This week I am in Costa Rica with various CI colleagues. We are taking part in a workshop and are lucky enough to be staying along a protected national rainforest. This protected land is part of a growing effort by the Costa Rican government to safeguard its most precious treasure: tropical rainforests.
As I walk through the dense jungle, I am wandering along narrow paths that are used by the various indigenous peoples who live nearby and consider this jungle their home. Although today is a rainy day and the rainforest (today very aptly named) is covered in a heavy fog, it’s difficult to adequately describe the beauty that surrounds me. It’s not hard to see why Costa Ricans are arguably considered the happiest people on the planet.
Often protecting these rainforests is seen simply as a way to lower climate change pollution—a carbon balancing act. By putting a price tag on the forest, we hope to make the forests worth keeping. It’s an important argument, as these rainforests are critical to fighting global climate change as well as providing multiple secondary benefits such as medicines, food and fresh water. It’s sad to think that we don’t just save these forests simply because we need their beauty—they enrich our lives by their existence alone.
I can’t say how many times I have talked to Americans from all walks of life who rave about a wonderful vacation they had in some country covered in rainforests. They describe in detail the scents, the animals, the beauty—I wish we remembered this when protection of these forests by our leaders is being discussed and sometimes dismissed. Maybe it’s time we work to save these rainforests just because it’s the right thing to do?