Early this morning we departed for our last adventure in Monteverde, a hike through the cloud forest. It was fascinating to see the immense amount of biodiversity that Costa Rica is home to. A few days ago we had a discussion about the Quakers who arrived in Costa Rica from Alabama in 1951 with a man named Don Ricardo. The first of those to come included Don Ricardo’s farther, who with many others began to cut down trees to create pastures and farms. This negatively impacted Monteverde as it promoted deforestation and the destruction of the incredible biodiversity. However, those mistakes from the past are being resolved today as Don Ricardo and many others are working with locals like Don Guillermo, the man who led our tour of Life Monteverde yesterday. Today the people of Monteverde work together on sustainability practices that will ensure the preservation of the environment as the wildlife and biodiversity continue to prosper.
Monteverde differs from Heredia and San José in that there are many North Americans and Europeans who are traveling here to visit, or to settle in the beautiful mountains. The biodiversity has fostered a strong focus on ecotourism which has brought foreign investment to the area. There has been a great influence of foreigners as it has impacted the economy and the lives of locals in Monteverde. For example, Life Monteverde is now promoting sustainability and giving tours to convey their message of environmental protection and development. Ecotourism has transformed into their livelihood as it becomes more and more popular.
As for the Quakers, their work was impacted as well because now they have a stronger focus on reforestation instead of cutting down trees. Some like Don Ricardo give tours and share education about the rich biodiversity of the country. Their work was also impacted by foreign investment through a change in ownership of the cheese factory. They chose to sell the cheese factory to a Mexican company and decided to focus more time on education and community development. Overall, I think this shift has positive impact as ecotourism promotes sustainability of the environment as well as provides education of how to be sustainable in one’s own life.