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Eco Tourism?

Posted by edro on September 28, 2007

Eco-Tourism Is an Oxymoron!

Compare healthy smoking, environmentally-friendly SUVs, safe malignant cancer…

Eco-tourism is growing at a phenomenal rate stressing the environment, damaging fragile ecosystems and destroying endangered species. Eco-tourism is the gang-rape of the environment under the “green” flag.

Basic ecological facts:

1. Human activities degrade ecosystems.
2. Intensive human activities destroy ecosystems.
3. After warfare, tourism [euphemistically referred to as eco-tourism,] is the most destructive human activity. ~ EDRO

8 Responses to “Eco Tourism?”

  1. vincent said

    [IF only you could turn the clock back by about 35 years! Moderator]

  2. edro said

    Misanthropic Scott,

    You are confusing basic ecological facts with anecdotal references. Here are the basic facts:

    1. Human activities degrade ecosystems.
    2. Intensive human activities destroy ecosystems.
    3. After warfare, tourism [euphemistically eco-tourism,] is the most destructive human activity.

    Lisa’s example, Doubtful Sound, clearly illustrates these points. I’m unaware of any independent studies concerning the ecological fate of those places you mentioned; however, there’s no reason why they should be exempt from the general ecological rules and immune to environmental degradation.

    I was astonished to find Yellowstone on your list. Was that a hoax? Are you seriously pleading ignorance about the 4 million visitors per year arriving in their snowmobiles and cars causing a multiplicity of adverse effects [noise pollution, air pollution…] on the park’s wildlife?

    You twisted the New Zealand example into a circular argument. Fortunately, I haven’t been to New Zealand, but I am told there are nearly as many ruminant animals in that country as there are people in ours. If you are worried about the extent of sheep farming in New Zealand, why not take action? Stop buying their 7-legged lambs from your local supermarket and soon their sheep farms would grow back into lush forests.

  3. Misanthropic Scott said

    A Concerned Reader,

    I agree with you that eco-tourism is not zero impact, as I already stated. However, you pick and choose your examples and ignore parks like the Manu Biosphere Reserve, the huge game concessions in Africa, The Adirondacks in New York, Yellowstone, the ranchers in the Pantanal in the second link I posted, the 25% of the land of Costa Rica reserved largely as a business decision by a formerly poor country that has now made a huge business of eco-tourism rather than forestry.

    In fact, even Doubtful Sound that you mention in Fiordland was preserved as a park for a reason. There are few cases where countries set aside wide swaths of land just because it’s the right thing to do. So, while I listen to both sides, I think you are completely ignoring one side. And, this is truly a gray area with complex issues on both sides.

    Remember, I’m not trying to convince you that you do not have real and valid points about the impact of eco-tourism. However, I have seen far too many of these places where the parks were clearly set aside as a national business decision and right next to them is total human devastation. Have you been to New Zealand? Have you seen what it looks like outside Fiorland? It’s all clearcut sheep farms.

    So yes, eco-tourism does harm. However, it has also been the impetus for many many acres of conserved land.

  4. a concerned reader said

    Monetizing Earth’s ecosystems is the most troubling issue that hasn’t been addressed. The argument that “looking at only the damage side of eco-tourism is ignoring the impact of whatever activity the land might otherwise be put to if not for eco-tourism” is fallacious. The former British Crime [Genocide] Minister, Tony Blair, was once asked why Britain under his Labor government exports more weapons then ever before [about $10 billion each year]. His reply was, if Britain didn’t export weapons someone else would! [If such fallacy goes unchecked, the only possible outcome of the vicious spiral of destruction in any system, social or ecological, would be the ultimate demise of that system, its total collapse.]

    Tourism, by definition, is a business activity that involves providing accommodation, food, services, entertainment… for people who visit a place for pleasure. In our exponential growth culture, businesses must grow exponentially in order to remain viable, let alone be profitable. Exponential growth in tourism means larger numbers of visitors crowding into the same attractions; in the case of eco-tourism, frequently, fragile ecosystems are damaged irreversibly. Eco-tourism, like plague, destroys everything in its path.

    One of the links Lisa posted, “Eco tourism harming New Zealand’s marine wildlife,” is about the mounting impact of tourism on whales and dolphins around New Zealand’s coastline: http://www.cdnn.info/eco/e020829/e020829.html

    Here are some of the facts quoted from the report:
    About one half of a million tourists go dolphin watching in New Zealand. “Whale-watching off Kaikoura attracts up to one million visitors a year.”

    “In Fiordland, 7 per cent of bottlenose dolphins had been scarred by collisions with boats, said Otago University marine ecologist David Lusseau.”

    “‘I am afraid Doubtful Sound will become another Milford Sound, where about 7 per cent of the population bear scars from boat collisions and where dolphins avoid the fiord when boat traffic is too intense,’ he said.”

    As for the pollution created by the air travel to New Zealand, “About 1.56million visitors from Northern Hemisphere [about 62% of the total number of tourists who visited New Zealand in 2006] produced a total of 17million tons of CO2e on their return flights to New Zealand last year, which significantly contributed to further deterioration of our failing ecosystems.”
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0611/S00286.htm

    To watch dolphins, whales… the “eco-tourists” from North America and Europe consumed about 2.71 billion gallons of fuel on their return flight to New Zealand.

    As Lisa says, a good eco-tourist should stay at home to avoid flying, driving and building hotels, roads and other infrastructure on top of the eco-systems they are trying to save.

    There’s no reason why concerned local communities couldn’t take advantage of the 21st century’s bleeding-edge technology videoing their precious ecosystems and broadcasting to paid subscribers (the true eco-tourists) throughout the world. Financially, it’s a much more viable option. It makes perfect commercial sense when compared to building harmful, expensive accommodation and infrastructure accommodating the tourists. Environmentally, it’s an infinitely more intelligent option because of the near zero impact on both the local ecosystems and biosphere.

  5. Oh, here’s a good link about the right way to do eco-tourism.

    http://www.focusconservation.org/ecotourism_biodiversity.html

  6. Misanthropic Scott said

    One of the problems with looking at only the damage side of eco-tourism is ignoring the impact of whatever activity the land might otherwise be put to if not for eco-tourism. If the land is degraded by eco-tourism, but not as much as if it were clearcut and that in fact was the plan for that land then eco-tourism has protected that swath of land.

    Further, there is eco-tourism and eco-tourism. In some cases, the people who live in the area get nothing or next to nothing from the tours coming through. In some cases, the locals are very much involved and make the lion’s share of the money and get a huge benefit.

    In the former case, the locals probably hate the environment and make no effort to preserve it. In the latter case, the locals come to appreciate the environment tremendously. Sometimes, even when locals do not get direct benefit, as in the case in Rwanda, the locals come to appreciate the net benefit anyway. I am not sure why this is the case.

    However, in Rwanda, during the genocide, both sides completely avoided harming the gorillas or their habitat. This is incredible. After the genocide, when the researchers got back in to do a census, they found that the mountain gorilla population had actually increased during the time of the genocide.

    However, the ideal case is still the one where the locals derive significant and direct benefit, as in the case of the jaguar reserve in the Pantanal in Brazil.

    http://www.jaguarreserve.com/about.asp

  7. edro said

    Thanks for the links, Lisa.

    AND you’re welcome! No blocking on this blog!

  8. Lisa said

    Unless you can walk, swim or skydive to your “eco-tourism” destination WITHOUT stressing the earth, [eating, drinking otherwise] littering the environment or relieving yourself during the visit, “eco-tourism” IS an oxymoron.

    Eco tourism destroys biodiversity and harms local communities AND is a greenwash. http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/eco5.htm
    Eco tourism is harming marine wildlife. http://www.cdnn.info/eco/e020829/e020829.html

    A good Eco-Tourist stays at home; otherwise, they build a Hotel on top of the Eco-Systems they think they are saving. http://www.hobotraveler.com/2005/05/agro-tourism.html

    Adventure travel and Eco-tourism destroy the very things they are supposed to venerate http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=000Fwi

    Building of dams and development of eco tourism destroy the ecology of the regions and the natural environment. http://nara.tumblr.com/post/8465159

    A major impact on the forest are the pressures caused by accommodating the physical needs and comforts of tourists; impacts of providing wood for fuel, accommodation and access routes, together with the problems caused by tourists’ rubbish, put a large stress on the environment. For example, litter has been strewn along the trails of popular Himalayan tourist routes, and the alpine forest decimated by trekkers looking for fuel to heat their food and bath water [and dump their feces].
    http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/TLSF/theme_c/mod16/uncom16t03s02.htm

    The “Knights of Eco Tourism” [and their airlines, hotel chains…] are the rubber barons of 21st century.

    AND thank you for not blocking me! 😉

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