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The Equator Prize recognizes groups practicing local sustainable development solutions. The Foundation for Monte Alto Forest Reserve in Costa Rica won an Equator Prize in 2004 as a result of local farmers’ efforts to promote forest conservation in their community in the Guancaste province. The Monte Alto Protected Zone consists of 924-hectares dedicated to reforestation and regeneration. Local government and leadership manage the reserve, and farmers’ monthly contributions allow for purchase of more land parcels. In addition, ecotourism and other alternative livelihoods minimize the community’s heavy dependence on forest cultivation. The ecotourism initiative resulted from an increased demand for visits to the reserve from students, scientists, researchers, government members, and tourists. This generated a need for a variety of services including lodging, food, guided tours, and informational activities. Therefore, the foundation created a platform, which allowed family businesses to meet these ecotourism needs. Now, the area boasts a museum, several lodges, and an information center. The ecotourism industry in this region provides a source of alternative livelihoods for community members, as well as finances to purchase more land and expand the protected area. To read more about this case study, check out this link.
In an effort to create an ecotourism industry, what opportunities and obstacles need consideration? Do you know of other successful examples of ecotourism in promoting alternative livelihoods?0
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