Friday, 27 January 2012

The Ecotourist's Dilemma

If you open any wildlife magazine in UK these days, there's a recurring theme in indignant letters written to the editor, along these lines: "Dear Sir, how can you carry adverts for holidays to fragile wildernesses like Galapagos? It's so irresponsible and totally against the ethic of conservation. Cancel my subscription this minute, etc!" I understand the sentiment but don't agree. If everyone just stayed at home and never looked for tiger or gorilla or marine iguana or albatross in the wild, those species would become endangered far more quickly. (Tiger would very quickly become extinct). My work not only helps people to understand the complexity of ecosystems a little, but also puts vital funds into essential conservation projects. For example, the significant costs of visiting the Rwanda and Uganda gorillas are ploughed straight back into their conservation. Eco-tourists are very effective anti-poaching patrols. So it is, on a smaller scale, with bird reserves and national parks anywhere in the world. When there is so much pressure to turn rainforests into palm-oil or soya bean plantations, eco-tourism is vital for helping to protect fragile habitat.  

1 comment:

  1. Ecotourism (being the fastest growing part of the tourism industry) is a rather controversial matter, in dire need of being universally & heavily regulated.

    One can argue that sensitive ecosystems are best left to research & conservation until proper regulations are in place for ecotourism.

    Awareness is raised through education which in turn can inspire funding initiatives.