Today, through visiting the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve as well as sitting in on a lecture by Don Guillermo, I was able to gain a better understanding of how productivity, conservation, and sustainability serve as competing interests. In this case, productivity refers to how successful a business practice is, conservation refers to efforts to improve the health of the environment, and sustainability refers to whether the economic success as well as the conservation efforts will have the potential to actually last in the long run.
In Guillermo’s lecture today, he discussed how putting too much of an emphasis on tourism has created many challenges for Monteverde regarding sustainability and conservation. As Monteverde’s tourism industry grew, many locals strayed away from farming and, instead, began to build houses and hotels in farm areas as well as invest money into the tourism industry. While focusing all of its efforts on tourism seemed to be the most productive thing to do in the short run, it was unsustainable as the economy was unable to depend solely on tourism during economic recessions. Furthermore, Guillermo discussed the issue of deforestation in Costa Rica as a whole; in order to allow people to settle in the area–as well as create areas for tourists to stay–it was necessary to cut down a lot of trees. Although this helped to develop settlements and tourist areas, it negatively affected the environment in Monteverde.
Out of productivity, sustainability, and conservation, I would say that I would prioritize productivity; this is because I believe that high productivity levels allow for the creation of sustainable conservation initiatives. Higher productivity means more revenue, and thus access to more resources to pursue various conservation efforts; when talking about tourism in particular, this then means that tourists will have an even better experience. This is a sustainable solution because–as Guillermo discussed–it functions somewhat like a cycle; tourism brings in lots of revenue for Monteverde, which Monteverde can use to pursue conservation efforts, which leads tourists to have a better experience, which leads them to continue to donate to Monteverde conservation efforts even when they go back home, meaning that Costa Rica will be able to continue to improve its conservation efforts, ultimately improving tourists’ experiences and the likelihood of them finding ways to aid in conservation efforts.