizations operate, so that this understanding can be applied  to other parts of the world where these conservation initiatives are much needed.  The reason for choosing the country of Costa Rica for this study is because this country seems to be leading all of the world’s countries in these kinds of NGO conservation through eco-tourism initiatives

On the website of the Fund for Costa Rica, they have summed up what is the basic problem that these conservation/eco-tourism NGOs look to solve. It states that, “The world’s tropical forests are being destroyed at an astounding rate. The basic problem is that a standing, biologically diverse tropical forest creates little to no economic benefits for the private rural landholder. In order to generate income to support a family, it is often necessary to cut the forest to sell the wood or to convert the area to another land use such as cattle ranching or crops.

If the world is to conserve and expand our remaining tropical forests, substantial financial resources are needed in order to protect tropical forests from illegal cutting and to provide income for those rural land owners that protect this important resource. But who should pay to protect the forests? Ultimately, if forests are to be financed sustainably, the “user” of the forest should pay for its protection. In many parts of the world (including Costa Rica), the eco-tourism industry is the primary “user” of standing and biologically diverse tropical forests. Without the forests, the sloths, the monkeys, and the toucans, the tourists would probably not be visiting.”

So, as we see with these previous statements, the rural landholder must be able to make a livable wage that is sufficient to support a family, while using their land for something that economically benefits them more than cutting the forest and converting it to another land use such as agriculture. Herein lies the challenge for forest conservation in Costa Rica. This is because often the rural landholder can benefit more economically by cutting and converting the land to other uses.

Obviously then, there needs to be a way to finance the rural landholder and his/her family so that he/she can make a decent living wage while leaving the forest on his/her land standing. In Costa Rica, they have figured out that the best way to do this is through eco-tourism.

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