Rainforest Adventures has undertaken a number of initiatives to help protect the environment, engage with local residents, and educate guests on the importance of sustainability practices. And, many of these initiatives started during to construction of the first park, Costa Rica Atlantic, in 1994.
“When we decided to build Rainforest Adventures, Costa Rica Atlantic, we had two choices: cut down trees to build our aerial tram experience, or find a way to preserve the pristine environment,” says Joaqun von der Goltz, president of Rainforest Adventures. “While it was complicated and expensive to construct the aerial tram without removing trees, for me, the decision was easy – we had to protect the rainforest. Otherwise, why build a park to help educate visitors on the importance of rainforest conservation?”
In addition to these programs, Rainforest Adventures has a commitment to buying local, and encouraging their guests to do the same. The parks have an agreement with local artisans in which they are invited to showcase their crafts for sale to guests. And, more than 95 per cent of food and beverage available for park guests is derived from local products produced by local farmers.
With a focus on social sustainability, Rainforest Adventures employs about 150 local, multilingual guides at their parks (many of these guides once made a living by hunting or by cutting down trees in the rainforests). Each guide adds depth and colour to the visitor experience by sharing insider information about the region’s native plants and animals and about local customs, cultures and traditions.
Rainforest Adventures is committed to minimizing their overall impact on the environment, while encouraging their guests to take the in-park methods and apply them at home. Both Costa Rican parks have education centres where guests can learn about conservation and the importance of preserving the world’s natural resources. Understanding that youth are future policymakers, Rainforest Adventures pays special attention to this demographic by offering a number of all-age, family-centric experiences, activities and exhibitions that are designed to empower and educate youth about the environment.
Continuing their focus on youth, Rainforest Adventures developed a Youth Leadership Program for Sustainable Development at the Atlantic park. Park collaborators work with students who attend the five schools within the buffer zone of adjacent Braulio Carrillo National Park to inspire and encourage them to improve and protect the surrounding rainforest and its animal inhabitants.
“We continue to look for ways to further expand our commitment to sustainability,” says Eugenia Solano, general manager of Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica. “As a team, we are always looking at ways to reduce our consumption, communicate the importance of conservation to our guests, and work more closely with our local residents.”
And, with the commitment to sustainability, government and NGOs have taken notice. Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica Pacific has been recognized for its sustainability by the country’s government, earning an Ecological Flag, a Blue Flag, a Decree of National Interest for the Republic of Costa Rica and Certification for Sustainable Tourism. And, after a lengthy, two-year process, EARTH University officially certified the Atlantic park as carbon neutral, Costa Rica’s first tour operation to receive a carbon neutral title.
In 2012, both Costa Rican parks (Pacific and Atlantic) were verified by Rainforest Alliance – a standard recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council – achieving the highest rating possible. To meet this rating and verification, both parks were required to create a sustainable management plan and to undergo an on-site verification to evaluate the practices put in place.
With tour operations in Panama and award winning, adrenaline-inducing adventure parks in Costa Rica (both Pacific and Atlantic), Saint Lucia, Jamaica and Mexico, Rainforest Adventure tours serve as ecotourism attractions, nature reserves and wildlife refuges. Since 1994, the company has been combining unique rainforest adventures such as aerial trams, bobsleds and zip line rides, with exceptional, multi-lingual naturalist guides, giving each guest an educational, adventurous, sustainable and unforgettable rainforest experience.
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