After hearing from both Don Ricardo, a Quaker from Alabama whose father helped develop the area of Monteverde, and Don Guillermo, who is a local Tico farmer at Life Monteverde, I have learned about the work that each of the men and their counterparts have accomplished for Monteverde. Both Quakers and local Ticos have each had many effects on Monteverde and Costa Rica as a whole. Additionally, the rise of ecotourism in recent years has impacted the businesses of both the Quakers and Life Monteverde.
When the Quakers first arrived in Monteverde from Alabama, the work that they were doing did not have a great impact on the Costa Rican environment. In order to create as much space as possible for farming coffee, the Quakers, including Don Ricardo’s father, would saw down many trees, damaging the forests and habitats of native animals. Later, though, Don Ricardo’s father decided to reduce both the rate that he cut trees down and the rate that he sold saws to other farmers because he realized, with the help of fellow Quakers the Powells, that he was damaging the land by clearing the forests. As a result, Don Ricardo’s father and the rest of the Quakers began to prioritize conservation in their work and managed to preserve most of the Monteverde forests. Additionally, each of the original Quaker families contributed to different areas of the neighborhood. For example, one of the families ran a general store, Don Ricardo’s family grew coffee, and another family started a cheese factory. These efforts by each family collectively helped develop the great community that exists in Monteverde today. Of course, as I described in yesterday’s blog post, Don Guillermo and Café de Monteverde have positively impacted Monteverde because they produce coffee and a multitude of other products that bring in tourists, while maintaining sustainable business practices so that Monteverde can be preserved for future generations. When considered together, both the Quakers and local Tico farmers like Don Guillermo seem to have made a positive impact on the Monteverde area.
Years after Don Ricardo’s family and Don Guillermo established their respective businesses, the tourism industry began to rise, eventually overtaking the once dominant coffee industry in Costa Rica. Foreigners have brought both ecotourism and foreign investment to the area, two very important factors for keeping the businesses of Don Ricardo and Don Guillermo running. Although tourism is not necessarily beneficial to the environment, since parts of the forest must be cut down to provide areas such as coffee farms for tourists to visit, ecotourism has an overall positive impact on the environment in Monteverde. Tourism directly supports local pioneers of conservation and sustainability such as Don Ricardo and Don Guillermo, respectively, who will continue to work for environmental solutions, and it educates the tourists who visit Monteverde. I learned a great deal about sustainable environmental practices and gained a new appreciation for land and nature after visiting both Don Ricardo’s home and Don Guillermo’s farm. Assuming that other tourists have a similar eye-opening experience when they visit and listen to the locals, ecotourism certainly has a positive impact on Monteverde solely based on the newfound appreciation for preserving the beautiful land of the Monteverde area and other areas around the world. Thus, foreigners who visit for ecotourism and invest in the local Monteverde businesses have an overall positive impact on Monteverde and Costa Rica as a whole. After all, it was foreigners such as Don Ricardo’s father and the other Quaker families who originally brought their ideas and businesses to Monteverde to attract customers.