The Growing Ecotourism in Costa Rica

When the Quakers first came to Costa Rica in 1951, they immediately recognized the importance of the conservation of the forests. They ended up placing about a third of their land, about 1,300 acres, in a reserve called The Watershed Property. In that reserve they cared for it together by keeping the boundary lines cut and kicking out illegal squatters before they cut trees or made a claim. Their efforts of protecting The Watershed Property would ultimately become one of the first private reserves in Costa Rica.

Although the Quakers cut many trees for pastures on their own farms, they decided to not cut The Watershed Property in order to protect the headwaters of the Guacimal River. During the dry season, that river was normally the only river still flowing through the lowlands and with the demand for water and a hotter, dryer climate, they recognized the need for water access at the bottom of the mountain. Since the Quakers recognized the importance of conservation, they decided to found the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and the Monteverde Conservation League, being headed by Wolf Guindon. He would patrol through the forest to keep threats of the forest at bay and sharing his commitment to conservation to anyone. One of his most powerful influences was his refusal to carry a gun while patrolling. He taught other young Costa Rican forest guard this approach to conflict and to this day, guards of the Reserve and the League do not carry guns, unlike other conservation officers in North America.

Since the 1980s, Costa Rica has shifted towards ecotourism. With the combination of friendly Ticos and English-speakers and the biological diversity, the influence of foreigners has raised drastically and has impacted the work of Quakers and Life Monteverde. Because ecotourism has been so popular, more attention grew on the Quakers conservation efforts and in turn, the Monteverde Cloud Forests. With more tourists visiting and going on tours like we did today, people can learn about the respect for wildlife and aid in protecting the forests through the cost of the tour. Additionally, the rise in tourists allows Life Monteverde to educate others on the importance of conservation and ways they can get involved in protecting the environment. Overall, the shift in the focus of ecotourism has proved positive. With more people coming to visit, Monteverde is able to get more money to protect the forests while educating others about the importance of protecting our environment.

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