Established in 1987, a group of concerned Talamancan residents came together to address the rapid social, cultural, and economic transformations resulting from the influx of tourism. In 1990, we evolved into a grassroots non-profit organization, officially named Asociación Talamanqueña de Ecoturismo y Conservación, or ATEC (/ah-tek/) for short.
By 1991, the main road leading to the region was paved, making Talamanca more accessible and attracting new businesses to cater to the growing number of tourists. This influx brought private transportation, imported food, non-local guides, swimming pools, and various forms of entertainment. Recognizing the potential loss of local culture and business opportunities, ATEC proactively educated the community about alternatives to selling their family farms and emphasized the significance of preserving the forests and our rich cultural heritage.
In 1992, ATEC developed and implemented the region's first program that trained sixteen local citizens to conduct nature tours throughout the area, followed by more programs in the subsequent years. This initiative not only fostered a sense of pride in the community, but also ensured the preservation of local culture and sustainable tourism practices.