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Selva Verde's Certificate of Sustainable Tourism



About CSTCST certification blog

The Sustainable Tourism Program (CST) was designed for tourism businesses to comply with a sustainability model that ultimately improves the way natural and social resources are used. It provides guidelines for participating businesses that strive to provide activities and services that have minimal impact on the surrounding natural areas. CST is open to all companies within the tourism sector that wish to participate throughout Costa Rica.

The CST logo tells travelers that Selva Verde manages a number of sustainably sound practices from saving water and electricity and avoiding harmful chemicals to educating its employees and community on preserving natural resources. Participating businesses must answer 308 questions divided into four modules: business management; social, economic, and cultural impact; environmental impact; and specific indicators. The thorough application process examines the business operations in each of these areas and requires data for evidence of sustainable practice.

In previous years, a company’s status was measured on a scale from one to five leaves — or levels — with five leaves valued as the highest level of achievement. The rating reflects the degree of compliance with the four modules of the CST sustainability model. This year, the program is using an updated classification scale that uses two levels, ‘Basic’ or ‘Elite.’

Escuela CST

Selva Verde’s progress: 2008 - 2020

Over the course of nearly ten years, Selva Verde has participated in the program, consistently achieving 3-4 leaves. Marco Gasparoli of the Selva Verde team was determined to learn about the new rating system to effectively communicate Selva Verde’s sustainable practices. “I promised to get the best result with the new CST 2.0 program,” Gasparoli said. He enrolled in workshops provided by the Costa Rica Tourism Institute to understand the requirements for the new classification system. “The effort was rewarded with a score of 100% achieving the ‘Elite’ classification.” The certificate was awarded this year and is renewed every two years.

“The result of our attitude is reflected in the Elite classification of the CST program,” Gasparoli said. “In the course of more than 30 years, Selva Verde has always followed the same philosophy that Giovanna Holbrook has taught us: conserve and protect our forests, help nearby communities, and teach tourists why we should respect nature.”