Module Three - Ecotourism Environments
- Online Lesson
Public Protected Areas
Protected area: An area of land and/or sea
especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity,
and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or
other effective means (IUCN, 1994).
A public protected area is managed by a public
authority (federal, state, county or municipal government). Private protected
areas are commercial or non-government businesses or organizations (NGO).
The majority of protected areas in the world are
located in public protected areas.
An important global efforts to protect important
scientific, cultural or natural locations begins with identifying these areas.
The World Heritage Convention and Biosphere Reserve designations attempt to
encourage countries to identify and preserve these sites. The United Nations has
recognized forty-seven U.S. biosphere reserves (324 in 84 countries) through its
"Man and the Biosphere" (MAB) education and research program. The program, along
with the U.N's World Heritage Convention initiative, was created three decades
ago and conveys "world-class" status on premiere ecological sites.
World Heritage Sites
The World Heritage Convention, (WHC), issued by the Intergovernmental Committee
for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, of the United
Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (WHC-97/2, February
The World Heritage Convention concerns the protection of the World Cultural and
Natural Heritage namely the irreplaceable testimonies of past civilizations and
natural landscapes. Protecting natural and cultural properties of outstanding
universal value against the threat of damage in a rapidly developing world.
The primary aim is to define the world-wide sites of exceptional interest and
such universal value that their protection is considered to be the
responsibility of all mankind and not just the country within whose boundaries
Most protected areas are designated for having an
undisturbed natural environment and biodiversity. They may also have exceptional
scientific, resource, cultural or scenery that add to its value for ecotourism.
IUCN Categories and Ecotourism Compatibility
Conservation Union (IUCN) working with the
World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) has developed a protected area
I. Strict Nature Reserve/Wilderness Area: protected
area managed mainly for science of wilderness protection
II. National Park: protected area managed mainly for ecosystem protection and
III. Natural Monument: protected area managed mainly for conservation of
specific natural features
IV. Habitat/Species Management Area: protected area managed mainly for
conservation through management
V. Protected Landscape/Seascape: protected area managed mainly for
landscape/seascape protection and
VI. Managed Resource Protected Area: protected area managed mainly for the
sustainable use of natural
|Marine Protected Areas
Marine protected areas (MPS's) are being
established across the globe. The primary reason for establishing an MPA
is to protect local marine resources and help protect marine biodiversity.
Private Protected Areas
Non-government organizations or agencies have
several options in the type and level of their involvement in protected areas.
Most common is the contracting of specific services such as food concessions,
equipment rentals, guiding services or management.
In some countries private property rights are
retained by a business or non-governmental organization. A popular and growing
trend it the non-governmental ownership of protected areas by such groups as:
One reason for the growth of these areas is the
publics interest in environmentalism. The ability to generate profits, provide
economic diversification and local control for communities is a primary
incentive for private protected areas. The majority of private protected areas
are financially dependent on tourism. This makes these reserves tenuous, when
the profit motive is greater than the conservation motive. These types of
private arrangements may also deter governments from funding such efforts in the
Among Protected Areas: A small number of parks
accounts for the majority of visitors to the protected areas.
Within Protected Areas: In the highest visited
parks, most of the visitation occurs an a very small area within the park. The
95-5 rule is that about 95% of the visitors are confined to just 5% of the
|Heavily developed sites;|
|Areas immediately adjacent to the heavily
developed sites, an easy walk.|
|Transportation corridors (access roads, rivers or
Issues with Spatial and Temporal Concentration
Many protected areas were not originally intended to
accommodate large numbers of visitors. With the increase dependency upon visitor
generated revenues increases in visitor numbers increase the probability of
negative environmental impacts. This continues the debate over carrying
capacity and the question of sustainability.
Carrying capacity: the amount of activity that can
be accommodated in a specific site without causing unsustainable impacts.
|Fixed Carrying Capacities, are used if the area
is extremely vulnerable; if no information exists to define an areas potential
carrying capacity; if visitor responsibility and awareness levels are low or
unknown; or there are no resources to increase carrying capacity. If visitor
demand exceeds an areas carrying capacity, then a quota or limit must be
imposed to protect the site. Increasing user fees will reduce visitor demand
and may be used as an informal limit.|
|Fluid Carrying Capacities, is an anthropomorphic
view that carrying capacities can be increased by hardening a site or
improving it's capacity through improved transportation or facilities.|
|Combination of fixed and fluid capacities are
used in many protected areas.|
The Use of Carrying Capacity
One popular approach to visitor management is carrying capacity. Carrying
capacity is an attempt at determining the maximum number of visitors that is
sustainable in ecological and social conditions.
Conditions necessary for the application of carrying capacities:
1) There Must Be Agreement On The Type Of Desired Social And Resource
Conditions, Including The Type Of Recreation Opportunity.
2) The Recreation Activities And/Or Experiences to Be Provided Must Be Density
3) There Must Be Agreement on The Acceptable Level Of Impact.
4) A Clear, Specific And Known Relationship Must Exist Between Use Levels And
Social And Resource Conditions.
5) Use Level Must Be More Important Than Visitor Behavior In Determining The
Amount Of Impact.
6) The Protected Area Management Authority Must Control Access In The Area.
7) The Protected Area Management Authority Must Have The Resources (Personnel,
Financial, Information, etc.) To Administer The Carrying Capacity Limit.
8) There Must Be Agreement On The Objectives OF A Rationing System In
Implementing Carrying Capacity.
9) There Must Be Agreement That The Carrying Capacity Limit Represents Either
The Maximum Or The Optimum Number Of People Visiting An Area.
Limits of Acceptable Change
This system focuses on identifying acceptable and achievable resource and social
conditions. The LAC recognizes the value judgements involved in identifying
appropriate levels of impact and use intensity.
Nine Step LAC Planning System
1) Identify Areas' Special Values, Issues, And Concerns.
2) Identify And Describe Recreation Opportunity (ROS) Classes.
3) Select Indicators Of Resources And Social Conditions.
4) Inventory Existing Resources And Social Conditions.
5) Specify Standards For Resource And Social Conditions For Each Opportunity
6) Identify Alternative Opportunity Class Allocations.
7) Identify Management Actions For Each Alternative.
8) Evaluate And Select Preferred Alternative.
9) Implement Actions And Monitor Conditions.
Ecotourism is NOT exclusively focused on undisturbed
environments contained in protected areas. Many ecotourism attractions are in
extensively modified areas that provide habitats for specific kinds of flora and
This includes observable wildlife. There are no
estimates on the amount of ecotourism which focuses on modified venues. Modified
|Waste Disposal Sites - Restoration Ecotourism|
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