Day 7: Cloud Forest

              The work of the Quakers has proved to be quintessential to changing the culture in Monteverde. The combination of their religious ideology of being peaceful and their ability to compare the United States’ destructive mannerisms towards the Earth to Monteverde’s locals opportunity to stop their destruction of their forests gave them the tools to make a difference. Upon arrival the Quakers took measures to preserve the land they inhabited by pulling their resources together and gave the local Ticos an example of a successful business that was still environmentally friendly. Life Monteverde recognized this as an important turning point in their region’s history and even provided us with proof of the transformation since the time the Quakers arrived. The proof came in the form of maps that displayed the growth in preservation of the forests, and the results were quite astounding. The country’s mantra went from chopping down forests left and right for cattle ranches to taking all sustainable precautions possible and making the remaining Cloud Forests in Monteverde National Parks.

              With the help of the Quakers, Costa Rica has become a center for ecotourism which has proved to be an incredible industry for the country. Not only can the country profit off their environmental exploits, but it has the opportunity to teach all the foreigners who visit about their environmental success. While some Ticos may not be impressed with their country being referred to as Gringolandia, it is undeniable that having this reputation has only helped the nation’s economy grow and give countless Ticos jobs. Don Guillermo summed this up perfectly with a single statistic: Approximately 80% of Monteverde’s residents’ jobs are tourism centered. Without the growth of the industry, area like Monteverde would probably be a small, poor farming town where the residents struggle to put food on the table, or worse yet they would have to create an industry which would like result in the destruction of the beautiful forests that cover this region. For a county that holds 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity, this would be crippling to an unfathomable amount of species. Furthermore, ecotourism may not be the most profitable industry in the world, which may disappoint businesses who would like to turn the forest areas into something more profitable like coffee plantations, this isn’t a factor in most Ticos minds for one simple reason: Pura Vida. The Pura Vida lifestyle simply doesn’t emphasize material things the same way we do as Americans so the profitability, while important, falls below sustainability and light-hearted mindset on their totem pole. So yes, ecotourism is the perfect industry for Costa Rica.

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