So, in practice, can ecotourism contribute to conservation? Or is it simply a marketing ploy, a case of environmental opportunism, a buzzword?
Eco-Tourism defined as: “Environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features – both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations. “ –World Conservation Union’s Commission on National Parks and Protected Area—
Generation of Revenue Potential Direct Value: Tourism earned approx. $188, 518 million for developed countries , 4-22% brought in by nature tourism (1995) Potential Indirect Value: Soil conservation of tree cover in India $100-240/ha Carbon Sequestration: $2000-4000/ha Costs to manage w/o eco-tourism $1-3/ha/year recurrently, up to $18.5/ha/year Environmental Damage costs w/eco-tourism $0.1-1.9/ha/year (in Costa Rica and Ecuador)
Environmental Education Some eco-tourism definitions require the philosophy of preservation, (intrinsic vs. extrinsic values) and a biocentricrather than homocentric philosophy. Eco-tourism functions as a means to make people more aware of the natural world with or without such ethics. Eco-tourism promotes the adoption of an environmental ethic through passive and active learning
Local Involvement Increased employment opportunities Local distribution of tourism revenues Improved local infrastructure Proximity to markets Transportation Health care Communications Local capacity building, local empowerment Improved intercultural relations and appreciation
Protection: How Much and Where? At least 12% of terrestrial surface representing all kinds of biomes needs to be conserved according to the World Commission on Environment and Development. Currently 5.2% of the earths surface is protected Eco/nature-tourism accounts for 15% of all tourism 60-70 % of the world’s biodiversity is located in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Congo, Madagascar, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Austraila
Negative Impacts of Protection High opportunity costs due to lost development alternatives and loss of traditional activities Local activities in protected areas are often illegal Conserving extensive tracts of habitat politically difficult in the absence of sustainable revenue generation. Boundaries, alone, may suggest that surrounding areas are free for exploitation
Growth Ecotourism is outpacing conventional tourism by 15% per year. Developing Countries are become more popular destinations Demand for undegraded nature will increase (will either pressure ecosystems or increase value) Costa Rica parks raised admission fees by a factor 0f 10 Visitor numbers plummeted by 44% Total revenues increased substantially
The Role of Ecotourism in Conservation Panacea or Pandora’s Box Oliver Kruger
Meta Analysis of 188 Case Studies How are ecotourism case studies distributed over continents and habitats? What variables are correlated with a study being classified as sustainable by the author? What is the relative importance of these in a multi factor analysis? What are the main (+) and (–) effects reported in case studies? Can these be linked to the main reasons for sustainability?
Criteria for Cases Cases had to be specific to an area and focus on the natural resources of the area Report original observations or data Published in natural or social science journals Purely theoretical studies omitted Cases from 1981 to 2001 Evaluated on ecological criteria alone*
To sustain or not sustain… Ecological sustainability: the current practice does not pose a risk to the area or species in foreseeable future Essentially, does the project meet the minimum requirements to be ecological sustainable?
Variables Considered Year, Author Type (social or natural scientist) Author Affiliation with Institution of Country (yes or no) Continent/Region and Habitat Type (dummy variables = 1 or 0) Type of flagship species (7 categories)
Variables Continued Local Community Involved (yes or no) based on: Revenue Sharing Occurs Decision Power Local Employmenturs Investigation method (Purely observational or repeatable method , 0 or 1) All of these into Multivariate Regression Analysis to evaluate relative importance
Results Of 188 studies, 118 (62.8%) classified as sustainable Significantly higher than % expected by chance, R2 = .65 Dichotomous Dependent Variable (Sustainable or not) Best model had 4 significant predictor variables 4 Variables: Flagship Species Type, Local Community Involvement, Habitat Type, Type of Study To check for model robustness, multiple discriminate analysis done, same variables as predictors, 85% of cases classified correctly
Contribution to Conservation Local community involvement positively correlated Africa, Asia, Central America, and coastline negatively correlated Flagship species had very low explanatory power in this model
Limitations of this Study Publisher bias (more likely to publish + reports) Authors of reports might be bias Definition of sustainable uncertain Obviously limited to ecological sustainability, little indication of economic or cultural sustainability, which could undermine ecological stability in long run
Conclusions Many factors determine the success of ecotourism projects, thus third party groups are needed to audit specific eco-tourism packages for sustainability. Difficult to attain a balance for all stakeholders, all stakeholders must have equal say. Ecotourism, if implemented correctly, can be successful and sustainable in very specific situations Preservation through Ecotourism is specifically viable in Temperate Forests, Tropical Forests, and Savannah
Ecotourism and Conservation are Compatible if…. Local communities are involved in planning and executing conservation programs, they must support the project for success Detailed strategic plans are developed before the project, and monitored throughout (how to market, how many visitors, how resources distributed) Limit the tourist #’s (economically, this will increase demand, high inelasticity, consumers willing to pay) Have a larger plan supported by nation- need for consistency of laws and policies
References Cited Kruger, Oliver, 2005. The Role of Ecotourism in Conservation: Panacea or Pandora’s Box? Biodiversity and Conservation 14:579-600. Ross, Sheryl, and G. Wall, 1999. Ecotourism: Towards Congruence between Theory and Practice. Tourism Management 20:123-132. Stem, Caroline and J. Lassole, D. Lee, and D. Deshler, 2003. How ‘Eco’ is Ecotourism? A Comparative Case Study of Ecotourism in Costa Rica. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 11: 322-346. Wight, Pamela, 1993. Ecotourism: Ethics or Eco-sell? Journal of Travel Research 5: 3-9.