Eco Tours in Costa Rica - Sustainable Tourism & Conservation Laws
Costa Rica is an exceptional part of the world, with a seemingly blessed balance of all things. Not only does Costa Rica have an obvious natural beauty, but it is also home to one of the most forward-thinking, environmentally active governments on the planet. Ecotourism is one of the main drivers of the economy of this tiny country, and the people of Costa Rica have undertaken a systematic process of protecting the resplendent natural beauty that draws these tourists here. The environmental laws of Costa Rica are tough without being constricting, and strike a good balance between encouraging exploration and discouraging exploitation.
One of the most important pieces of legislation for tourists to keep in mind while in Costa Rica is known as the National Law of Archaeological Heritage. This law is significantly important for tourists to recognize since it is the most likely one that the average tourist could run afoul of. It basically provides protection for all sites of native heritage both discovered and undiscovered. Since there are likely to be a lot of different archaeological sites that have not yet been found, special provisions are in place to protect the as yet undiscovered sites from disturbance. Even if an artifact is found outside of a protected area, the artifact itself is still illegal for tourists to keep. Tourists are required to leave all possible artifacts in place and alert designated individuals if it lies outside of the confines of a protected area. Since tourists often recreate in the rural areas where these undiscovered sites are most likely to be, this is an important law to keep in mind.
The Law of Wildlife Conservation focuses on protecting the diverse wildlife of Costa Rica from both purposeful and accidental impacts from man. In the context of this law, "wildlife" does not simply refer to animals, but plants as well. In fact, the average tourist is more likely to run into trouble with the "plant" side of this definition than the "animal" one. This is due primarily to one thing: flowers. Costa Rica is home to some extremely rare, endemic species of flowering plants. These flowers are renowned worldwide for their beauty, making it very tempting for tourists to grab a few as though they were walking through a meadow back home. While this doesn't necessarily cause any real harm when a few people do it every now and then, the sheer mass of tourists that visit the area make this law necessary. Without this law-- and others like it-- these flowers could be decimated within only a few years. The law also deals with the protection of animal life, most notably from human feeding. The roads that cut through and around wild habitat are often fraught with interesting species of animals. Due to this, it can be very tempting for tourists to feed the animals in order to get better pictures. While this may seem harmless to some people, the fact is that it encourages the animals to spend time near the roads, putting them in danger of getting hit by trucks. It also promotes an unhealthy dependence on human food, most of which is completely incompatible with the digestive systems of these animals.
These are just a couple of the forward thinking laws that have made Costa Rica such a haven for ecotourists. People do visit this country for other forms of tourism as well, but the rich ecological history of Costa Rica is the real draw. Almost all tourism dollars spent here are spent in ecotourism, making conservation more than just an issue of environmental sympathies. It's a matter of economic life or death, and conservation is taken very seriously as a result. It's actually something of a positive feedback loop-- where positive conservation values generate healthy economic results, creating more money to put into conservation work which will, in turn, again go to help the economy.
Tourists travelling to Costa Rica will find a land rich with biodiversity and cultural history. Both of these things are embraced and central to nearly every experience to be had here. While there are some significant laws in place to protect the natural world here, any tourist practicing a "leave no trace" attitude will not run into any problems.