Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Costa Rica has shown every country in the Caribbean that preserving natural beauty pays ...appealing to those who treasure flora, fauna and natural wonders above t-shirts and trinkets

Save The Bays CEO: Costa Rica Turned Environmental Protection into Tourism Winner

Costa Rica
CONSERVATION PAYS – Save The Bays CEO Lindsey McCoy witnessed firsthand the profits to be gained from preserving natural beauty during a trip to Costa Rica.

A leading environmentalist in The Bahamas said Costa Rica has shown every country in the Caribbean that preserving natural beauty pays, appealing to those who treasure flora, fauna and natural wonders above t-shirts and trinkets.

Lindsey McCoy, who was appointed CEO of the fast-growing environmental movement Save The Bays earlier this year, commented on the winning model Costa Rica has created after returning from her most recent re-discovery tour of the country that extends from the Atlantic on one coast to the Pacific on the other with a central mountain range overlooking its coastlines.

“And with only a tiny fraction of the world’s land mass, Costa Rica holds 6% of the world’s biodiversity,” said McCoy. “The jungles, the forests, the monkeys, the crocodiles – everything still has the feeling of being a little wild. Perhaps because they have done such a remarkable job of preserving what they have, especially the forests, they have created an oasis that appeals to anyone who wants to experience a place where the beauty of the natural world is all around you. We can do that here, too. We have so much to work with.”

Costa Rica
McCoy on zipline
About to take the plunge. Zip-lining is among the biggest attractions in mountainous Costa Rica
Costa Rica was not always the poster country of good environmental management. In the 1960’s and 70’s, it was paying the price for deforestation from massive tree cutting to make room for cattle grazing. Coastlines were eroding. The once majestic land along with the variety of flora and fauna was declining faster in 20 years than it had in hundreds, sacrificing its majesty for the sake of farming and, in particular, a few wealthy farming families.

The political will to reverse the process, said McCoy, spawned more than a decade of revival. Costa Rica signed on to 45 international treaties, created and funded a new environment and energy department, enacted reams of legislation with strong legs and regulations, won the buy-in from hoteliers and others in hospitality.

That about-face netted dramatic results.

Today, McCoy noted, 25% of the land is in national parks. Ninety-two percent of the electricity is generated by renewable sources.

“Even more exciting is that once their policy changed and they realized the value of protected land they were able to restore much of the forests they had lost to logging and agriculture,” said McCoy. “I have always respected Costa Rica for its focus on eco-tourism and promoting its natural resources, but when I started reading more about the country I realized its commitment to the environment goes even deeper…clean energy, paying for environmental services and policy to go carbon neutral.”

It was Costa Rica, she recalled, that created the Certification for Sustainable Tourism, now a badge of honour sought after by those in the hospitality industry in many countries.

Costa Rica
McCoy family before tubing
McCoy and her son Frye get ready to brave the rapids. A number of rivers in Costa Rica offer kayak and tubing attractions.
“The message is that Costa Rica took action to restore and protect what it knew made it a desirable tourist destination and a great place to live,” said McCoy. “The promise of a quick dollar from a developer paled by comparison to the promise of a life of beauty for the country. They understood that you did not have to give up jobs and economic growth to achieve tourism success. Just the opposite. Create the right environment and they will come.”

May 06, 2014

Save The Bays