Posted by: Bob Payne | September 30, 2011

Ecotourism boom can help save endangered forests, UN and partners say

he increasing demand for ecotourism can play a vital role in saving endangered forests, a United Nations-backed partnership said today, while also warning of the potential damaging effects if its expansion is not effectively managed. According to the findings of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), which consists of 14 international organizations and secretariats, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the benefits of ecotourism flowing to local businesses are dramatically higher than those from mass tourism, providing an incentive to local communities to take care of their environment.


  1. Absolutely true.All concerned should utilise the potential available in sustainable ecotourism for their social, economic and ecological benefit.There should also be effort to develop sustainable ecotourism models in different parts of the world so as to demonstrate the potential.

  2. I’ve been working in tropical forests for over twenty years and can say conclusively that eco-tourism is not a very good solution. First, we always say that you should not bring people into a forest that is not currently occupied. For every eco-tourist worker in a resort 5-7 other local people will move into that forest to take advantage of the economic benefits. This results in often illegal and ad hock communities springing up around these resorts and lots of collateral destruction.

    Second: tourists do not re-visit rainforest resorts. The diseases and hardship involved with these remote areas are a onetime experience for most. Tourist resorts live on repeat visitors and tropical forest resorts just don’t get repeat visitors.

    We have found they are often destructive and uneconomic. I am amazed the UN has not figured this out as these things and their associated well known problems have been around for decades.

    • I´m working for almost 20 years in the Ecuadorian Amazon Basin, and here we have several lodges, 4 of them now owned by local people, certified in good practices with the environment by Rainforest Alliance, if you can teach the people how to do it in the right way, forest it is not destroyed, the amount of tourist per lodge can not exceed 1000 per year.
      I invite you to take a look or visit for example:,, then you will realize how things en ecotourism are done in the right way.
      This Kichwa people from the amazon are managing an incredible amount of money due to their ecolodges, they have organized in one way how to distribute the money in education, health and protecting their own land.
      You can contact them and ask them how many repeaters they have, you will get an answer of yes, people come back.

  3. Eco-tourism is the more powerful awareness building instrument for the conservation of forest,wildlife and protected area. For these reason, ecotourism product analysis and stakeholder analysis is very important.Sometimes indigenous dependent people get more livelihood benefit along the landscape site of forest or protected area. Now collaborative management approach for the natural resources management is very necessary.

  4. Eco-tourism must be managed in a broader policy environment to be effective and benefitial. As an example, Louangphrabang in the north of Lao PDR is a world heritage site. Toursim is a major part of the economy. It is also the site of several initiatives such as ‘save the bear’ and elephant rehabilitation activities. Both of these bring benefits by highlighting the role illegal wildlife trade has on species long term survival prospect, and as such should be supported.

    However, the Department of Forest Inspection has found that the influx in tourist numbers has, generally, increased food proces in the region, particularly in Louangphrabang. Consequently, villages are selling some of the food they produce to city restaurant and in doing so generate higher income for their families, which they can use for education, health, services, bikes of anything else they see as a priority. All good? well no. DOFI reports that many of the villages are replacing the food they sell with higher levels of forest foods. The increased harvesting of forest foods, including wildlife, is placing pressure on these resources and may be threatening some.

    The incraesed tourism has also seen an increased demand for wood products (supplying the tourism market), and so unauthorised harvesting of wood species – usually the high value, high conservation species- to supply the tourist market.

    This is a small example of how a focus on tourism, in whatever form it is branded, can result in perverse or unforseen outcomes.

    the lesson here, and as noted earlier, is that any tourist based development must take a holistic approach tin its development.

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