Costa Rica is famous for having only 0.03 percent of the Earth's landmass, but 6 percent of its biodiversity. As a result, ecotourism is a heavy hitter in Costa Rica's economy, and is often cited as a key to the country's economic development.
Costa Rica had a head start, having developed policies favorable to ecotourism as early as the 1990s. Even so, the country struggles with to balance its current status as a model for ecotourism with a history of unsustainable environmental management. For example, one of the country's primary sources of hydroelectric power, Lake Arenal, has diverted an entire watershed to the opposite side of the Continental Divide in an effort to bring water to the semi-arid Guanacaste province. Such initiatives were undertaken before strong environmental regulations came into effect, and the ecological damage is still unclear. Even so, Costa Rica is often lauded for a high level of renewable energy production sourced from the very same lake.
One example of ecotourism is the Arenal Sky Walk, where visitors can take a hike that crosses numerous hanging bridges, each offering a rare view of the rainforest canopy. Epiphytes, such as those seen along this tree branch, are rarely seen as close.