Commodifying the Rainforest: The Pros and Cons of Eco-tourism in Costa Rica

This discussion topic submitted by Khara Scott-Bey ( at 12:18 pm on 4/25/00. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

I finally decided on this topic after grappling with issues of environmental ethics and sustainable development. So many developing countries are turning to ecotourism as a way to profit off of their
biodiversity. On the one hand I feel that this commodification not only disrupts the natural systems of these areas but also turns environments into a middle -class playground that alienates indigenous
cultures and further removes them from the land. On the other hand it is a way to develop an economy not based on destruction but conservation. For many countries it is becoming a viable option when
faced with deforestation and environmental degradation. What I plan to look at in my paper is how I as a future ecologist should situate myself in this argument. Is ecotourism a tool of destruction or a
tool of sustainability?

I. Introduction
A. Argument: Ecotourism has both negative and positive aspects that need to
be considered fully.

B. Ecotourism in Costa Rica is a good example of these pros and cons

II. What are the problems?
A. Conservation or commodofication

B. Disruption of Ecosystems

C. Question of Class

D. Affects on Indigenous cultures

III. What are the benefits?
A. Economic growth with smaller degradation

B. Educational

C. Sees nature as a valued resource

D. Allows indigenous culture some economic power

III. Conclusion
A. Asserting that both need to be taken into account

B. Holistic conclusion


Beletsky, Les, Costa Rica : the Ecotraveller's wildlife guide (San Diego: Academic Press, 1998)

Brandon, Katrina, "Ecotourism and conservation: a review of key issues" (Washington, D.C.: Global Environment Division, Environment Department, The World Bank, 1996)


Pleumarom, Anita, "The Political Economy of Tourism", Ecologist (Dorset, England: MIT Press July/Aug. 1994) pp. 142-148

Tangley, Laura "Rainforest For Profit: Businesses Sell Nuts, Tourism, and 'Carbon Storage", U.S. News & World Report (April 20, 1998) pp. 40+

Youth, Howard "Green Awakening in a Poor Country," WorldWatch (Worldwatch Institute, Sept./Oct. 1998) pp. 28-36

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It is 12:07:59 PM on Friday, November 27, 2020. Last Update: Wednesday, May 7, 2014