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ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF ECOTOURISM ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM Ecotourism involves traveling pristine and undisturbed ecosystems (Newsome & Moore, 2012). Ecotourism has both negative and more positive impacts on the environment, locals and the society than mass tourism. Enables the local communities make money because it advocates for local ownership as well as the management of nearly or all of the services utilized by the tourists. This is a case study on impacts of ecotourism in Costa Rica. Costa Rica, found in Central America prides itself for 95% literacy levels and high life expectancy (78 years), high social spending in tourism is about 24% of GDP ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM Major ecotourism sites in Costa Rica include found in towns such as San Juan, Matina and Tarcoles and the Carara National Park. Carara National Park sits on 4,700 ha of land Pacific rainforest which is a zones with moist forest and wet forest (McKeone, 2011; Dasenbrock, 2001). It is the most popular because of the biodiversity richness and proximity to San Jose (Dasenbrock, 2001 & McCrory, 2006). It home to several types of species such scarlet macaw and Ara macao which fall in the group of the most endangered species in the area, which are at the verge of extinction due to poaching. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM Benefits or impacts of ecotourism can be positive and or negative. Further classifications of both categories yield environmental, social and economic benefits and/or challenges (Buchsbaum, 2004; Dasenbrock, 2001 & McCrory, 2006). Positive environmental impacts come in the form of protection and preservation of national and private parks and reserves and environmental education. Protection and preservation of national and private parks and reserves is done to protect Costa Rica’s rich floral and faunal estimated to be 850 species of birds, 1260 species of trees, 1200 species of orchid, 270 species of mammals, 361 reptiles and amphibians; and to crown it, Costa Rica has over 35,000 species of insects (Weaver, 1999). ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM Many of ecotourism activities take place in communities or villages which are nearby to the parks, as well as the protected areas. The communities have a huge role to play in the security. Trickle down effects of the well-coordinated and collective protection of national and private reserves are felt in conservation of watersheds and soil. Environmental education takes through different channels including national parks, lodges, operators, private reserves as well as different types of ecotourism related activities. It is the cornerstone of ecotourism philosophy. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM Economic gains of ecotourism, they come in the form of opportunities that come in the form of conserving the tourism sites, the fees charged by tourists to access the areas and payment for the services and goods they consume during their visits. Ecotourism, entails giving nature its value. This is the basic underlying principle of environmental economics. According to Honey (1999) and Weaver (1999), ecotourism attracts more income compared to destructive use land witnessed in Agriculture and cattle rearing, hunting and the widely accepted mass tourism in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is on a global map in ecotourism because its citizens are cognizant of their of the great value of their natural resources. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM Social benefits, are in the form of participation from community members in all the phases of project planning and implementation. Involvement of the locals has promoted ownership of ecotourism projects as well as collective responsibility. This has translated to greater sustainability of development in the areas adjacent to ecotourism sites (Dasenbrock, 2001). The national government has taken it upon itself to educate the planners (from both government and private organizations) the importance of doing so. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM Negative impacts of ecotourism If unmonitored, can be distressing to the environment in what is termed as green-washed travel. Environmentalists argue that letting in tourists, large numbers is responsible for unrestricted development of hotels; this unmonitored growth will eventually put a stress on the very resources. Ecotourism projects tend to be overzealous and concentrate tourists to one area bringing about degradation of the environment. Ability to handle liquid and solid waste management, if strained, can bring about increased pollution, destruction of natural habitats, degradation of forests and uncontrolled erosion (McCrory, 2006; Miller &Tangley, 1991). ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM Conclusion There is need for ecotourism to put emphasis on reduction of negative impacts via institutionalization low-impact construction hotels and other amenities, regulated visitor numbers at a time and practicing of caution and care when interacting with flora and fauna. This will prevent further deterioration of ecosystems to unsustainable lengths like the Manuel Antonio National Park; which is characterized by overcrowding, improper planning, an over-developed neighborhood, and solidwaste disposal difficulties. A degraded environment will turn away visitors because the ecosystem upon which it relies on ceases be attractive. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM Ecotourism is a prefect chance to preserve and our natural ecosystems and biodiversity that will be lost in the event that ecotourism is not practiced (Wall, 1997). ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM References Wall, Geoffrey. (1997) Is Ecotourism Sustainable? Environmental Management. 21(4), 483-491. Miller, K. and L. Tangley (1991). Trees of Life: Saving Tropical Forests and Their Biological Wealth. World Resources Institute, Washington D.C. McCrory, P. (2006). Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints…?. British journal of sports medicine, 40(7), 565-565. Dasenbrock, J. (2001). The pros and cons of ecotourism in Costa Rica. op. cit. Honey, M. (1999). Ecotourism and Sustainable Development. Who owns Paradise? Island Press, Washington D.C. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOURISM Weaver, D. B. (1999). Magnitude of Ecotourism in Costa Rica and Kenya. Annals of Tourism Research, 26(4), 792816. Buchsbaum, B. D. (2004). Ecotourism and sustainable development in Costa Rica. McKeone, E. (2011). Ecotourism in Costa Rica: Environmental Impacts and Management. Newsome, D., & Moore, S. A. (2012). Natural area tourism: Ecology, impacts and management (Vol. 58). Channel View Publications.