Sunday, April 20, 2008

The dark side of Costa Rica’s environmental tourism.

Costa Rica is often touted as an environmental paradise. It may have been true in the early years. But mass tourism has brought misery to the region. An investigation by Christian Science Monitor has come out with alarming facts.

Water quality tests conducted by the Costa Rica Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) over the past year found faecal contamination far above levels considered safe by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The biodiversity that has long lured visitors is disappearing. 97 percent of Costa Rica's sewage flows untreated into rivers, streams, or the ocean. Illegal well drilling is running aquifers dry. Monkey populations, symbols of the rain forest and a charismatic tourist attraction, declined by an estimated 50 percent in little more than a decade. Sea turtles are also threatened.

Costa Rica has 11,450 species of plants, 67,000 species of insects, 850 species of birds, and the highest density of plants, animals, and ecosystems of any country in the Americas. It is a shame if these disappear by pandering to tourism. What is needed is levelheaded planning. Judiciously used tourism is a great driver of economic prosperity. But the hen that lays the golden eggs has to be protected.

Read the full story here

No comments: