“Nature belongs here, just take the memories” is a campaign promoted by the Fundación Neotrópica in Costa Rica, that aims to raise awareness about the indispensable role of marine resources in their ecosystems and the consequences for the environment when they are extracted.
Shells, corals, stones, among others, are often removed of their natural ecosystem by national and foreign tourists who see them as "souvenirs". Studies found a correlation between the increase of tourism during the summer and the decrease of shells. In some cases, when tourism increases by 30%, shells are reduced by 60%.
These marine resources carry out an essential role in the life of various species on the beach and when they are extracted, biodiversity becomes damaged. Once outside its environment, the resource loses its natural bond and does not fulfill its mission in the life cycle of its ecosystem.
Why are they important?
Shells and corals provide calcium carbonate to the oceans, an element that stabilizes the acidity of water. A balanced ecosystem is what preserves marine life and what increases its resilience against climate change.
Shells are part of a long food chain where they function as a home for hundreds of species such as mollusks, crabs, sponges, seagrasses, seaweed and other small organisms. These species serve as food for other animals, like fish, and when you remove them it alters the natural balance of marine life.
Shells, corals and other marine resources act as protectors of the coast because they help control erosion. Without shells, the next time someone visits a beach there could be less sand space to rest.
The Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) confiscates marine resources nearly every day from tourist's luggage. It is extremely difficult to return them to their respective ecosystem, because it is almost impossible to know where the shell, coral or stone was taken from.
In 2015, the University of Costa Rica and the Parque Marino del Pacífico quantified the confiscated marine resources at Juan Santamaría. The amount exceeded ten tons among shells, snails, corals and starfish, among others.
In March 2019, the airport estimated that they stored about 40 sacks full of marine resources that weighed 20kg each. Because it is almost impossible to return them to their ecosystem, those shells must be crushed for construction material or buried under the ground following Costa Rica's Ministry of Environment protocol.
According to the most recent study from the Public Library of Sciences of California, India, the Philippines, Indonesia and countries around the Caribbean are the most affected by the extraction of shells and stones.
For more than 30 years the Fundación Neotrópica has partnered with communities to protect the environment through environmental education programs where we teach that, together, small actions become large.
With “Nature belongs here, just take the memories”, the money raised during the campaign will be used to finance bio-literacy programs for children from schools located in areas with socio-environmental vulnerability.
You can help stop the extraction of marine resources from beaches with a donation to the Fundación Neotrópica’s environmental programs.
With your donation, children will learn to take care of the beaches in Costa Rica and the entire world.
The three schools that will benefit from the “Nature belongs here, just take the memories” campaign are schools locates in Patarrá, Tirrases and one speciall education center.
Through educational workshops imparted by the Fundación Neotrópica team of marine biologists, girls and boys will have the opportunity to learn while having fun. In the near future, on both national and international beaches, children will be the best allies against climate change.
For “Nature belongs here, just take the memories”, the Fundación Neotrópica teamed up with three national design brands to offer you exclusive products that capture the best memories of your visit in Costa Rica.
In exchange for your donation, you can take home one of these exclusive products where a percentage of the proceeds will finance environmental education programs for children.
Such products are listed bellow.