Keywords: Costa Rica, conservation experts, ecotourism, wildlife
Conservation narratives and the "received wisdom" of ecotourism: case studies from Costa Rica
Ecotourism can be considered to be the "dictated solution" of a conservation counter-narrative that calls for both sustainable use of wildlife and community-based conservation. This paper addresses the promotion of ecotourism by a specific group of wildlife conservation "experts", and the implementation of ecotourism as a conservation strategy at three case-study sites in rural Costa Rica. In 1995, in-depth interviews were undertaken with 42 conservation experts and with 12 key informants at the case-study sites. Findings suggest that conservation experts promote ecotourism because it is preferable to more consumptive uses of wildlife, and because it allows experts to repeat the language of the counter-narrative, while continuing to implement traditional conservation solutions, i.e. establishment of parks and protected areas.