Friday, June 4, 2010

Cataviña and the Water-collecting Cacti: rainwater harvesting

Near the town of Cataviña, central Baja, in one of the most ecologically diverse deserts in the whole world, the Valle de los Cirios.  Dark silhouettes of 40-foot-tall cardon cacti lay in front of the bright setting sun.

The blooming desert was buzzing earlier with bees and hummingbirds, but they are now asleep.  A lush desert flora surrounds me. Although the word “lush” is usually reserved for green jungles — not dry, bleak deserts — this is no ordinary desert. Despite being water-starved, it is vibrant and colorful, and offers an impressive and natural lesson in water management.

[This post is from the Voyage of Kiri, an educational trip about sustainable development and climate adaptation in Mexico's coastline. For more information see]

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Certification: a trendy but tricky practice

When Coastal EcoVentures first started thinking about how to positively impact tourism development practices in coastal Mexico, one obvious option was to develop a certification standard.

In a world of greenwashing, certifications can be powerful and important signals of quality to consumers, while providing a valuable point of differentiation and isolating mechanism to businesses in crowded markets in which every competitor seems to be making green claims.

But actually securing the intended environmental benefits via certification is harder than it may seem, as evidenced by a new study from RFF that finds only limited evidence of successful certification schemes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Balancing tourists and turtles in Costa Rica

Turtles are often a draw in coastal tourism destinations. As popularity grows, though, pressure to develop more tourist accommodations creates a conflict with the need to protect the turtles’ sensitive beach habitats.

A recent paper in Conservation and Society – ‘Tourists and turtles: Searching for a balance in Tortuguero, Costa Rica’ – examines several aspects of ecotourism in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. The results raise some interesting questions about balancing the trade-offs between access to ecotourism destinations and protecting the very natural resources that tourists have traveled to see.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Doing large tourism projects sustainably

While Coastal EcoVentures is focused on small- and medium-sized tourism developments (what other choice does a new, small fund have?), it’s worth taking a quick look at one of the largest new developments in the world.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Vineyards in the Desert: groundwater issues

David Dalgoff at winery
Instead of going directly to Ensenada along the coast, we veered inland and went upriver, to the main wine and olive growing region in Baja: the Valle de Guadalupe. The valley has the rocky appearance of a desert, which makes the vineyards sprouting along the Ruta de Vino (the Wine Route) seem like a string of oasis. I wondered, where does the water come from?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Joining the responsibility revolution

This week we met Jeff Hollender, a successful and inspiring leader who is currently building support for the American Sustainable Business Council. It was interesting to hear about Jeff’s thoughts on the ASBC’s role in giving voice to all the small businesses who want Congress to act on the climate bill and other important issues; the latest round of corporate malpractice and malfeasance; and what it takes to be a truly regenerative business.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Voyage of Kiri: how climate might affect Mexico's coast

[Kristian Beadle, a Coastal EcoVentures project manager, is traveling along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, visiting sustainable tourism projects and protected areas, to understand how climate change might affect the coastline in Mexico. We will follow his blog here during the next several months.]