- Park Management
- Benefit Locals
- 10% Protected
As well as the economic benefits of ecotourism, ecotourism also enables people to witness these fragile containers of life and hopefully entrench the importance of conservation. They then spread the word to friends and colleagues.
As more people from prosperous nations visit these areas, they can see how incredible and irreplaceable they are. This increases the mounting pressure to ensure the survival of these remarkable areas.
Not all tourism is good tourism. For instance, destroying the breeding ground of animals to build a five star hotel that ultimately degrades surrounding habitat, or that disturbs breeding areas of sea turtles on a near by beach etc. is not good for the environment.
In order for tourism to be beneficial in the wake of conservation, it must be carefully planned and properly managed. Poor park management, inadequate facilities, and too many people result in disaster for the eco-tourism objective of preserving the environment. This failure has already occurred in some countries and is looming in others. From these, however, we can learn from the mistakes and apply the lessons to the many successful eco-tourism ventures.
Education programmes should also be set up for the local inhabitants, as tourists present an irresistible temptation for locals to sell them anything and everything from the rainforest e.g. selling bones of protected animals or, as an extreme example, even selling jaguar cubs as pets (the illegal exotic animal trade is a fifteen billion dollar per year industry).
For ecotourism to be a viable alternative to destructive activity like logging, we need to make reserves profitable for the people who live in and around the parks. This means involving locals in the upkeep and decisions of the park, and then showing the governments that protected areas can yield a higher profit than logging and farming on the same land.
At present, 10% of land is protected, but this is not enough to protect the vast percentage of species. Plans should be made to increase the amount of protected land, and if protected land is shown profitable, then more parks will open protecting more of the world’s habitat.
To put the cost of reserve upkeep into perspective, Edward Wilson states that this can currently be achieved with a one-cent-per-cup tax on coffee.