Monday, May 5, 2008


By: Erasmus Owusu Henaku, Ghana

Ecoturism occurs in wilderness areas, often protected areas. The world’s poorest people usually live in and around these areas. Conservationists role is to help to establish a balance between the needs and demands of the protected area site and all resource user including local residents, national/international companies and tourists.

Given its potential costs and benefits, conservationists have mixed feelings about ecoturism. It presents difficulties and obstacles to the mission of preserving biological diversity and promoting sustainable development. It may hinder conservation and development activities.

Of greater significant ecoturism presents opportunities to advance conservation and development goals. It offers ways to capture more attention and funds for conservatioan and development schemes in areas that attract visitors.

Conservationists need examine the specific issue areas where ecoturism intersects with their conservation mission. Some of the main issue areas where ecoturism and conservation intersect and where problems and opportunities are presented are:

- Protected area management.
- Sustainable development in conifer zone areas.
- Environmental policy and
- Directing consumer demand.

Within each of these five issue areas, conservationists can devise many strategies to maximize the opportunities presented by ecoturism and minimize its problems. One of the most pressing issue areas is protected area management because so many parks are experiencing great increases in visitation and are totally unprepared.

One of the best strategies to help parks be in better position to manage and benefit from tourists, is to promote a comprehensive planning process and assist in creating ecoturism plans.

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