Ecotourism: A bridge to more sustainable practices

Throughout Costa Rica’s history, productivity, conservation, and sustainability have battled for primary occupation of the country’s people and economy. Productivity in Costa Rica before the 1980s primarily concerned farming (coffee/banana) plantations and animal pastures. Plantations and pastures require large amounts of open space to plant crops or to let animals openly graze. So until the 1980s the forests of Costa Rica were quickly disappearing. Conversely, conservation in Costa Rica entails the protection natural resources such as forests and the wildlife which inhabits them. Although many indigenous communities are accustomed to conservational practices, conservation of natural resources had not been majorly enforced by the government until the 1980s. This is when the profitability of cattle pastures and coffee plantations began to decrease and ecotourism began popular among businesses. During the 1980s, the Costa Rican
government began to establish nature reserves which would draw in tourists interested in Cost Rica’s unique environment. Nature reserves simultaneously conserved pre-existing resources and allowed for the introduction of
sustainable practices. Sustainability was introduced into these reserves when land which was once used as plantations and pastures was repurposed to grow new trees. Even though Costa Rica has become more sustainable and
conservationist, the productivity in farms has decreased but the productivity with respect to the economy increased. Sustainable and conservationist initiatives are indicative of an increase in forests and animals and the spread of ideas encouraging the protection of these limited natural resources. However, the sustainable initiatives have not been without setbacks, for example, climate change has caused many plants to die in changing climates and changing habitats
for animals. Climate change, as a result of these impacts, has slowed conservationist efforts as more of the limited plant and animals types have an increasing smaller habitat. Yet, sustainability initiatives have increased as a result of the
diminishing habitats, there are stronger feelings to protect what is left of the forest and as a result has brought in more tourists interested to see the limited and diminishing habitats of plants and animals.
Montverde suffers from the aforementioned problems the same as most other parts of Costa Rica. Montverde, however, is in a more dire situation. Montverde is situated around cloud forests which are significantly less common in Cost Rica compared to other forests. The cloud forests have a greater biodiversity in a smaller amount of land, so the effects of climate change are even greater in the clouds.
If I were to prioritize only one of these aspects I would focus on sustainability. I believe through sustainability conservation and productivity would increase. An increase in sustainability would mean a greater number of people would be aware of the problems surrounding Costa Rica, climate change, and the diminishing forests. When more people have knowledge of the problems, I believe more people will support initiatives to placate the problems; they will open reserves to conserve the habitats. Through the opening of reserves, there will be more land covered in natural forests which gives tourists more places to visit and increase productivity in the economy.

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