Sustainabilty – from rivers to reforestation

In today’s conference, speaker Rafael Gallo outlined his challenges and successes with protecting Costa Rica’s rivers and his evolving environmental activism.

Beginning as a white water river rafting operation, Gallo began with local tourists. In 1985, Gallo and his brother began a campaign to save Costa Rica’s rivers.

“We had to protect the rivers that gave us income,” he said.

In 1986, the brothers were able to delay the building of a dam on one of the rivers for six weeks. Ultimately this forced the corporation to do an Environmental Impact Review, a step they’d ignored.

From there, Gallo bought land along the river, with plans to restore land that had been deforested. He even hired a farmer to help reforest who’d originally cleared the land of trees!

Gallo worked with the surrounding communities. Recognizing the importance of providing financial benefits that empower local people, he has helped turn them into eco-preneurs, some with franchises of this river rafting company, helping them become self-sufficient.

His eco-activism continued to evolve and grow, creating a foundation to successful lobby against another river dam.

Always ahead of the environmental game, Gallo was the winner of the 1st National Geographic Eco-Tourism award. His re-forestation projects include planting over 10,000 trees on land that had been deforested.

Gallo is currently working with the country of Bhutan to help them establish river rafting as a viable sustainable recreational tourist service.

Sustainable architecture's impact


Bruno StagnoYesterday, renowned architect Bruno Stagno spoke during the sustainable tourism confrerence about the importance of creating sustainable architecture that adapts to the local climate.

Stagno, winner of numerous international awards including from the Dominican Republic and Holland, stressed the need to recognize and incorporate Nature in architectural design, or, as he calls it, bioclimatic architecture.

Stagno said that 50 percent of the world’s existing forests are located in tropical areas. Of the UN’s membership, 108 countries in are in these areas.

“We have to develop guidelines foe eco-development,” Stagno said.

Stagno is currently working on projects to bring forests to urban settings, particularly in San Jose, Costa Rica.

More soon.

Update from Conference on Sustainable Tourism

forests-south-central-costa-ricaSpeaker Jackeline Lopez of Mapache Rent A Car spoke of their “passionate reforestation” program.They work with mature forests, not with planting new forests, she said.

They also are involved with a new co-generation plant for waste. Prior to its opening, in 2007 saw the annual generation of 22 tons of waste. The impact of the new plant was dramatic – a 50 percent waste reduction.

A Costa Rican waste cogenereation plant

A Costa Rican waste cogenereation plant

This is a clean process, with continual monitoring of emitted gasses. The process is certified and the resultant waste is traceable. 

The company has two commitments:

  1. to reduce GHG emissions
  2. energy savings

There are eight such facilities across Costa Rica. The company has received numerous recognitions from Costa Rica’s Ministers of Energy and of the Environment for their successful environmental efforts.

More to come.

Costa Rica's Sustainable Tourism Conference Begins

Planet People Peace logoOpening ceremonies of the first annual Planet People Peace conference on sustainable tourism took place tonite. The evening was an elegant setting filled with dignitaries, music, dancers and inspiration.

Costa Rica’s growing number of environmental achievements and successes were outlined, including that more than 26 percent of the country is under some sort of protection for conservation.

This country of four million people has a commitment to conserve its natural resources, said Minister of Tourism Flores. And, he added, almost 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity exists in Costa Rica alone!

CANECO logoCosta Rica, said Glen Jampol (President of CANAECO, the National Chamber of Ecotourism), is to be a world  leader in eco-tourism.

“The first thing people recognize about Costa Rica is eco-tourism,” said Dr. Kelly Bricker, Associate Professor at the University of Utah and Chair of the International Ecotourism Society. It’s something “for the rest of the world to live up to,” she said.

The conference, which  begins in full tomorrow morning, is centered around the four elements of Nature- earth, wind, fire and water. These combine the four essential elements of life, said Minister Flores.

The  evening’s entertainment was an exciting display of this.  Dance troup Symbiosis combined interpretive dance, music and video, along with a fire twirling display that held you riveted in your seat, vividly capturing Nature’s four aspects. 

Protecting the environment is a government-wide priority in Costa Rica, which has a goal of becoming a carbon neutral counry by 2021. Now THAT”S the way to become a world leader!

Organic Valley – more than a good brand

Organic Valley 2While attending Bioneers last week, I got to met some of the folks  from Organic Valley Family of Farms, a Bioneers co-sponsor. The “Food and Farming Banquet” they hosted Saturday night featured delicious organic food provided by various local farmers.

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Youth Eco-activists use media to spread their environmental message

Bioneers LogoYesterday, at the Bioneers conference,  a group of teenagers showed that being young doesn’t stop getting the message out about environmental issues.

Five high school students showed how a bit of creativity and using social media can make an impact.

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Speaking for the Rainforest

Surui ChiefAmong the speakers at the opening sessions of this morning’s Bioneers conference, perhaps the one that moved me most was by Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, chief of the Surui (pronounced suhr’ ye) tribe of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.

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