As mass tourism is spreading throughout Latin America, haphazard growth is threatening the environment and local communities. In an effort to mitigate social and environmental impacts an alternative approach towards tourism development utilizes principles of ecotourism and smart growth to balance tourism, community, and environmental goals in order to maintain a healthy environment and contribute to the local community. Located several miles south of the town of Todos Santos in Baja California Sur, Mexico, Las Palmas is a 490 acre site with a mixed use development focused on ecological preservation and the integration of tourism with the local community. Entirely pedestrian oriented, the development includes a 46 unit ecolodge that is connected to a town center composed of a variety of housing types, and features commercial services, selected retail, and fitness and community centers. A 14 acre organic farm weaves through the development providing fresh vegetables to the local market and restaurants. 95% of the site is set aside as permanent natural open space run by research facilities that responsibly guide visitors through its natural beauties. Sustainable practices and research at Las Palmas include an onsite constructed wetland to treat and reuse wastewater, energy-efficient design strategies, a solar harvesting farm, an onsite agricultural center, and ecological regeneration.
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