It is important to understand the developments of past trade routes in Asia to understand the present status of conservation of natural resources
The river basins which guided the trade routes of the past are forgottentoday. The loss of navigation on the rivers and their tributaries are a nail in the coffin for conservation. The value of riverine forests are neglected.
The conservation initiatives through tourism have beenundertaken in East & Northeast India along with cross-border activities in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar
Conservation Challenges in India and the subcontinent – Our Protected Areas are to live with a increasing Human Population and we have to find out a way to accommodate these people within our PAs. – The wilderness habitat and forest cover beyond the PAs are almost lost and hence the PAs have turned into natural zoos. – The tendency of the forest administration across the country is to declare increase of certain celebrity animal in a shrinking habitat is a major sign of imbalance in the ecosystem. Most of the challenges today, are the only frontiers of continuous biodiversity across countries to be protected for this world to depend on as the last green civilization
Help Tourism works in an area that contributes the most to the Global Climate• The largest mangrove forests in the world, Sunderbans.• The most fertile biodiversity hotspot, East Himalaya.• The least explored biodiversity hotspot, Indo-Burma region. Contributions from the action area•This area has been the mother of most of our traditional food, startingfrom rice, maize and oranges to chicken.•This area is the ‘Mother of Monsoons’, the rains that give life a betterchance in this Indian subcontinent.•The mangroves soak up to five times more carbon than tropical forests.•Every 10 sq km unit in this area is an independent micro-climate in its own.
The only way to protect thislandscape is by using tourism as a tool for meaningful livelihood, sustainable development, responsible visitor involvement, extending the PAs beyond the boundaries and reviving conservation traditions of the local communities
To achieve this, the journey began in 1991 from India’s Northeast & West Bengal and I would repeat the same to tourism stakeholders here
The existing initiatives include• In 1993, the work to create a road map for implementation of KRIEP (Khangchendzonga Region International Ecotourism Park) had started in a very soft way. The main aim was to bring in tourism to the region with authentic local natural & cultural encounters for visitors.• Tourist Centres were developed as models for the villagers to get hands on experience and replicate the models. These centres brought in awareness about tourism and created local stakeholders. Prior to this tourism was controlled by big travel houses, private hotel establishments and Government Tourism Departments.• Later these actions came to be recognized as the first ecotourism initiatives in India and in IYE2002, Help Tourism products were the only ones to be highlighted in the TIES website from India.• During this period, the WBFDC (West Bengal Forest Development Corporation), Kalimpong Forest Division came forward for cooperation from Help Tourism and some ecotourism units were launched in this division, again to be the 1st Government initiative in India.
Jungle Camps, an initiative to slow the process of ‘climate change’• The thought process had started in mid 90s, but the implementation was planned only in 2000. The first ‘Sunderbans Jungle Camp’ was established in 2002 at Bali in Sunderbans Tiger Reserve and a World Heritage Site to reduce the tiger-human conflict.• This was followed by Manas Tiger Reserve, a National Park in peril and a ‘World Heritage Site in Danger’ as declared by UNESCO, holding the local people responsible.• With time 08 Jungle Camps were established across the East Himalaya & Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspots.• Unlike conventional conservation organizations, Protected Areas with maximum human pressure were the target.
The concept of the Jungle Camps• The idea of the ‘tourist centre’ was included and additionally this was used to create ‘local communities as stakeholders in conservation, thus creating green human buffer around the PAs’.• In the first phase the habitat or PAs with critically endangered species were selected in consultation with the local people and the Forest Departments.• The Jungle Camps have been established with the help and partnership of local people to confirm their empowerment and participation in protection of the nature and traditions that helps to keep the micro- climate of the area intact to a large extend and change their roles, which reduces the tendency of the villagers to consume/exploit forest produce.• Accordingly, with time adjoining villages have been included in the tourism and conservation network to confirm the continuity of regional biodiversity conservation by the people.
ROLE OF THE JUNGLE CAMPS IN THE VILLAGES ADJOINING TO PA• The Jungle Camps are always in the fringe villages adjoining to important Protected Areas (PAs).• They help the area to act as an extension of the PA and facilitate easy passage and migration of wildlife.• The camps act as hub for alternative livelihoods, social and cultural activities for the local people and a window to the world.• Facilities like water, approach roads and electricity often follows to destinations after establishment of the Jungle Camps.• The camps often enhance the basic facilities like medical, education, waste management and livelihood training through volunteer visitors.• The process has helped not only to retain youths in villages but has helped to bring back several of them to their villages.• This has helped to bring back a lot of local cultural traditions.
Role of Jungle Camps for Visitors• To ‘deurbanize’ them and to help them appreciate & adopt ‘BIODIVINITY’, the oldest religion of mankind in this world.• To help them to undertake activities which is in tune with the local people’s life & livelihood, like undertaking walks, bicycles & other forms of local transport. Visiting the carbon free & fair trade practicing ‘traditional local weekly markets’ called Haat. Participating in local cultures & events. Etc.• Contributing in creating RT destinations by participating in developing community support institutions and community capacities for meaningful livelihoods.• Helping in rediscovering the real ‘I’ through authentic engagement with rich local resources.
To enhance the process…The Jungle Camps and other HT initiatives have created severaldestinations across the region of East and Northeast India with Nepal,Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar for the travelers and alternativetravelers in general. And there was this special category of tourists ortravelers who could contribute by not only visiting the destinations butparticipating in the process of life & livelihood of the hostcommunities.WE CALLED THEM VOLUNTOURISTS OR VOLUNTEERING VISITORS
Visitor Volunteer programs which would not only bring economical and social benefits, but also help inconservation of the important species based (Red Panda, Himalayan Newt, elephant and tiger) HABITATEXTENDED VOLUNTOURISM VISIONIS THE CHALLENGE OF THE MISSION
Case Study: As Responsible move from visitors, a Foundation has been launched in Australia (to be extended to Asia) beingsupported by the visitor members & various service providers.
It started with the ‘Singapore - East Himalaya Program’ by Jet Airways• Jet Airways, Singapore office, after a long research, along with Help Tourism set up a program to support the Jungle Camp Initiatives in East Himalaya since 2009. The target was to involve the visitors to create Responsible Tourism Destinations, ‘better places to live in and visit’.• In a short period, Jet Airways collaborated with several prestigious & versatile organizations like Singapore Scouts & Guides Association, Singapore Management University, Camp Vision Agape, Temasek Poly etc to support the program.
The ‘Singapore – East Himalaya Program’ was mainly started with the targetfor protection of the Red Panda (Fire Fox) habitat initiated at Hee for BarseyRhododendron Sanctuary in West Sikkim (Extending into Nepal & SingalilaNational Park in Darjeeling Hills) & Kolakham for Neora Valley National Parkin Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling Hills (Extending into PangalakhaWildlife Sanctuary in Sikkim & into Bhutan through the Chumbi ValleyinTibet)
Involvement of Australian Teachers makes the way to the formation of the ‘Growing through Education Foundation’• As a part of the ‘Singapore East Himalaya Program’, teachers involved with ‘open end education’, ‘Education through Art, Music, Games etc’ in Australia were involved by Focal Promotions, an old associate with Jet Airways.• The immediate realization to create quality education hubs for local children and youth was identified to achieve Responsible Tourism Destinations: ‘Better places to live in & visit’, and in the process support the growing youth capacities in conservation of the rich BIODIVERSITY.
This month, this year, the East Himalaya villages had 27 members from the Foundation, both old & new, who have worked towards adopting a new destination & continuing work with 02 others
CHUIKHIM, building infrastructureTourism training, trail identification, homestay management, IT education etc…
NEORA (Kolakham), Regional Teachers’ Training & First Aid workshopsJam making,Strawberryplantation.Baking,Etc…
Hee (Barsey), Regional Teachers’ Training & First Aid workshops
To know in details as individuals or as institutions on voluntourism, please enquire with Jayne Low at the Jet Airways office at Singapore 98309536 Or to visit the destinations you can book online
What have we gained as Help Tourism• We are respected in the region by the State & National Governments, and the communities to an extend that any Responsible Tourism activity in the region is termed as Help Tourism.• We have been consulted by UNESCO, UNDP, Royal Government of Bhutan, Government of India, WWF-India etc for rural tourism.• We act as the extension office for most of the production houses of National Geographic & BBC Wildlife from Europe & Hongkong.• We are respected in the industry as the most authentic special interest tour operator for East & Northeast East India with the capability to combine with the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.• We have been responsible for launching products like Tea Tourism, Birding, Butterfly Watching, Sky Watching, Tourism Festivals etc for the said region.
There are several International organizations who have recognized the Help Tourism way 2012