What is ecotourism?

Posted June 17, 2017 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Eco-Tourism, educational, Environmentally Friendly

TractorRideAlthough there are more detailed ecotourism definitions, basically, ecotourism is this – it is environmentally friendly travel.

Through this particular form of tourism, travelers can immerse themselves in the land’s most naturally beautiful wonders and gain a new appreciation for what mother nature has to offer. Ecotourism adventures are fueled by conservation and a dedication to enjoying the land without human interference. If you’re committed to limiting your environmental impact or supporting locally driven efforts, this is the trend for you.

Beyond thrilling and educational day trips, it’s easy to make a positive environmental impact with a few simple decisions. For example, getting acquainted with your destination’s seafood options will help you to be more conscious of what you’re ordering for dinner. In the US Virgin Islands, for example, long-lived predators and various groupers are among the most threatened fish, while Lion fish are a non-native species invading the ocean and hurting the food chain.

In Peru, along with many other countries in Latin America, there are operators taking existing land, and existing farms or other businesses, and recreating them into thriving ecotourism locations.

Across all age groups, a preference for ecotourism (or “green travel”) is a growing aspect of the travel industry.  People in the industry are taking note.
 
“We see that more and more of our customers are concerned about not just the impact of their travel to the destination, but also once they get there. It’s more than not changing your hotel towel every day; many travellers now base their decision on where to stay based on the hotel or resorts environmental responsibilities,” said Andrew Shelton of Cheap Flights. 
 
He shares his top three tips on how eco-tourists can do their bit to decrease the impact on the environment:
 
1: Travel light: Not only will you save on baggage fees, but lighter luggage also increases the plane’s fuel-efficiency.
 
2: Conserve where possible: Due to severe drought, many parts of the world are currently very aware of how much water gets wasted on a daily basis, but the water conservation habits learnt now are applicable everywhere – especially in ecologically sensitive environments. Every drop counts –  don’t run the tap while shaving, re-use  towels for multiple days and ask room service not to clean the room.
 
3: Buy local: Doing so supports the local community and reduces the carbon footprint as goods were grown / manufactured in the area. 
What are your experiences and tips for ecotourism?

 

Costa Rican Ecotourism

Posted May 8, 2017 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Eco-Tourism

Costa Rican Ecotourism

One of the countries that I’ve been to that does eco-tourism well is Costa Rica.  In visits to five different areas of Costa Rica over twenty years, I have found that Costa Rica takes ecology and conservation efforts seriously, and allows people to experience nature in a non destructive manner.

Last week, I participated in a canopy zip line tour.  The advantage of being near the canopy, or treetops of the rainforest, is that is where the majority of the bird life, and animal life, live, to avoid predators, and to enjoy the sunshine and protection of the treetops.

The canopy tour starts by taking you via tractor to the top of one of the local mountains, where you are locked into a main carabiner, and two backup carabiners, and walked onto a platform.  The platforms are built non-destructively around trees, using steel braided cables, plastic, and wood blocks, and is well secured, even if the platforms sway with the trees.

The zip line goes as fast as 90 miles per hour, and braking is done by leather glove – you put one hand on the cable, and one hand on the cable, and pull down to brake or slow.  There is also a resistant wood block that acts like a brake as well.

While the best speeds are done when your center of gravity is up, and the ride is safest when your legs and arms aren’t out where branches can catch them, some of the riders choose to ride upside down, or backwards.  Helmets are required at all times, along with the gloves, for safety reasons.

As Costa Rica, as a nation, moves from agriculture becoming their primary contributor of GDP, to tourism becoming the largest source of money into the country, more and more zip line tours are coming up.  I had a great time and would highly recommend it.

 

This Week in EcoTourism News

Posted August 28, 2016 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Africa, Eco-Tourism, educational, Environmentally Friendly, Hiking, India, United States

An article that I recently shared pointed out how purchasing experiences brings more happiness to individuals than purchasing things.  Purchasing a home, clothing, cars, and other material goods doesn’t come close to the happiness boost that experiences such as travel, dining with friends or family, or nature does.

Spending time in nature, while minimizing impact on nature, is a travel goal worth underlining, and worth promoting wherever in the world it happens.  This past week the following stories came across my desk:

  1. Romania Tourism Revamp Aims for more Danube, Less Dracula.  One man, Mr. Patzaichin, is bringing tourists to the Blue Danube of Strauss, rather than the focus in the past two decades on the culture and myths around Dracula. Romania is a country that can certainly have both.
  2. Apatani Tribe Giving Back to Nature.  In rural India, a tribe living in the Ziro Valley is notable for their low impact on their environment.  The customs and practices of the tribe may teach others how to use techniques that have the least impact on the environment.
  3. The Nenetsky Nature Reserve in Arctic Russia is opening a new eco-tourism route, called “Barefoot Across the Tundra“, in 2017.  It’s a five kilometer route, and sounds like quite an experience:  “Walking across the tundra barefoot is a fantastic experience. You have the indescribable feeling of sinking into the moss, catching your toes on the lichen, having berries burst under your soles, and then walking across soft, warm sand,” said Valentina Semenchenko, deputy director of environmental education at Saylyugemsky National Park.”
  4. In Maine, a Couple has Started a new Ecotourism Company, Venture Outside, which aims to provide tourists with “physical and holistic activities in natural settings around the world”.  Their most popular excursion is called the TMT  — the Try Maine Tri — a five-day adventure designed to rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit. The itinerary includes three sports, interspersed around other activities in various places throughout Maine, including the Boothbay-Camden area, Downeast-Acadia National Park region, and Baxter State Park.
  5. The Country of Ghana is getting a 1.2 billion Ultra Modern Ecotourism Park in its Capital City.  That funding will bring construction of amusement parks, orchards, an arboretum, wildlife safaris, museums, ecocommercial enclaves, and ecolodges, with as little disruption to natural vegetation cover as possible.

Thoughts on Ecotourism in the form of sustainable farming

Posted July 16, 2016 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Eco-Tourism, educational, Environmentally Friendly

Tags: , ,

Some thoughts on Ecotourism from news stories this week (July 8-15, 2016):

After reading about the eighth annual Ecotourism conference, which took place earlier this month, this week I saw an “ecotourism” article about a working farm, with goats, in Reno, of all places, which I thought was a strange subject and location for ecotourism.  When I, and I believe most people, think of ecotourism, we tend to think of unspoiled wilderness, or nature, and certainly pre-agricultural era environments.

The article really is about structuring farms to take advantage of natural symbiosis and existing processes in nature, and to that extent, it reminds me of the work of Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms.  You may be familiar with Joel Salatin from author Michael Pollan’s works mentioning him (in books and articles).  Salatin raises cattle, pigs, chickens, and other animals, and uses the symbiotic relationships between the animals and the growth and decomposition of natural processes to make a self contained system for growing animals and crops naturally. Joel is well known in the organic farming world for his nine books and many lectures, as well as being featured in several documentaries.  And his farm has been a tourist attraction of sorts as a result.

For example, Salatin’s structure of farming emphasizes healthy grass on which animals can thrive in a symbiotic cycle of feeding. he calls himself a “sun farmer”, as a result, as the grass grown by the sun is the center of the structure of the farming process.  Cows are moved from one pasture to another rather than being centrally corn fed. Then chickens in portable coops are moved in behind them, where they dig through the cow dung to eat protein-rich fly larvae while further fertilizing the field with their droppings.

I hadn’t thought about that as an eco-friendly aspect of tourism, but it clearly is.  It appeals to those interested in viewing the farm and the processes, and educates and helps save the impact on the Earth as well.

–Robert Miller

 

 

 

 

Saving Turtles and Eco-Travel

Posted July 9, 2016 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Eco-Tourism

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The BBC World News had an interesting article about saving Turtles in the wild in Sri Lanka.  I have personally seen Sea Turtle hatcheries in Costa Rica, and in Mexico, and in general they provide a safe space for turtles to lay their eggs, in a protected area, and return to the ocean once hatched without harassment by tourists or predators.

Sea turtles are given legal protection in the United States and its waters under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which declares the following species of turtles as threatened species and thus endangered:

  • Hawksbill turtles;
  • Leatherback turtles;
  • Kemp’s ridley turtle;
  • Green sea turtle; and the
  • Loggerhead turtle.

This designation makes it illegal to harm, harass or kill any sea turtles, hatchlings or their eggs. It is also illegal to import, sell, or transport turtles or their products. In the United States, the National Marine Fisheries Service has jurisdiction over sea turtles in the water, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for them on land. Other countries have their own conservation laws and regulations that apply to sea turtles.

Some regulations affecting sea turtles are global in scope. The “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species” (CITES) controls international trade in endangered and threatened species. Sea turtles are covered under Appendix I of this agreement and receive protection from international trade by all countries that have signed the treaty.

As a result of the need to protect Sea Turtles and their eggs, a need has arisen in the eco tourism niche where persons can help achieve these goals.

Some charities that mix volunteer opportunities with fundraising and other efforts to help turtle conservation:

http://www.turtleconservationfund.org/

http://www.conserveturtles.org/

Home

http://www.seeturtles.org/

~Robert Miller

Eco Friendly Travel Tips

Posted March 6, 2016 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Eco-Tourism, Environmentally Friendly

Tags: ,

Eco Friendly Travel Tips

I have one rule at home that I admittedly find it hard to follow 100%.  But I do try.  That rule is to never purchase something new that I can get preowned or used.

There is much talk about how best to save the environment, and how to best use our purchasing power, as consumers, to urge more eco friendly products, from clothing to cars.  But almost nothing wastes more money than the process to make new consumer goods, while there are perfectly good items that can be used instead of wasting money on manufacturing new ones.

Consider the process to make new items or to manufacture more existing products:

  • The design of the product, from prototypes to redesigns;
  • The amounts spent on marketing the product, from print advertising, bus ads, marketing on car and truck wraps, blimps, and on giving away free product for promotion;
  • The fuel, energy, waste, and raw materials made to manufacture the product;
  • The fuel, energy, waste, and raw materials used just to package the product;
  • The fuel, energy, waste, and raw materials used just to transport the product, from cardboard boxes, to plastic casing, to shipping containers; and
  • The fuel, energy, waste, and raw materials used to trash, give away, or repurpose the product when replaced by another model or upgrade.

Under our current system, many cars, clothing, furniture, electronics, and other items are replaced long before their useful life is through.  Those products end up as waste in dumps, or additional resources are used to donate those to the third world.

It bothers me somewhat how much in kudos are given to manufacturers that make supposedly eco friendly products, without taking into account the total carbon footprint or impact of the entire design and distribution of the product.  It may be substantially better to use existing products rather than purchasing, and having shipped, a new more supposedly eco friendly item.

It often is a mental leap for many to realize that keeping an old gas guzzler running (for one example) might actually end up in a lower carbon footprint than purchasing a new lower emissions vehicle.  But the marketing attractiveness of new products sold in a sales pitch of being “Earth Friendly” might not tell the whole story.

When it comes to travel, looking for ways to stay, cook, eat, and sightseeing with a minimal impact on the environment is a worthy goal.  But sometimes that means foregoing the new “eco friendly” resort being built in the rainforest, and using the pensione, hostel, or existing hotels in the area instead.  Marketing doesn’t always mean effectiveness.

Adventure Travel in Tahiti

Posted February 28, 2016 by ecoadventuretravel
Categories: Activities, Eco-Tourism, Pacific Islands / Oceana, Scuba Diving, Uncategorized

Tags: ,

I’m excited about my vacation to Tahiti in less than 30 days.  French Polynesia is an amazing, historically significant place on the planet.  As one of the last places to ever be originally habituated by humans, the country has been relatively unspoiled from the beginning.

After becoming a French colony, Tahiti became a center of ecological controversy for decades due to nuclear testing in the area.

The country consists of 130 islands scattered across the Pacific —a total land area roughly equivalent to that of metropolitan Paris and London combined but spread across a swath of ocean five times as large as France.

Tahiti has become more environmentally sensitive due to awareness of envorinmental issues, and concerns, like all island nations, of sea levels rising due to global warming and climate change concerns.

Three decades of French nuclear testing had led to increased atmospheric plutonium and radiation, several destroyed coral reefs, a landslide and related tsunami, and radiation poisoning found in fish in the area. (Source: http://canterbury.cyberplace.org.nz/peace/nukenviro.html)

Because of the isolation of the islands, there is little biodiversity in plants, most of which were introduced by the first Polynesians, and many others were introduced by Europeans centuries later.

On the limestone soils of the island atolls, desert-type plants are commonly found. On the high volcanic islands plant life is more diversified; ferns have conquered many hills and plateaus, whereas rainforests are established in the upper valley areas. On coastal plains coconut, breadfruit, and various fruit trees flourish.

No mammals are indigenous to the islands, but you can find feral goats, pigs, horses, cattle, and rats introduced by prior settlers. A fish called nato and a variety of shrimp are found in the islands’ freshwater streams. The marine life in the lagoons and surrounding seas is varied and plentiful.

Current tourism on the islands focuses on minimal impact sailing, snorkeling and scuba, hiking, and responsibly exploring the natural beautiful environment and surroundings of not only Tahiti, but all the surrounding islands that make up French Polynesia (including the Marquesas Islands.

Eco friendly adventure travel outfitters include the following:

http://tahitiecotourism.com/

http://www.adventurefinder.com/adventure-travel/french-polynesia-adventures/south-pacific-tuamotu-the-marquesas-islands-adventure-life-tidadlv5691.html

Having been fascinated by the artists that have lived in French Polynesia, and the amazing stories relayed by James Michener in the Pulitzer winning novel,”Tales of the South Pacific”, which became a popular Rogers & Hammerstein musical and film.

Look for more photographs and adventures coming up!