Community Service

One of the main requirements all over the world for being an ecolodge is your support for the local community. Before the agriculture revolution 10,000yrs ago it was communities that made the human race thrive and evolve into where we are today. Everything was based on the whole of the community. If one person was hungry the whole community did not eat until that person was fed. This is easily seen in ancient indian traditions that nobody ate at a ceremony until everyone had their food, something that modern day societies find hard to make a reality.

With respect for the community comes respect for the land. Communities of many years ago lived on current sunlight. It was the sunlight that hit the land, that produced the food, that fed the families. Without respecting the land they would have all starved.

With a real ecolodge you see this respect for community in a much deeper sense. Community service of an ecolodge is complete respect for the whole of the community and not just the employees, hotel books, or food of the guest. It is concern for the community inside the ecolodge grounds and outside of the ecolodge grounds including the people from young babies to the elderly. This can be seen in working in school projects to inviting elders to be part of certain activities and decisions in the community.

Another community service which should take an important role in any ecolodge is the food supply. In a world that has an addiction to fossil fuels and much of this being the transport of food, it is very important that ecolodges use local food and involve the community as everyone can be part of organic farming. The community service of teaching local residents about growing without pesticides is just as valuable as teaching English which can also be a positive community service project.

While teaching English can be important in an ecotourism country like Costa Rica it is just as important that ecolodges are advocates for preserving local cultures, languages, and forms of medicines. Many ecolodges are located in areas where older cultures are dying and in need of preservation. An ecolodge  can play an influential role in a community by promoting the local cultures which often includes a particular dialect, herbal medicines and cures and a love for the Earth.

Being part of an ecolodge involves community service and more important the ecolodge must not be invovled in the community but be a part of the community as an educator and a student of many of the magical wonders that are outside of the ecolodge. The greatest service to a community is living with respect to it’s members and the land that supports the life of the community.

Tropical Forest Carbon Storage

When visiting Costa Rica it is important to know why the tropical forest are so important to everyone all around our globe. If you have the chance to stay in a Costa Rica ecolodge chances you will be surrounded by a tropical forest.

Tropical Forest

It has been in recent years with the study of global warming that we have seen the importance of tropical forest go beyond their rich biodiversity. With today’s use of fossil fuels and cutting down of trees in the forest the levels of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere is the most is has been in thousands of years. Contrary to what many people can make you think according to the Nature Conservancy tropical forest are being destroyed by 15 million hectares each year. With this rate we will have lost all of our tropical forest by the end of the century.

We all know that trees help us in the process of photosynthesis which allows all life on Earth to flourish. Along with giving us oxygen trees store a large amount of CO2 in their trunks and also in their roots. The trees of the tropical forest’s store up to 50% more than the trees that are located outside of the tropical regions. These are huge amounts of CO2 that is stored in these trees. All of this CO2 is released when a tree is cut down. Along with this mini-CO2 bomb that is released into the atmosphere no tree is left to absorb anymore CO2. According to Nature Conservancy a tropical forest can hold 300 tons of Carbon per hectare. Every America today releases 20 tons of carbon into the atmoshpere each year. This goes to show we need a lot of forest if we plan on living this same way.

Mangroves are the best CO2 storage centers as they can store up to 4 times more CO2 than most tropical trees. There are a number of mangroves in Costa Rica and if you head to many of the Costa Rica ecolodges on the southern pacific during your Costa Rica vacation you will see and learn about this amazing ecosystem.

In our next blog we will talk about the economic value to allowing tropical forest to just stay as they are giving them a value.

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What are Biodiversity Hotspots?

Biodiversity Hotspots are areas of our planet Earth that environmentalist have considered very high in biodiversity and very threatened in terrestrial regions. The so-called hotspots hold 44% of the plant species on Earth and 35% of vertebrates species on Earth. To qualify to be a hotspot the area has to be home to 1,500 endemic (found nowhere else on Earth) species of plants. The region must also have 70% original it’s original habitat loss. Your Costa Rican ecolodges are located in what is considered a biodiversity hotspot.

Mesoamerica Hotspot

You might be asking yourself if you are staying in a Costa Rica ecolodge which hotspot will you be closest to? The hotspot of the region of Central America is called the Mesoamerica hotspot which includes most of Central America. The Mesoamerica hotspot includes all of the subtropical and tropical ecosystems in Central America. This includes all of Costa Rica, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatamala one third of Mexico, and half of Panama. This area makes for a corridor of many different neotropical species and also home to a number of endemic species of plants and animals.

Hotspot Region of Mesoamerica

The Mesoamerica hotspot is considered a hotspot for it’s richness in tropical ecosystems and biodiversity but it is the danger of losing this area that gives it much attention. According to Nature Conservancy, if attention is not given to the tropical region we will have destroyed almost all of the tropical forest on our planet.

There is always much talk about how Costa Rica is a country that prides itself in having much of it’s land protected. This is great news on a national level. The conservation efforts can not have borders. Costa Rica has 31% of it’s country protected and things are only looking to get better with the “Forever Costa Rica” project offering over $50 million dollars to National Parks. Belize is a very small country that has over 37% of the country now protected.

These seem like high numbers but the Mesoamerica hotspot has only 13% of it’s land protected. The country of El Salvador has less than 5% of it’s original tropical forest and the country has only 2% of it’s land protected. There has been a total of over 80% of the area of Mesoamerica cleared. Just recently between the years of 1980 – 1990 1.4% was being cleared yearly.

This was your introduction to the Mesoamerica hotspot and the idea of protecting important endangered areas of our planet. We have to ask each other what are we protecting these areas from? The answer is the most destructive species ever to roam the planet, us.

If you are looking for a Costa Rica ecotoursim adventure where you can get up close with the wonders of the rainforest contact us today. We are a dedicated Costa Rica vacation company that concentrates on conservation and real Costa Rica ecotourism adventures.

12% of Humans Are…?

This year in Costa Rica they are doing the census which will give the population count of Costa Rica. There are guesses that it will be around 6 million people. Have you ever wondered how many people have ever roamed the Earth now that we are talking about population? Well the answer can be found at 1000Memories
and the total is 56 billion. With a present population of our planet passing the 7 billion sometime in the near future this goes to show that this is the most crowded moment for humans yet.

This lets us know that 12% of humans that have ever lived on the Earth are alive today. This is a lot since we are talking about 200,000 years of human existence and 12% are alive in one little average life span of 77 years. There are a number of reasons for this growth and most of it all has to do with the energy we remove from the Earth and the amount of food we are now able to grow with that energy. We destroy our natural resources, to grow more food, to feed more people. If we keep this up the we will run out of room.

This is where it becomes important to look at how we live. A fun way to learn about this and get to see this is by doing a Costa Rica vacation and experiencing ecotourism. There is no better way to get a close look of how we should live than visiting Costa Rica and staying in Costa Rica ecolodge. Even if you decide to visit to look for some Costa Rica real estate and you end up buying that vacation home in Dominical you can still take the extra steps to make your home a bit more sustainable taking advantage of the many different clean energy sources when building in Costa Rica.

Watch when Life Passes from Plant to Animal

Why Small Animals in Costa Rica?

Not-So Giant Sloth

Many of the tourist that are visiting Costa Rica and staying in the jungle seem to always have the same question after a few days. The question is why are animals so small and hard to see in the tropics of Costa Rica and in places like Africa they are so large and easy to see?

 

The answer is actually quite simple and you are often looking the answer right in the face when you ask somebody. The answer is us humans. It was 25,000 years ago that humans began to spread all over the planet. During this time you could find what is called megafauna all over the Americas. Megafauna are animals like the giant sloth which if around today would be much easier to see than the two smaller species of sloths that we find today in Costa Rica. During this period starting 25,000 years ago humans (which we are part of the megafaunas) wiped out50% of all megafauna weighing more than 100lbs through hunting.

 

You might be asking yourself why does Africa still have megafauna and some ofguesses are that they had more to start with and they have a long lineage of living with the environment in a sustainable form through tribal ways of lives as compared to larger societies thriving societies of the Americas with its only intentions being growth and power. Much of this is up for questioning and studies are often coming out and many now comparing the affects of climate change.

 

But that fact that many animals in Costa Rica are smaller is essentially better. With us humans who like to see big and take pictures of big pictures you have to remember we have a long history of being the super-predator of many animals on the planet. When we humans hunt we enjoy the biggest and largest animal. This goes for fishing also. If you think about it if humans hunt the largest of the largest then those genes will not be passed on in the lineage line. If we continue to destroy animal habitats it will only make even more sense that animals start to evolve smaller and smaller to better adapt to the resources they have left.

This is seen with trees and the the fact that humans often want to cut the largest tree to get the most amount of wood. It is here in some studies that it is seen that trees have started to grow smaller and faster to get a full life in before being cut. As the topic of evolution comes up you begin to see it is not the survival of the strongest or fittest it is the survival of those that can ADAPT to the changing environment.

 

Permaculture

Permaculture Garden

If you are visiting Costa Rica and staying at one of the many ecolodges then you just might have the chance to see how the food is grown in some of the ecolodges. Many of the ecoldges just make an effort to try and buy the food locally or even grow the food on the land they own. The most common way for an ecolodge to grow some of their basic meals would be a regular organic garden. But it is becoming more and more common to hear about permaculture gardens in Costa Rica which is the true sustainable garden.

You might be asking yourself what is permaculture and how does it different from an organic garden. The difference is seen in a number of reasons but will most likely be noticed in the design. It turns out that all permaculture gardens are organic but not all organic are permaculture.  The permaculture is designed to maximize energy in every aspect. This will be what people notice the most when looking at the permaculture garden and it might not even look like a well kept garden as many of the plants are planted not in rows but as they would be found in nature.

Permaculture is an art that should be involved in ecotourism projects as it is considered not just gardening but a form of learning to live sustainably and allowing your garden to teach you about water management, waste management, respect for local animal life, energy efficiency, understanding climate, and food for the community. These are some of the most important parts of life more so in and around many villages where ecolodges are found.

There are permaculture courses given all over the world and anyone can have a permaculture garden and learn how this system works. The beauty of this is that you do not have to be an educated person or even know how to read. It is argued that these are basic survival instincts that all humans have and just need to be made available through simple instructions of how to live life sustainably.

Whitewater Rafting

Costa Rica is a narrow country that gets plenty of rain and has high mountains. You put all of this together and you have amazing adventure of whitewater rafting through the rainforest. Costa Rica whitewater rafting is some of the best on the planet. when it comes to Costa Rica ecolodges some of the finest are found arriving by raft on the famous Pacuare River. It is not just the Pacaure River that can offer you Costa Rica whitewater rafting tours as the country is filled with rivers that can give you a rafting adventure for all ages. This is a perfect tour for a Costa Rica family vacation allowing you and the family to be completely surrounded by nature.

Rivers for whitewater Rafting Costa Rica

Southern Pacific

-Coto Brus
-Guabo

Central Pacific

-Savegre River

Central Region Caribbean

- Sarapiqui
- Pacuare River
- Pejibaye River
- Reventazon
- Orosi River

Northern Region

- Corobici
- Rio Toro
- Rio Balsa
- Tenorio

This is a list of a few of the commerically rafting rivers in Costa Rica. Most of all rafting companies operate with certified guides approved by the ICT. If you are interesting in a Costa Rica whitewater rafting adventure reserve now.

Carbon Emmisions

Everybody knows that we need to watch our carbon emissions but let’s take a closer look at the present situation.

To put it simply we are past the point where we should to be. This is why it is such a good idea to do a vacation to a Costa Rican ecolodge. Every little bit helps and now according to NASA our planet is at 380ppm (parts per million) and our atmosphere should be at 350ppm. This rise in CO2 is due to human activity through the use of fossil fuels.

There are a number of ways to reduce our use of fossil fuels. Geo-engineering which is one of the most advanced technologies dealing with this.  Some examples would be boats that shoot salt clouds into the air to reflect sunlight and growing more and more algae to help with absorbing and storing more CO2. These are all good, but at the same time just a quick fix until we start looking at how ecolodges live and try and replicate that in our daily lives when we get back from our Costa Rica vacation.

Trees are back to being scientists’ favorite source of storing oxygen and getting excess CO2 out of our atmosphere.  It is now known that trees not only take in CO2 and store large amounts in their trunks but they also dispose of it into the Earth’s surface allowing less to be in the atmosphere. If you really want to offset your carbon footprint the old “let’s plant a tree” moto is the best thing you can do along with being less dependent on fossil fuels. Many governments are taking very slow action in this and Copenhagen 15 in 2009 did not have the result that environmentalists hoped for. After the failure of Cop15 and the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) attempt to convince the larger power nations it has been grass root movements that have led to everyday people making changes. The www.350.org is a movement by Bill Mckibben, an expert scientist on climate change. It is an organization that encourages the world to come together and start realizing the need for changes. It is these changes that the Costa Rican ecolodges are good examples of, in most cases.

It should be stated that recent studies off the coast of California and in the frozen tundra are seeing methane released into the atmosphere. Methane is 20 times more dangerous as a green house gas than CO2. The methane is being released off the coast of California because cracks in the ocean floor from warming. The frozen tundras in Alaska have been storing methane for as long as it has been frozen and the problem is with slight increases in our temperature (2010 was the warmest year on record) this frozen tundra begins to melt and this trapped methane is released. With the rate that the Arctic is melting this could release very large amounts of methane. We hope you are seeing the importance of seeing Costa Rica Eco-lodges not just as a place for exotic adventure but as an example of an educational opportunity of small steps our society can make to live with nature.

This all starts with our carbon footprint. The warming of the planet, CO2 levels, extinctions, methane releases, and climate change are not the problem they are simply symptoms of the problem. The problem is our footprints on the planet. This is why Costa Rica ecolodges serve as a perfect example. You can find almost anywhere ways to cut down your carbon footprint and the bottom line is just to live a little simpler in all aspects of life. By making a Costa Rican ecolodge part of your next Costa Rica family adventure tour it is the perfect way to have low impact and become educated on learning how to live with respect to our planet.

How to Carbon Off-set your Trip to Costa Rica

If you make your trip with itineraries including Costa Rica ecotourism and visiting Costa Rica eco-lodges then you have made a good choice on making a low impact upon your arrival. What you might not have considered is your air travel to arrive to Costa Rica. Do not let this deter you from traveling because it is important that visitors experience and learn to do things in an environmental way and this includes air travel. Many eco-lodges in Costa Rica can offset air travel by making a small donation to FONAFIFO of Costa Rica which is Costa Rica’s official Carbon Credit Foundation.

Along with offsetting your air travel you must also realize that little things ad up and this might include the famous not washing your sheets every night, don’t take soap and shampoo from the hotel if you do not need it, walk when possible, or maybe even try not eating meat every meal, and most importantly allow yourself to be educated which will ultimately lead to a much smaller carbon foot-print in the near future.

Ecotoursim & Ecotoursim Activities

Ecotourism is a phrase that has been used with pretty much no regulations. The definition of ecotourism is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people". Ecotourism is when, taking all aspects of your trip, there is the least amount of impact on the environment and you leave knowledge that can help the local community and take knowledge back that can impact your life when you get home.

Ecotourism is a look into the simple way of life and a look at the what the world would look like if consumerism was not the ruling government of our time. Ecotourism is traveling on simple means but this does not mean you can not enjoy a luxurious Costa Rica eco-adventure. This simply means attention to detail is taken with regards to impacting the environment and local communities.

What ecotourism can do for the local community is often discussed. To be on a true Costa Rica ecotourism adventure you will need to somehow provide financial benefits for local conservation which by just traveling in an ecotourism trip you hopefully are making happen. You also want to build environmental and culture awareness. You want to educate and be educated on the many wonders of the natural area you will be traveling. You want to understand the web of life in the ecology of the area and if at all possible see and understand how the system works to supply and sustain life. With these simple understandings that most nature guides can interpret, you will get a true feel for a Costa Rica ecotourism experience.

Another label of ecotourism is to support the social climate for change in certain areas. Costa Rica is known as an ecotourism paradise. As a visitor from another country, your example and kind suggestions (e.g. telling a child not to litter) can make a positive impression.

Ecotourism Activites

A Costa Rica ecotoursim adventure trip should involve a number of different things from being educated, to maybe doing community service work, or even just relaxing in and around nature.  If any activity can involve a local community you are staying true to your eocotourim roots. This can be simply having a local family prepare fruits or asking to stop at a local place to eat during your activity.

With the idea of ecotourism being as little impact on the environment as possible you can imagine that using alternative energy sources is the way to go.  It is also very important that all local guides are being used. The ecolodge should have this in place upon arrival that guides from the local community have been trained and in return work for the lodge and money essentially goes back into the community.

Hiking

If you are on an ecotourism adventure you can do some Costa Rica hiking in and around your ecolodge and if you are up for some real adventure gear your itinerary in the form of treking where you actually use no car and just hike to your next stop. This limits the different parts of the country you can hike but you can actually do a coast to coast adventure where you stay in local communities and some hotels and never use a car.

Costa Rica Whitewater Rafting

Now if you really want some excitement and some energy from the water cycle then Costa Rica is the perfect spot and whitewater rafting is the perfect activity. With the amount of rain Costa Rica gets every year and mountains that get as high as 13,000ft with a country that is only 50 miles wide you can imagine some of the best rapids in the world. Costa Rica whitewater rafting tours lend itself to some of the most ideal ecotourism activities. You can visit local indian reservations and learn about ancient cultures as you use the force of the water to make your way down the river.

Sea-Kayak

Sea-kayaking can be done with very low impact to the environment and in Costa Rica sea-kayaks are often used in areas of mangroves, calm rivers, and the ocean. These are activities that can be done right from your ecolodge instead of traveling large distances from your lodge.

Birding

If you are staying at an ecolodge chances are if you wake up early in the morning you will have the option of seeing a number of different birds. Even if you are not a birder it is hard not to get excited about seeing some of the most beautiful animals Costa Rica has to offer. Everything from the Quetzal, macaws, and toucans make birding an exciting no impact on the environment activity.

Rappeling or Canyoneering

Looking for a little more adventure than you can try Costa Rica waterfall rappels or making your way down a Costa Rica canyoneering adventure. This is quite the adventure and both involve a bit of adrenaline. Some ecolodges you can hike from the lodge and make your way into a canyon but it invovles getting dirty and usually some vertical intense hikes.

Safari Floats

This is a low adrenaline tour than can be very educational in flor & fauna of the area. The rivers are often good spots to see animals. Safari floats can be done in the mangrove or in calm areas of rivers.

Night Hikes

Night hikes have become famous and if you are into seeing creatures that really dont want to see you than going out for a night hike is your best time for that. You will never want a local guide more than on a night hike as knowing where you are going and what to do when you encounter a large cat or a poisonous snake seems like just another walk in the park for a local guide.

Medicial Plant Tours

Medicinal plant tours can be found at many ecolodges and are a very important role in ecotourism. You are giving back by playing student and allowing the local guides to share their knowledge which just instills it in their community through repitition. When we say "WOW!" on a tour they are energized to go home and share it with their children. Our interest sparks a culture rejuvination which can last for generations to come and in certain rural areas when health care might not be minutes away it is amazing to learn what the locals can do with their native plants.

Local Community Tours

A local community tour can range from anything from you educating yourself in a Costa Rica Spanish schools and living in homestays and experiencing full immersion. A community tour can also be a daily hike through the local village outside of the ecolodge walls where just mingle with the people, learn about the local economics, and environmental conditions.