Ecotourism In Costa Rica

Monteverde
In the past fifty years, Costa Rica set aside millions of acres of land for its national park system. Costa Ricans realized the importance of land conservation and created an industry with many positive effects. There are a variety of unique destinations for tourists to visit, making Costa Rica a top destination for ecotourism.

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In the early twentieth century, Costa Rica did not focus on preserving the natural beauty of its land and focused on agriculture instead. However, in 1963, a Swedish couple purchased the thousands of acres of land which would later become the Cabo Blanco National Reserve and Costa Rica’s first nature reserve. It was then that the people of Costa Rica realized the importance of the conservation of natural habitats. The National System of Conservation Areas continued to expand until it owned twenty-three percent of the nation’s land. According to the National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica, it is estimated that five hundred thousand species of organisms, or four percent of Earth’s biodiversity, are found in Costa Rica, a nation which is smaller than the state of Maine. As ecotourism in Costa Rica grew, deforestation rates shrunk until they hit zero in 2005. Today, Costa Rica is the most visited Central American nation and earned almost three billion dollars from the ecotourism industry in 2015. 

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Aside from generating billions of dollars each year for the nation’s economy, ecotourism in Costa Rica has many other benefits. If not for Costa Rica’s incredible efforts to conserve its gorgeous natural habitats, the land would have been quickly taken over by farming, mining, or logging and would have lost its unique identity. Walking through the Monteverde Cloud Forest and viewing hundreds of species residing in about fifty thousand acres of land are just a few of the ways that ecotourists in Costa Rica can be inspired to take action in aiding conservation efforts across the globe. Today, Costa Rica’s government encourages small-scale development which allows the nation’s natural resources to thrive and complement the ecotourism industry. Costa Rica’s ecotourism industry has brought many changes which benefit both the nation’s four and a half million residents and the environment. The people are rightfully proud of their stewardship of the land.

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In late 2012, while living in Costa Rica, my family and I took a weekend trip up to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The three-hour ride from the capital city, San Jose, to the reserve was full of picturesque landscapes unlike anything I had seen before. I vividly remember walking on the trails in the reserve and almost immediately losing count of the number of different species of animals I saw. I couldn’t take several steps without stopping to take pictures of species of amphibians and reptiles which I had only seen before through Google Images. Going on a zip-line through the clouds above the forest was enchanting and unforgettable. After the weekend in Monteverde, I realized the importance of the ecotourism which allowed the land in the reserve to be protected.
 
Costa Rica’s ecotourism industry has greatly supported the nation's economy and is a wonder that can only be truly experienced firsthand. Without deforestation and mining, individuals like myself can explore the land's many parks and reserves and become inspired to protect nature. I highly recommend visiting Costa Rica if you have the chance because of what its ecotourism industry has done for the environment.
 
Posted by Stefano De Maria on Oct 28, 2017 1:28 PM America/Chicago

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