Holidays for hippies – Ecotourism
Stewardship – the personal responsibility for looking after things, in this case the environment. No one should damage the present or future environment
Conservation – the careful and planned use of resources in order to manage the natural environment for future generations
The aims of ecotourism:
to be environmentally friendly
use more renewable sources of energy
recycle waste products
to involve local people at all levels of planning and during operation – this can include jobs and training
build small-scale non-intrusive hotels where people can stay
Two short videos about the features of ecotourism
Ecotourism in the rainforest
Why should we look after the rainforest?
Over the last 50 years the Amazon rainforest has changed and thousands of square kilometres are cleared every year for timber, farming, mining and road building. The result of this that 20% of the rainforest has now been destroyed.
Global warming – the rainforest absorbs a lot of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, cutting down the trees and burning them to clear land results in carbon dioxide being added to the atmosphere instead – which, in turn increase global warming
Flooding – clearing the rainforest trees reduces interception and means that, when it rains, the fertile topsoil is washed into the rivers and lost. The
rivers also silt up as a result, which means that they are more likely to flood and damage farms, homes and businesses downstream
Ecosystem – clearing the rainforest damages the fragile ecosystem there. Animals and plants lose their habitats and many species become extinct. We also suffer as a result, because Amazon rainforest species have provided the source of many ingredients used in modern medicines. Increasing rainforest clearance means that potential future medicines might be lost before they’re discovered
Tourism – ecotourists like to visit the rainforest and meet its wildlife and people. They bring money to the places they visit. If the forest is cleared, they won’t want to come and communities will suffer financially
Indigenous peoples – Amerindians have lived in the rainforest for centuries. However, increasing contact with the outsiders now moving in to the forest means that they risk catching diseases which they have no resistance to. These diseases can be fatal. Clearing the rainforest also means that the Amerindians lose their homes and way of life.
Ecotourism in the Amazon Rainforest
Ecotourism usually involves small-scale tourism. The Yachana ecolodge in the Amazon Rainforest is one example of an ecotourism development. The ecolodge is a guesthouse where a small number of ecotourists can stay. Its basically a small environmentally friendly hotel that is surrounded by nature.
The Yachana ecolodge is next to the Napo River – a tributary of the Amazon – which is close to the village of Mondana. It is set in its own, protected, 1200-hectare section of rainforest, which is home to thousands of species of tropical plants and animals. Every room has a view of the river, safe drinking water and a private bathroom with a hot shower. Its dining room serves the guests meals made from locally grown food.
Most of the people who work at Yachana are local. They have jobs in the kitchen, dining room, garden – and help to look after the guests and their bedrooms. The lodge also employs Amerindian guides to show guests the forest environment and its creatures, how local people live and how they use plants for medicines.
The Yachana ecolodge offers a range of ecotourism activities. They involve visiting the natural environment in small groups and causing as little harm as possible to the area and to the local people. The activities help tourists to better understand the environment and the lives of local people.
swimming in the Napo River
visiting the local village
learning to make traditional ‘mokaua’ pottery
taking part in a traditional ceremony
visiting a nearby biological research station
What’s good about ecotourism?
For the environment
Ecotourism means that the environment the ecotourists are visiting will be looked after. The trees are not cut down, but conserved for the future, because the forest is now an important attraction and economic asset.
Ecotourism is small-scale, ecotourists travel in small groups. This means that they consume few resources, cause little pollution and are less
likely to cause physical damage, like trampling vegetation.
The Amazon rainforest is an important global resource. By absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the trees act as a brake on increased global warming. Therefore, anything which promotes their preservation is a real benefit – not just for the local environment but for the world.
The Yachana ecolodge recycles its waste and uses renewable solar power
The local economy
Ecotourism developments, such as the Yachana ecolodge mostly employ local people. Their wages are then spent in local markets – multiplier effect
Ecotourism also provides local farmers with two new markets: the tourist developments themselves. like the ecolodge, plus the local people who work for the ecolodge and who don’t have time to grow their own food any more, because they’re too busy with their tourism jobs
Ecotourists like to visit villages and interact with the people. They pay for extra services and buy souvenir handicrafts from them. This puts more ,oney into the local economy – the multiplier effect
People’s lives (social)
as a result of ecotourism, some local people can now afford consumer goods, like televisions and radios – and motorboats instead of canoes. These change people’s traditional lives and can be seen as a negative impact. But many younger people welcome them.
the extra money in the local economy means that more can be spent on healthcare and education – leading to higher literacy levels and life expectancy
because more people are better off now, as a result of ecotourism, fewer fell the need to migrate (move away) to cities in search of work. Many migrants are younger adults, who leave an older population behind. One result of less migration from the Amazon is a better balance of people from different age groups – with more younger, fitter people to earn money, grow food and look after the elderly.
How does ecotourism help sustainable development?
Ecotourists visit the Amazon rainforest because of its natural rainforest
Ecotourism brings money to the area
The forest and its wildlife become economic resources – and so do the traditions of its local people
Local people, local government and local businesses value nature and tradition more
The environment and traditional ways are sustained