Have you ever thought about supporting wildlife conservation with a vacation?
International Bird Rescue’s Conservation & Education Specialist, Angie Trumbo, spent part of her summer learning about how you can do just that. Angie is currently studying for her Master’s Degree in Biology with a focus on avian conservation through Miami University’s Project Dragonfly. This summer, her coursework took her to Costa Rica to learn firsthand about ecotourism and the impact it can have on both conservation and local communities. Ecotourism is traveling to natural places to experience and learn more about them, support their conservation, and lift up the local communities in those areas.
Costa Rica has made great strides in recent decades toward transitioning their economy from one that incentivized deforestation to one that is based on tourism and conservation. During her trip, Angie and her classmates had the opportunity to learn about Resplendent Quetzal conservation efforts in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, nesting sea turtle conservation at Estación Las Tortugas, forest conservation efforts being made by the indigenous Bribri community at Yorkin Village, and the wildlife rehabilitation efforts of Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center.
Ecotourism is a great way to explore the world in a responsible way. Not all ecotourism programs are created equally, though, so it is important to do your research before booking a trip. As you look into various stays and excursions, here are some helpful questions to ask:
- Does your trip employ local guides?
- Is the program certified? (Learn more about how to gauge the value of ecotourism certifications from the Global Ecotourism Network).
- Is the impact on wildlife minimized? (No touching or selfies with wildlife, using blinds and maintaining safe distances from wildlife).
- Do your accommodations conserve resources like electricity and water?
- Do they serve locally sourced food?
- Does a portion of the program fee go towards conservation programs?
Tips on Traveling Sustainably:
Ecotourism isn’t just about the places that you visit, it’s also about you and the impact you make at a destination. Here are some tips to reduce your impact when traveling:
- Pack reusable water bottles
- Use chemical-free soaps, sunscreens, and other products
- Engage respectfully with locals
- Do some research before you go
- Offset your carbon emissions with donations to conservation organizations
- Minimize the amount of trash you create, and consider packing it back home with you