Several years ago we fell in love with a small, wondrous region in Costa Rica’s South Pacific. We returned home to California with one goal in mind; help conserve the Osa Peninsula, the last virgin rainforest on Central America’s Pacific Coast.
After a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised $30,000 and included a media stunt that made the national Costa Rican news in which we dressed up like rainforest animals and danced for 107 hours straight, we returned to the Osa to produce our documentary – 2.5% – The Osa Peninsula.
Spending six months on the ground in the most biologically intense place on Earth helped us understand that the intersection of rainforest conservation and tourism development is a delicate balancing act. How can a place with seemingly infinite natural beauty take advantage of tourism dollars but at the same time help preserve the natural beauty that makes it such an attraction? This is where the Osa Peninsula currently finds itself, at a major crossroads.
The impending construction of an international airport and a “world class” luxury marina are two of the major developments currently facing the Osa. The potential problem is that with an increase in travelers there will be an increase in environmental and social degradation. Our film has resonated with communities and travelers around the world because so many places, across every continent, face a similar threat. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Our film, 2.5% – The Osa Peninsula explores these potential pitfalls and gives voice to many of the local communities. The film suggests that a growing segment of the tourism industry called ‘rural community tourism’ become the main model for the Osa, and potentially much of the developing world. In the words of Gino Biamonte, an Ecotourism Professor at the University of Costa Rica “rural tourism, if implemented correctly, can be a great form of conservation for the Osa Peninsula.”