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The Changing Role of Costa Rica’s National Park Rangers

Poas Volcano National Park in Costa Rica Central America
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Have you visited ever visited a Costa Rica National Park during your vacation? Statistics released by the Costa Rica Tourism Institute (I.C.T) show that approximately 86% of visitors to this beautiful country take a trip to a Costa Rica National Park.  Experts agree that thanks to increased visitation and Costa Rica’s commitment to sustainable tourism the traditional role of the country’s park rangers has diversified.

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The changing face of Costa Rica’s National Parks

Carlos Vinicio Cordero, Regional Director of the Conservation Area for the Central Pacific (ACOPAC) explains that the role National Park Rangers play has changed dramatically in the past five to ten years.  ” In the beginning park rangers focused specifically on protecting the areas from invasion and from poaching. Costa Rica is now considered an icon of conservation and park rangers are now required to receive in-depth training on sustainable tourism,” explained Vinicio.

Costa Rica’s National Parks and the creation of a biological corridor

In an interview with La Nacion on the 18th September, Daniel Janzen, the American ecologist explained the importance of bio-developing Costa Rica’s National Parks.  Some people consider Costa Rica’s National Parks to be like museums but perhaps it is necessary to change this way of thinking, moving towards a more sustainable way of making the most out of these protected areas.  ” A National Park is bio-developed, in the sense that you can mark off certain areas that people can visit and other areas, due to their vulnerability, that can only be accessed by those with the relevant knowledge and permissions,” said Janzen.

The award winning ecologist explained that the role of the Park Ranger  or” guardaparque” has now changed. ” In the conservation area

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of Guanacaste, the term, ‘ guardaparques” no longer exists. What we have are a team of professionals that function as eco tourism guides, investigative assistants, police and forest firemen.  To explain, each team member has their own profession, which is dynamic and productive, which they carry out in the protected areas of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica tourism helps country’s National Parks

For Vinicio, It is important the country begins interconnecting Costa Rica’s National Parks, to encourage not only biodiversity but also more visits to areas that are less frequented by tourists.  The introduction of the innovative conservation project, ” Friends of the National Parks Club,” is just one example of how Costa Rica tourism is helping improve facilities in National Parks. Costa Rica’s Friends of the National Parks Club began in September 2010 and has successfully raised a total of $106,744. The National Park project aims to raise  $1 million within the next five years and these funds will be used to install trails and washrooms and give training to the park rangers.

·         Poas Volcano National Park is the most visited National Park in Costa Rica largely due to its proximity to San Jose.

·         Manuel Antonio National Park is  Costa Rica’s most visited National Park by international tourists.