Vivanco: Green Encounters - Chapter 03
"So where is this famous tropical deforestation that we hear so much about in the U.S.""
"Everywhere. This was once a continuous rain forest. The Costa Ricans
cut it down to create farmland. That's why they saved the forests in
- Exchange between a North American tourist and a North American biology student, on the bus to Monte Verde, mid 1990s
Brief as it is, this exchange I overheard on the public bus to Monte Verde illustrates
one of the central reasons environmental activists have given for their
efforts to formally protect Monte Verde cloud and rain forests. That is, the threat
to endangered habitats and species posed by destructive Costa Rican land management
practices. Motivating the question is the premise that deforestation has
to be happening in order to be fully appreciated, since the tourist would not have
asked if he saw it in front of him. It is an attitude at least partially conditioned
by North American and European media images in which tropical forests are
commonly represented as being cut and burned. This idea is confirmed by what
the tourist told me: such media images have always depressed him, so he came to
Costa Rica to see what tropical forest loss is like first hand.