Today, we concluded our visit to Monteverde, one of the popular locations of the growing ecotourism industry in Costa Rica. The economic well-being of Monteverde is becoming more and more reliant upon tourism, which the Quakers and Ticos have partnered together on. Their work has led to the preservation and restoration of the rainforest in the area, which protects the large quantity of biodiversity including species unique to the cloud forest. Also, their focus on creating an ecotourism industry that relies heavily upon education, like the sustainable solutions we learned at Life Monteverde and the wildlife we experienced on the cloud forest tour, offers a great opportunity to teach others why climate change is so dangerous. Such education is becoming more and more necessary as our climate change issue grows at an astonishing rate. With the increase in tourism in Monteverde, and therefore, growth in opportunities to provide education, the biodiversity on our planet has a greater chance of being restored.
Despite the important mission of those in Monteverde, there are some issues that tourism may pose to the community and forest. With the growth of tourism comes an increase in the quantity of people passing through the rainforest. While this benefits the education programs in place and communities at sites like those we visited, heavy foot traffic has been known to create issues in preserving these protected lands. This problem can be seen in many places, such as the national parks in the US, where a heavy flow of tourists has created overflowing trash and trampled scenery. As Monteverde gains popularity, the chance of such issues arising increases as well, which will alter the biodiversity including the lives of the beautiful Resplendent Quetzals we saw today.
Another possible issue with the rise of tourism is foreign investment purely for monetary gain. The increasing popularity of the region for tourists may act as a beacon for investors looking to make money fast by putting up large resorts with great views, rather than actually investing into the mission of the Monteverde community. However, these issues can be prevented if the Monteverde community remains vocal and resilient on their goal of conservation and sustainability. Overall, the outlook for Monteverde and their ecotourism industry is bright as long as the community is comprised of those who care about the land first.