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Costa Rica's Dilemma: Does Eco-Tourism Damage the Eco-?
Writing for The Guardian, Leo Hickman has published a thoughtful rumination on Costa Rica. Held up as a shining example of eco- "best practice," some Costa Ricans are growing concerned that the tourists they're attracting are doing more harm than good.
The environmental scheme in Costa Rica is voluntary, meaning just about any Jose with cash can set up an "eco-lodge" overlooking a turtle's nesting grounds. It's cool when it's overlooking the grounds, but when enthusiastic shutterbugs, for example, begin traipsing along the beach to experience the "eco-" up close, the turtles get upset -- and they may not return. So much for eco-wonderland.
With parks exceeding the maximum amount of visitors that are allowed to enter each day; with zip lines being hoisted high in the trees; with "tropical golf courses" being constructed adjacent to the forests, how much longer can the delicate animal life cope, before the ecosystem simply falls apart?
Maybe well-meaning eco-turistas would serve the communities better if they just stayed home. Or maybe the government needs to intervene, and enforce the limits (already on the books) on the number of visitors the parks can allow.