ITSA Ecotourism Turtle Conservation Project

Located along the south Pacific coast of Nicaragua near the Refugio de Vida Silvestre la Flor, the ITSA ecotourism project is envisioned as a development built in equilibrium with nature, and will provide visitors opportunities to discover and support the endangered and threatened sea turtle populations at the site. Its location along the Ruta del Sur, which incorporates a large network of ecotourism activities, will reinforce its role as a visitor center for the whole area. Furthermore, the project will provide the local community with an economic future based in the preservation of the area’s natural resources. The project will be the product of collaboration between local communities and sustainability initiatives in the region, resulting in community-owned and operated businesses.


The site is located near one of seven beaches in Central America that experiences sea turtle arribadas, a phenomenon where up to 40,000 female sea turtles arrive on the beach en masse to lay their eggs. Since a variety of human activities drastically reduce the number of turtles that survive to adulthood, a central goal of the project is to help efforts in the protection and conservation of these species.


  • The project will incorporate a visitor center, café, a discovery center/museum, an ecotourism base of operations, laboratories, lecture halls, classrooms and a guest ecolodge, and will provide an atmosphere that is conducive to cultural and scientific exchange.


  • The design will utilize materials that are produced locally, such as piedra cantera (stone masonry), bamboo, wood and thatched palms, as well as light tensile structures. The combination of materials will produce a dynamic ensemble through the tension between grounded and aerial materials, between traditional and high-tech construction, and between earth-colored and brightly tinted finishes. Those combinations will convey a lively community-based ecotourism center.


  • There will be a seamless transition between indoor areas and the surrounding environment. In experiencing the space, visitors can choose between areas of direct sun and shade, with tensile canopies overhead unifying the various building shells, taking its visitors under its wings in protection from the elements.


  • Cross-cultural collaborations between local communities and its visitors, volunteers and scientists will establish this community-owned and operated ecotourism operation as a contributor to the local economy, while securing the turtle arribada.


The ITSA Ecotourism Project will be a catalyst for community-based ecotourism and a model of ecologically-conscious development in support of endangered sea turtles and other native species in Nicaragua and beyond.

Consultants and Collaborators:

  • El Ministerio del Ambiente y los Recursos Naturales
  • Paso Pacifíco
  • Cooperativa Jose Adán Calderón
  • ITSA: Italianic Inversiones Sociedad Anónima
  • Cooperativa de Ostras de Ostional


ITSA Ecotourism Turtle Conservation Project


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