What is the Tropical Ecotourism Adventures Project?
Tourism is the largest industry in Costa Rica, and contributes greatly to ecologically sustainable economic growth. Forest canopy ecotourism – with canopy ziplines bringing thrills to forest visitors – has provided potentially sustainable alternatives to cattle farming and coffee growing. As ecotourism grows, the opportunity to provide scientifically sound information as a part of the adventure experience can also increase. The Research Ambassador Program joined with Selvatura Park, a leading canopy walkway and zipline operation in Monteverde, Costa Rica, to provide interpretive materials for eco-tourists.
What issues does this project address?
In the past, no educational materials have been available to visitors at Selvatura. In April 2005, Research Ambassador representatives visited Selvatura and met with the Director. The Director agreed that providing information for visitors would enhance their experience. This is especially critical because many of the guests at this “canopy adventure” facility do not visit the more traditional natural history and conservation oriented parks and wildlife centers in the country.
What were the outcomes?
Results from a preliminary survey indicate that over half of park visitors would like to have more educational materials available. We produced a brochure to describe the general ecology of the forest at Selvatura. Currently, all visitors to Selvatura Park are provided with this brochure when they purchase tickets for the canopy tours at Selvatura.
The next steps of the project include the creation of signs to be posted on the bridges, each discussing a different aspect of canopy ecology. Other components include the creation of text and content for the Selvatura website, to write and publish a field guide aimed specifically at the biota found in the Selvatura forest, and creation of an up-to-date training manual for guides hired at Selvatura. In the longer term, the Selvatura administration wishes to hire a resident naturalist and create a lecture series about forest ecology, to be held on Selvatura grounds.