Ecotourism as a model of tourism in forest areas has been growing for the past 8-10 years. It is being seen as a driver for conservation and development of local communities. While the definition of ecotourism clarifies its role in conservation, conservation education and local area development, the experience of tourism tells a different story. The briefing sheet highlights the issues and concerns about ecotourism from the perspective of local communities in and around forest areas.
Ecotourism as a model of tourism in forest areas has been growing for the past 8-10 years. It is being seen as a driver for conservation and development of local communities. While the definition of ecotourism clarifies its role in conservation, conservation education and local area development, the experience of tourism tells a different story. This briefing sheet discusses 4 important myths surrounding ecotourism.
Adivasi and forest dwelling communities have historically had a cultural and spiritual relationship with the forests. Unfortunately, these communities have been pushed to the fringes by decades of systematic exclusion and disempowerment. In 2006, after a protracted struggle by these communities to assert their rights, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 was passed. This piece of legislation promised rights to millions of adivasis and forest dwelling communities.
On July 24th, 2012, the Supreme Court passed an interim order in the case of Ajay Dubey vs. National Tiger Conservation Authority & Ors. (SLA (Civil) No (s). 21339/2011 disallowing tourism in core areas of Tiger Reserves and a direction that all states notify the core and buffer areas of tiger reserves within 3 weeks. This interim order has generated a lot of debate in the country in which conservationists, tourism industry and forest rights activists have vociferously participated. EQUATIONS Commentary on the interim order seeks to debate these from the point of view of communities in and around protected areas.
This paper highlights issues with promoting ecotourism as a market based conservation tool. It is based on 2 earlier papers that EQUATIONS has been involved in: Forests, Communities and Tourism (EQUATIONS, October 2011) and Green India Mission: India’s REDD+ Action Plan to disempower and evict forest communities from their own homelands (AIFFM and EQUATIONS, October 2011)).
This paper was published in the publication: 'Beyond Greening: Reflections on Tourism in the Rio-Processby EED in June 2012.
This is a background note, which outlines the broad issues and challenges in Ecotourism. The impacts of ecotourism on communities and conservation is highlighted. The note also indicates at possible strategies to address these issues and challenges.
This paper on the interactions between communities and forests in the context of ecotourism was submitted to the Indian Forestry Congress held in November 2011. Over the past 8-10 years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of ecotourism enterprises at well established existing destinations. Further, newer destinations have also emerged over the past 2-3 years and continue to do so. Today, it appears that ecotourism is at its peak and it is important that there be extensive debates in the country to understand the implications of ecotourism and to facilitate the positive impacts while mitigating its negative impacts. The paper draws examples from extensive field visits to Dalma, Betla, Tadoba, Panna, Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Pench, which form the backdrop of the paper. The policy and legislative framework used in the paper are The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, Panchayat Extension to the Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996, the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the guidelines for the creation of special areas in forests and the draft ecotourism guidelines announced by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Commissioned by the Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel (WGEEP) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India , this paper attempts a rapid assessment of the impact of tourism growth in the Western Ghats. The paper is based on substantive secondary research , by EQUATIONS as well as other academicians and organisations. It also has a set of case studies demonstrative how unregulated tourism has led to significant environmental, social and cultural damage in the ecologically fragile Western Ghats region – one of the 34 biodiversity hotspots of the world. The three main sections of the paper are one on the trends in tourism development, the legal and policy regime that is flouted more than followed, and case studies. This is followed by a series of recommendations for sustainable tourism in the region
EQUATIONS was invited to contribute a perspective piece on tourism and protected areas in PA Update.
Protected Areas (PAs) have seen increasing intensive tourism development under the guise of “ecotourism”. While the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972 does allow tourists into PAs, it clearly disallows commercial establishments. The Indian Board for Wildlife, the apex advisory body, had in its XXI meeting in January 2002 resolved “lands falling within 10 km. of the boundaries of National Parks and Sanctuaries should be notified as eco-fragile zones under section 3(v) of the Environment (Protection) Act and Rule 5 Sub-rule 5(viii) & (x) of the Environment (Protection) Rules”. Despite this, a rash of tourism establishments have been established cheek by jowl in the immediate periphery of many PAs like Corbett, Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Nagarahole, Bandipur, Mudumalai, and Periyar.
This compilation of briefing papers is produced as part of the Life as Commerce Project in partnership with the Global Forest Coalition. The aim of this project is to address the environmental and social impacts of market-based conservation schemes. The primary objective is to raise awareness on the impacts of such schemes and to build and strengthen capacity of local communities, social movements and women's groups to address their impacts. EQUATIONS analysed the prevalence and impacts of ecotourism in the 4 Indian states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.