Costa Rica Sustainability

Natural World Safaris

24 Jun 2015

It is no secret that Costa Rica remains a shining light in terms of biodiversity, conservation and sustainability but what is it that sets them apart from the rest in this regard?

Having spent three weeks recently exploring this fascinating country and having had the opportunity to meet with various guides and lodge owners, I thought I would share my view of what makes Costa Rica such a special case. 

Costa Rica recently went 75 days in a row powered entirely on renewable energy. Thanks to a particularly productive rainy season, the Central American nation was able to run on a mix of hydroelectric, geothermal and wind based power. Whilst this statistic is an excellent success story, it is in itself an isolated event as a result of heavy rainfall which allowed the hydroelectric dams to run so productively. The greater success, in my opinion, is in fact that on a more regular basis Costa Rica manages to produce approximately 90% of its electricity without burning fossil fuels. Let’s put this into perspective for a second, the UK has set itself a target of producing 15% from renewable sources, by 2020, in contrast Costa Rica has targeted being powered 100% by renewable energy by 2021.

But how does this national obsession with sustainability and environmental awareness manifest itself in terms of your choices when deciding to visit Costa Rica?

A system has been developed in Costa Rica that can help you to select services based on their compliance with a model that ensures responsible management of not only the natural world and resources but of cultural protection as well. While we are all familiar with a “star” based system of grading hotels in order to get a good understanding of their levels of luxury, the “leaf” system in Costa Rica works in much the same way to gauge the level of sustainability that a lodge practices. 

One clear differentiation that I would like to make with regards to this system and the more well-known star system is that every lodge, inn, B&B or guesthouse that has as much as a one leaf grading is part of a movement that is working tirelessly towards a more sustainable way of operating. In my opinion, this should be commended; a two leaf rated lodge is putting far more effort into becoming an environmentally positive operation than a two star hotel is in terms of providing a luxury experience. 

With initiatives such as this in place the future remains bright for Costa Rica’s natural world and the wildlife within it. Tourism remains at the very forefront of this future which is why it is such a pleasure to see such positive foundations being laid. 

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