Draft 1: Can Capitalism and Conservation Combine in Costa Rica?: Ecotourism

This topic submitted by Katie King ( kingka2@miamioh.edu) at 9:36 PM on 3/15/06.

The "Three Amigos" pose in the Bahamas

Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University


“Ecotourism” is often tossed around as a buzzword, as if it provided a simple solution to the world’s environmental woes. Costa Rica is generally a poster child for ecotourism and its success. An examination of ecotourism overall and its specific practice in Costa Rica is therefore useful in understanding not just how Costa Rica has managed to preserve the beautiful scenery we will be traveling in, but also the future of other developing countries as they seek to both improve their economies and conserve the irreplaceable natural areas they contain.

I. What is ecotourism?
A. Definition (and examples/applications)
B. Purpose (preserve environment and make money/allow sustainable development and improvement of human living conditions)
C. Why is it important?
1. Allow development and improvement of human living conditions (aforementioned)
2. Aesthetic/moral reasons for conserving environment
3. Practical reasons for conserving environment (ex.: potential for new medicinal discoveries)

II. Is ecotourism helpful to Costa Rica? (does it help the economy? does it preserve environment?)
A. How ecotourism is practiced in Costa Rica
B. Perceived benefits
C. Perceived drawbacks
D. Overall evaluation

III. Can the Costa Rican model work elsewhere?
A. Why Costa Rica has been so successful
B. Are there any countries that fulfill the same conditions as Costa Rica? Do all the conditions need to be fulfilled?

Possible References:

Menkhaus, Susan, and Douglas J. Lober “International Ecotourism and the Valuation of Tropical Rainforests in Costa Rica.” Journal of Environmental Management 47 (1996): 1-10, http://studentresearch.wcp.miamioh.edu/morefeb03/costarica/costa_rica_tourism.pdf (accessed March 15, 2006).

Hardyment, Chris (2003). “Ecotourism Definition,” http://www.piedrablanca.org/ecotourism-definition.htm (accessed 15 March 2006).

“Costa Rica.” CIA World Factbook. 10 January 2006, http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/cs.html (accessed 15 March 2006).

Dasenbrock, Julie. The Pros and Cons of Ecotourism in Costa Rica. January 2002, http://www.american.edu/projects/mandala/TED/costa-rica-tourism.htm (accessed 15 March 2006).

Kremen, C., et. al. “Economic Incentives for Rain Forest Preservation Across Scales.” Science 288 (2000): 1828-1832, http://studentresearch.wcp.miamioh.edu/RainforestsClimateChange/EconIncentivForestConserv00.pdf (accessed 15 March 2006).

Baker, Christopher P. Costa Rica. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2005.

Steinberg, Paul F. Environmental Leadership in Developing Countries: Transnational Relations and Biodiversity Policy in Costa Rica and Bolivia. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001.

Beletsky, Les. Costa Rica. Northampton, MA: Interlink Books, 2005.


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