Archive for the ‘Environmentally Friendly’ category

What is ecotourism?

June 17, 2017

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?

 

This Week in EcoTourism News

August 28, 2016

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

July 16, 2016

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

 

 

 

 

Eco Friendly Travel Tips

March 6, 2016

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.

Eco-tourism coming to Goa

January 14, 2016

Although Goa, in India, is known for nightlife, beaches, and a “hippie” vibe, eco friendly travel is coming soon.  The forest ministry in Goa is looking to develop eco-villages in that city, in a bid to decongest the beaches and divert tourists to the beautiful, more rural, areas of the region.

Talking about the future of eco-tourism in the region, Goa Forest Minister Rajendra Arlekar was recently quoted, “We have to balance revenue generation as well as keeping the environmental balance of the state. Setting up eco-villages will help us greatly promote eco-tourism in rural areas.”

Hopefully those plans will become a reality soon.

How to be a responsible eco-tourist

July 17, 2012

After reading an article in Discover magazine (which I would link to, but I can’t find other than on my bathroom counter at home), I realized that there is a dark side to ecotourism.  It mentioned the trash, pollution from jeeps, and danger to tourists from animals or acts of nature.  The following tips, from a hotel group in India, might help.

How to be a responsible tourist

• Do not use facilities that have altered the natural habitat. These may include resorts, hotels, swimming pools, especially boundary walls and fences. These alter and inhibit animal movement.

• Avoid resorts that have swimming pools or fountains. These are wasting a precious local resource, especially in areas with water scarcity. Check if the resort uses a rainwater harvesting device.

• Recycle: You can use a towel for two days instead of demanding room service replace it every day.

• Avoid the use of detergents, soaps and toiletries that are toxic or not eco soluble. Check if the resort has restrictions on detergents, soaps and toiletries or waste-management systems and solar power.

• Do not use perfumes and deodorants on a safari.

• Do not use light and sound in restricted zones after dark. Do not insist on night safaris, driving through protected zones, or playing the stereo loudly. If unavoidable, put headlights on low beam, use the dipper and drive slow.

• Use resorts or home-stays run by local communities, people dependent on the forest, however basic. Ensure you are contributing to the local economy.

• Do not crowd

Babys first swim

I just used this photograph (marginally relevant to the swimming pool tip) because I think my son Louis is cute, and it reminds me of his first swim! – Robert 

animals. You may feel like your safari is a waste if you haven’t seen a tiger up close, but as one conservationist put it: “How would you feel to be put on exhibition, surrounded by 40 jeeps, each with eight humans, each with a camera?”

Volunteering in Costa Rica and Protecting Wildlife

June 8, 2012

Reporter Jane from the Brisbane Times had the following account of working as a volunteer taking care of wildlife in Costa Rica.  It’s a great read and makes me want to return to Costa Rica.

Tapir

Tapir (Photo credit: FrogMiller)

By 8am we’re sitting on upturned buckets on the floor of a concrete shed, up to our elbows in bananas, plantains, papayas and a curious tuberous vegetable called yucca. It has very hard, pure white flesh and tough, brown skin and it takes a good whack with a lethally sharp knife to break into bite-size pieces – just the way a hungry tapir likes it.

Later we’ll load two big buckets of this concoction into a wheelbarrow and march it down a short track to four hungry tapirs.

Animal rescue... tapirs are cared for at La MarinaWildlife Rescue Centre.Animal rescue… tapirs are cared for at La MarinaWildlife Rescue Centre. Photo: Jane Mundy

Preparing food for the animals is the first task of the day at La Marina, a privately funded animal rescue centre in the central valley of Costa Rica. Animals as diverse as spider monkeys, capuchins, kinkajous, pythons, scarlet macaws, ocelots, eagles and vultures, crocodiles and even a pair of lions find homes here. Some are injured, some have lost their habitats or are handed in by people who have kept them as pets. Some will be nursed back to health and released into their natural habitat – but most will not. They will see out their days at La Marina, cared for and protected.

The small team of volunteers busy chopping, slicing and dicing is like a mini European Union. Tinoos is a thirtysomething Danish opera singer-turned-carpenter. Elias is a Belgian university dropout. Romy is undertaking field work for the biology course she studies in the Netherlands. There is someone from Russia, someone from Germany. They all seem younger than us and must wonder why a couple of oldies from Australia choose to spend a week of their Central American holiday in a place like this.

Yes, we could have opted for something cleaner, safer and more fragrant. But that’s one of the things about volunteering – you get all kinds.

As we come along the track with our wheelbarrow, the tapirs – three adults and an adolescent who has just grown out of his stripy juvenile coat – wait and watch. Tapirs are extraordinary-looking creatures, rather like a large pig with an extended nose-cum-trunk. It’s as though the animal thought for a while about being an elephant, then changed its mind. They come to the gate of their large, leafy enclosure, hungry and curious, sniffing the air, teeth bared.

I have a healthy respect for wild animals and the need to keep one’s distance so I tread cautiously. Two hundred kilograms of angry tapir can make a mess of your arm. Yet although they are equipped with a formidable set of teeth, these tapirs are docile and affectionate – seemingly not just because they’re hungry. They appear to be fond of being stroked, scratched and cuddled. Yes, cuddled. Arms around their necks, cheeks pressed against coarse hide. The full love-in.

Around the middle of the day we make our way to the lunch room where volunteers compare the contents of lunch boxes prepared for us by our hosts.

Part of the deal at La Marina is that volunteers are billeted with Costa Rican families and our “mother”, Xinia, takes the job of feeding us seriously. Today it is rice and beans. Yesterday it was beans and rice. Xinia speaks barely a word of English but we can more or less make ourselves understood and as well as feeding us and washing our filthy work clothes, Xinia makes us feel part of her wonderful extended family.

It’s usual for family members to live next door to one another; living next to Xinia is one of her five sisters and family, and next door again is a brother.

In Costa Rica, where more than 25 per cent of the country is dedicated national park, there’s no shortage of animal-viewing opportunities: by river, horse-back ride to the base of a volcano or guided walk through a forest.

Eco-tourism is a big earner but viewing opportunities in the wild, although plentiful, must be from a distance: scarlet macaws flash across a clear blue sky; a sloth is curled high in the tree tops; rustling branches denote a troupe of howler monkeys on the move.

You need luck, patience and good binoculars. At La Marina you get to see animals at close range, for longer, and can touch some of them.

But volunteering here is not all about cuddling tapirs, however. There is hard work to be done and it’s not glamorous: bird cages cleaned; building materials carried; paths swept. The wild pigs’ enclosure is cleaned daily – not a popular task.

However, there is something satisfying about these hands-on experiences and I find that I don’t want to leave. I have become attached to the animals. Even to tapirs.

FAST FACTS

Getting there

United Airlines has a fare to San Jose from Los Angeles for about $600 low-season round trip, including tax. Flight is about 8hr,s including transit time in Houston).

Volunteering there

La Marina Wildlife Rescue Centre is in San Carlos, Alajuela, 60 kilometres north-west of San Jose. A bus ($2.50, about 3hr) operates from downtown San Jose to Ciudad Quesada (8½ kilometres from La Marina).

A flat fee of $US250 ($256) applies regardless of the length of stay, including airport pick-up and introduction to a host family. An extra $US13 a day covers a room and meals; see zoocostarica.com.

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/travel/holiday-type/eco-tourism/talk-to-the-animals-20120531-1zjxs.html#ixzz1xF1I3JIj