Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ecotourism 'benefits nature and reduces poverty'

I've been critical of ecotourism in the past, perhaps intemperately so. Conceding that "there is substantial evidence that well run eco-tourism projects can bring substantial benefits to a few poor communities", I have asserted:
too many poor people in the world are dependent on primary resources such as reefs and forests ever to be reached by eco-tourists. This great majority will not receive the benefit of eco-tourist dollars but will suffer the impact of the tourists’ pollution. Very often eco-tourism is a stalking horse mass tourism, which is hugely destructive of the environment in both the short and long run. (from Holidays on Death Row at Climatedenial.org)
Still, it is good to see further evidence that well run eco-tourism projects can benefit communities that depend on coral reefs. Nature's Investment Bank, a report from The Nature Conservancy draws on interviews with more than 1000 people in four recently protected marine zones in Fiji, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands. "In every case, the conservation schemes had boosted fish catches and helped create new jobs." The common factor in each case, say co-authors Craig Leisher, Peter van Beukering and Lea M. Scherl were:
the heavy involvement of the local community in the creation of the protection zone, the legal designation of "no catch" zones where fish could breed, and the policing of these zones by government agencies. In all four cases, action was taken after a collapse in fish populations through overfishing by outsiders.
But:
There has to be a sense of crisis before people are willing to change the status quo dramatically.
News reports here and here.

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