Photographer Greg Basco talks about what it jeans to be green.
After his getting his first taste of Costa Rica in 1991 working with the peace Corps, Greg became director of a non-profit organization working with sustainable development programs within local communities in the north or the country. Today he is a photographer and tourism entrepreneur running personalized nature photography tours.
What does true ecotourism men to you?
The ultimate definition would be small lodge thatís owned by a group of local farmers and where all of the money gets invested back into community and conservation-related projects. Itís tough to say if something is really sustainable or not because all it takes is for huge new hotel or a bunch of smaller places to open that havenít any regard for the environment. Itís not that big places are inherently bad, but if they donít do things right the impact is a lot bigger. What I found in my research for my doctoral dissertation is that big or small; both kinds of lodges can benefit conservation and communities in a positive way depending on the orientation of the business owners and local leaders.
People here want to see tourism continue to grow, but the arrival of more people always seems to herald environmental degradation.
The conundrum for ecotourism is, how much can it grow? What is a problem is when places use the Ďecoí label and arenít really doing things that are in accordance with what that means. There is a famous place somewhere in the Caribbean thatís always the example for this kind of thing. There was a lagoon with phosphorescent algae and some guy put a hotel there and started dumping sewage into the lake. It wasnít managed well and all the algae died. The exact thing that led to the birth of ecotourism to that area was what actually killed it. Thatís just a short but telling anecdote.
Where have you seen eco tourism being managed well?
Monteverde is held up as a success story but it is a place thatís had so much growth that theyíve had trouble really holding up the eco-label. I think you get about a quarter of a million people that go through there now and so there area lot of interest groups and complex issues. For example, some people want to pave roads because they want better access to the outside world, but there are others who donít want to precisely because it world, but there are others who donít want to precisely because it would bring in too many people would stay fewer nights and so it would bring in too many people, or in the case of some of the owners of hotels, because people would stay fewer nights and so it would cut into their business, It becomes really complex and all sides of the issue have a place. What has to happen is responsible planning by community associations and local tourism chambers.
How do you the pictures that you take?
Ecolodges are great places for photography because a lot of them have nice feeders or they plant a lot of fruit trees on the grounds that attract birds in settings that are amenable to photography and where you can actually get fairly close to them.
Nature photography is all about percentages and if youíre planning to walk though a national park the chances of seeing a toucan at eye level in nice light with an unobstructed view are really now. You have a much personality. Smaller subjects have an attraction because most people donít really notice them, but when you focus in on them and really capture the detail, they make quite an impact.