In Costa Rica, fewer tourists have led to rethinking conservation efforts

With desperate times requiring adaptation, the pandemic has accelerated pressure on organizations to strengthen their financial stability and diversify their cash flows. After all, ongoing initiatives to protect and maintain the environment simply could not be abandoned due to lack of funding.

Children’s Eternal Rainforest in Costa Rica

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To help support the reforestation program and other projects, the Monteverde Institute has changed course and launched an online program fundraiser via GoFundMe. The campaign raised more than $ 12,000, which allowed reforestation to continue uninterrupted by allowing the team to hire locals who had lost other sources of income during the pandemic.

The Monteverde Conservation League also launched a crowdfunding initiative that generated enough funds to run the organization through 2020. Most donations, Stallcup notes, did not come from corporate sponsors, but from members of the community. . “It really has been the effort of a lot, even if each person can only give 20, 50 or 100 dollars,” she says. “It’s a really crucial base of support for people who know and care about the Children’s Everlasting Rainforest, and want to make sure it’s protected in perpetuity. (They’re also building an endowment fund that was launched before the pandemic, with renewed focus.)

The community that comes together to defend the environment during difficult times shows how deeply rooted this ethic of conservation is in the social fabric. Monteverde is, after all, built on a foundation of environmental responsibility, dating back to the Quaker community who settled there in the 1950s and protected the common wilderness around their water source, as well as visiting biologists. who championed conservation efforts in the 1970s after recognizing the region’s special biodiversity.

By requiring an increased focus on local support, the pandemic has created valuable opportunities to harness, cultivate and strengthen those long-held ecological sensitivities so closely tied to Monteverde’s very origins.

When Costa Rica’s public schools closed due to the pandemic, the Monteverde Conservation League shifted its educational focus to a more family-centered, multigenerational approach, organizing hikes to guide a local family at a time in the forest, where they plant a tree and learn about citizen activism and recycling. The unusual circumstances prompted the League to reconsider “who our audience is and how we can have a wider impact,” Stallcup said.

Costa Rica’s borders reopened to some international travelers in August 2020. Many of the new efforts implemented during the pandemic will persist, helping environmental groups continue to maintain various outreach and fundraising strategies. Yet as tourists dust off plans that have been put on hold, Monteverde welcomes them and encourages them to consider the ethical choices they wish to make as they venture out again.

“Part of sustainable tourism has to be made up of tourists who are truly connected to the local environment,” says Fern Perkins, Acting Executive Director of the Monteverde Institute. “That you don’t just walk around in a bubble‚ but [trying] to understand what life in the field is like, and then how your presence influences that for the people who live here all the time.


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