Impacts positive and negative: links between ecotourism and environment
Ecotourism is widely touted for its positive impacts, actual or potential, for communities and conservation as well as for companies and consumers. In arguing for access to protected areas, for example, tourism lobbyists and eco-tourism operators commonly argue not only that they will take steps to minimize their environmental impacts, but that ecotourism also generates beneﬁts. However, protected areas also provide very signiﬁcant beneﬁts for the tourism industry. This chapter therefore summarizes these costs and beneﬁts as a context for the detailed reviews and case studies of speciﬁc impacts in the rest of the book. Every year more of the planet’s natural resources are consumed or contaminated by its human population. Human survival needs drinkable water, breathable air and usable bio-logical diversity. Natural ecosystems are the world’s primary reservoirs for each of these. Ecosystems worldwide have been modiﬁed by human activities to various degrees. Areas of near-pristine wilderness and other little-modiﬁed environments are continually reduced. Areas of nearly completely modiﬁed environments, such as city centres, garbage dumps, mines and monocultures, continue to expand. The much larger areas with signiﬁcant but not total modiﬁcation, such as rural residential, broadacre pastoral and logged native forests are also continuing to expand, and to encroach on the least-modiﬁed areas. To arrest and reverse these trends will only be possible with large-scale and far-reaching changes in human social structures and human behaviour. How-ever, without such changes in the short term, far larger disruptions will be forced upon us.
Environmental Impacts of Ecotourism