• Fundacion Rios Tropicales (FRT) is a non-profit environmental organization we established in 1994 to assist in the preservation, protection and restoration of the rivers, streams and watersheds of Costa Rica.
• FRT's main rivers of focus are the leading recreational attractive rivers of Costa Rica's tourism industry. These rivers include: Rio Pacuare, Rio Reventazon, Rio Sarapiqui, Rios Savegre and Rio Corobici. These four rivers, like many others, are threatened by massive hydroelectric projects, as well as constant contamination and pollution.
• Most locals are unaware of their direct impacts on the rivers and the benefits of keeping them clean, clear and free flowing. International adventurers and professional boaters frequently visiting these rivers are also unaware of the threatened status of these rivers and the likelihood that they will no longer be navigable in the very near future.
• The FRT is now focusing on the purchase of forest lands that are threatened or that can be purchased for total protection.
• FRT also launched elementary environmental programs for rural Costa Rican school children.
• We work tirelessly to ensure that we are constantly adhering to “Leave No Trace” ethics and practices in all of our tours and expeditions. We are able to ensure that all products, including foodstuffs, on our trips are either recycled, composted (at our Rios Tropicales Lodge), or disposed of properly at the end of every trip that we run.
• From our company’s leadership team to each frontline staff person, we believe that attention to the small and daily details add up to make the long-term difference for our environment and communities.
• Our Rios Tropicales Lodge on the Pacuare River is a clean energy powered, green construction jungle “resort” managed by the original landowners, the Obando family.
• Our Lodge is a model of sustainable tourism practices with recycling, composting, local employment, and collaboration with the nearby El Tigre community. Visit Rios Tropicales Lodge for details on the history of the Lodge, how it was built, and operations today.
• Fondo Nacional de Financiamiento Forestal (FONAFIFO): We teamed up with FONAFIFO to reforest areas within our reserve in order to produce more oxygen to offset pollution in other areas which leads to global warming.
• United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP).
• Today we have almost 2,000 acres in our private reserve (home of our Rainforest Lodge as well) and reforestation project.
We are proud participants in the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) worldwide tree planting campaign: Under the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign.
In this campaign, people, communities, business and industry, civil society organizations and governments from all countries are encouraged to enter tree planting pledges online with the objective of planting at least one billion trees worldwide each year. UNEP
Our original goal was 5,000 trees in 2008; we surpassed that in May 2008 and upped our goal to 10,000 that summer. We reached 8,000 trees planted by late 2008 and have increased our goal for the third time to 15,000 trees for the Planet. At present time we have continued and have planted and constantly maintaining up to 50,000 trees. Our big planting date during the Rafting World Championships in October 2011 was a total success, this was a huge boost for the World Championship to become Carbon neutral. We have doubled our goal to plant more trees in 2011, thanks to E.A.R.T.H. University, clients, local communities, volunteers, participants at the World Rafting Championship, public and private entities to everyone that is helping us make up areas that had been deforested.
• Red Costarricense de Reservas Naturales Privadas: Rafael Gallo, co-founder of Rios Tropicales, now serves on the board of directors as President of this renowned NGO. Its main purpose is to join all the private reserves in Costa Rica and the rest of Central America.
While government organizations and NGOs are certainly important to help Costa Rica protect its natural resources, gaining the partnership of local and indigenous communities to truly support and self-monitor wildlife and forest protection, including those who were the very people who had been poaching and deforesting the land, is the biggest achievement of Rios Tropicales’ efforts. Without such grassroots ownership and involvement, many valuable and well-meaning efforts at environmental protection ultimately fail.
The leadership taken by Rios Tropicales in Costa Rica has raised critical awareness of the need to implement sustainable business practices and environmental protection programs with community partnerships. In addition to Rios’ involvement with the FRT, FONFIFO, and the UNEP, Rios has invigorated the environmental agenda of the International Rafting Federation (IRF), of which Rios co-founder Rafael Gallo is also currently the President. The IRF’s primary purpose is to promote the Rafting World Championship and international Guide Training and Certification Programs, Rafael has been able to focus the organization also on ideal river use and river protection around the world, through his position as chairman of the Recreational and Conservation Committee.
For more information on the IRF, please see International Rafting Federation Replicable Sustainable Tourism Models
Rios Tropicales is currently in the early phases of working to help other countries implement similar sustainable tourism development models to what we has implemented here in Costa Rica. More on that as it unfolds!