Posted tagged ‘education’

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






The Phillipines declares six villages as “ecotourism” zones

August 23, 2011
Tropical rainforest, Fatu Hiva Island, Marques...

Image via Wikipedia

An author in the Phillipines, and head of the town of Nueva Vizcaya in that country, has a measure to declare six villages as eco-tourism zones.

“While our municipality is endowed with Mother Nature’s blessings such as mountains, forests, waterfalls, rivers, creeks, springs, hills, peaks and caves which are ideal for trekking, campsite and other eco-tourism destinations, there is a need to institutionalize their protection and further development for its eco-tourism potentials,” said Councilor Roland Carub, author and sponsor of the proposed measure.

The proposed ordinance which seeks to declare barangay Commonal and the Singian mountains within barangays Aggub, Bangar, Bascaran, Concepcion and Tucal as an eco-tourism zones, is set for final reading, he added.

Once approved, Carub explained that these eco-tourism zones will be opened-up for further development based on a crafted tourism development plan which shall trigger the enforcement of standards and collection of statistical data for tourism purposes.

“With this ordinance, management, conservation, development, protection, utilization and disposition of these zones will be assured, including entry of government agencies and institutions which are deemed beneficial,” he said.

These eco-tourism sites, Carub said will be opened and used for educational and scientific researches, cultural, livelihood and tourism purposes.

Any violations based on existing environmental laws and other administrative issuances requires an individual and any organizations to pay the penalties of P1,000.00 for the first offense, P2,000.00 for the second offense and P2,500.00 for the third offense.

Eco-tourism is a form of sustainable tourism within a natural and cultural heritage area where community participation, protection and management of natural resources, cultural and indigenous knowledge and practices, environmental education and ethics as well as economic benefits are fostered and pursued for the enrichment of host communities and satisfaction of visitors

Plato was a backpacker

December 16, 2008
The philosopher Plato
Image via Wikipedia

On the excellent site, a great story appeared recently, authored by Frank Bures.  (

A brief excerpt appears below:

Not far into Will Durant’s book The Story of Philosophy, I came across a startling fact. In his chapter on the Greek thinker Plato, after discussing the politics, history and geography of ancient Athens, he mentions that, due to political unrest, the philosopher was forced to leave the city-state in 399 B.C.

“Where he went, we cannot for certain say,” Durant writes. “Twelve years he wandered, imbibing wisdom from every source, sitting at every shrine, tasting every creed. Some would have it that he went to Judea and was moulded there for a while by the tradition of the almost socialistic prophets; and even that he found his way to the banks of the Ganges and learned the mystic meditation of the Hindus. We do not know.”

I had no idea Plato spent so much time on the road. Like most students, I was assigned to read The Republic in college—several times. As I recall, it seemed like an interesting set of mental exercises, a decent bunch of questions, with maybe even some worthwhile ideas about how society should be run. (Don’t all college students think they’re philosopher-king material?) But Plato the traveler? …”

Go read the rest of the article at this link:

It’s a great read, and definitely food for thought.

Article: “The Value of EcoTourism”

July 1, 2008

An article from the publication Westside Today appeared on their website, from a primatology student.  I found it fascinating and true.  There’s value in tourism of the right kind, value in ecotravel, and value in education combined with the eye opening and mind opening kind of travel.

The Value of Ecotourism

Recently returned from a three-month journey studying the primates in Africa, Brentwood resident Katie Hall gives Westside Today her story.

I have just returned from a three-month term as a field assistant in the Budongo Forest Reserve, Uganda, collecting data on chimpanzee stress response to human impact on the forest. As a primate researcher, I can easily say that human encroachment on the forest ecosystem, whether through logging, hunting, growing crops on the forest edge, and other factors, are detrimental to the health and wellbeing of all forest inhabitants.
So it may come as a surprise to say that the future of the endangered chimpanzees, gorillas, golden monkeys, and other animals may depend on humans entering the forest—through ecotourism.

Katie Hall

Katie Hall

During the course of my research, I visited four forest sites in Northwestern Uganda, each with different levels of human activity impacting the chimpanzees. Busingiro is heavily affected by illegal logging; Sonso is strictly a research station; Kaniyo-Pabidi, a pristine forest, is used for ecotourism; and Kasokwa is a tiny fragment between fields of sugar cane, major roads and several villages.

I spent most of my time in Kasokwa, 70 hectares of degraded forest overgrown with invasive lantana (the only trees left are those not wanted by loggers). The 14 chimpanzees that inhabit the area make the perfect case study for population bottleneck: Most chimpanzee groups in pristine forest travel in groups of 25-50 but socialize with a network as large as 100 individuals; with a group so small, inbreeding is inevitable.

I came to know the 14 chimpanzees of Kasokwa very well throughout the three months, learning to recognize them by their faces and other remarkable features, and by their voices. Four of these 14 individuals suffer from snare injuries: Wire snares are set to trap smaller animals for meat, but chimps often travel on the ground and occasionally get caught. While not always fatal, the injuries sustained can cause long-term damage. Limbs are lost, reducing climbing ability, feeding and social grooming, leaving individuals emaciated, ill and lonely.

Clearly, humans have a very negative impact here. They need the land to grow their crops; they need the water from the stream to drink and wash clothing; they need vegetation to graze their cattle.

But chimpanzees and gorillas especially are a source of national pride (not to mention income) in Uganda, and their conservation is significant to community development projects. Furthermore, both species offer us an opportunity to reflect on our evolutionary heritage.

While it breaks my heart to admit that Kasokwa may be a lost cause in terms of conservation, there is still hope in the many forest areas protected by ecotourism. Kaniyo-Pabidi, Kibale, Semliki, Kyambura Gorge, Bwindi and Mgahinga all offer the opportunity to view majestic chimps and gorillas in their natural habitat.

Tourists pay as much as $500 for one hour with the gorillas; this sounds expensive, but it is worth every penny in terms of conservation and local economic development. Without the income generated through ecotourism, guards cannot be hired to enforce National Park boundaries. Local villagers then cut trees for firewood or building and hunt animals for personal consumption or for the commercial bush-meat trade.

The profits earned from eco-tourism contribute to building sustainable projects within local communities. The results include enhancing farming skills, water sanitation projects, and building schools and hospitals. These amenities ease pressure about providing some basic infrastructure and services. In addition, locals have come to respect the endangered species with which they share space.

Without tourist dollars, chimps, gorillas and other species are likely doomed. While bringing more people into the forest is not good for the animals, this is nevertheless the best opportunity to learn more about the species, their feeding choices, social habits and most importantly, the dangers they face from the human front. The likelihood of anyone donating $500 is slim. This way, tourists have an interactive educational opportunity, the community receives the economic benefit and the animals are further insulated from human encroachment.

Conservation is a by-product of tourism. And tourism is not all bad. Without ecotourism, chimps all over Uganda would be suffering as much as my friends in Kasokwa. Consider an educational, eco-friendly adventure for your next vacation. It is a way to learn more, contribute to conservation and still promote economic development in surrounding communities.
Katie Hall is a recent graduate of UCSD and has had a lifelong fascination with primates. She starts her PhD. at St. Andrews University in Scotland this fall, where she will study primatology.

Scientific American Science Lecture Cruise, December, 2008

June 27, 2008

I’m a reader of Scientific American magazine, and I note that they have, for the past few years, partnered with insight cruises, to have a science cruise, with themed lectures on board.  (As though there aren’t enough things to do onboard a cruise ship, now you have to attend class also?).

The website is here, but the lineup of speakers, which includes NPR’s Ira Flatow, is below:

Ira Flatow
Host, Science Friday

Howard Bluestein, Ph.D.
Lera Boroditsky, Ph.D.
Alan M. Nathan, Ph.D.
Angelica de Oliveira-Costa, Ph.D.
Lisa Schwartz, M.D.
Max Tegmark, Ph.D.
Steven Woloshin, M.D.

Note that the James Randi Educational Foundation also has a similar cruise, to the Galapagos, which, at least to me, is a more interesting location than the Western Caribbean (although I loved loved loved scuba diving in Turks and Caicos).

Digging for Dinosaurs in Montana

June 20, 2008
(– the accompanying photograph is a specimen that is on display at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum), from photographer erinblatzer
Ever since I met paleontologist Jack Horner at Cal Tech in Pasadena, California, I’ve always wanted to go on a dinosaur excavation, or “dino-dig”.  I used to have mixed feelings about this, since it seems that it either makes for bad specimens or a potential market for stealing fossils and “fossil poaching”.  Now, I see it as an educational opportunity, and a way to have people participate in science that might otherwise seem elitist and might actually even reduce or eliminate the black market for fossils.

I found that there’s a company that has a package tour to go dig with dinosaur hunters in Montana, as an educational travel opportunity, and in fact this growing industry has many “roll your sleeves up and get dirty” tour options available.

The helpful website of DinoRuss has a listing of dinosaur dig travel that you can participate in all over the world, including not only Montana and other Western States, but also China, the site of many new exciting fossils.

The A&E Channel also has a travel company, and one of their featured tours involves visiting and digging for fossils in Montana for 5 days.

The Geological Society of America has a more involved 10 day tour of dinosaur fossil digs, and sounds wonderful.

A company called paleoadventures has one and two day tours, which seem to be geared towards families.

A company called describes their tours as follows:

June through August 2008 join us on a dinosaur research expedition in the Badlands of eastern Montana where you could take part in the discovery of a lifetime!

Our expedition searches for 65 million-year-old dinosaurs in a fossil-rich area known as the Hell Creek Formation located near the small town of Jordan, Montana that many call the “Dinosaur Capital of the World”. During past expeditions, we have discovered fossils of the three-horned Triceratops, the duck-billed Hadrosaur, and the ferocious Tyranosaurus rex.

Unlike many paleontological expeditions that allow only scholars to take part, PaleoWorld Research Foundation promotes the concept of “real science for all people” and encourages the involvement of everyone who has an interest in dinosaurs, no matter their age, background or experience. It is a wonderful opportunity for families, children, students, teachers, and adults to take part in a truly unique, educational, and fun dinosaur adventure! Our expedition offers a true 100% hands-on experience to all participants. Upon joining the expedition, you become a PWRF “associate researcher” and you will learn and take part in actual field techniques used to find, collect, and preserve dinosaur fossils.

Dig-for-a-Day or spend the summer but make no mistake about it; our program is NOT a tour.

We are one of the few dinosaur scientific expeditions open to all ages. However, individual guests must be at least 21 years of age due to car rental restrictions (18-yrs-old without rental car).

Have you ever been on a dinosaur fossil dig travel excursion of any kind, anywhere?  Let me know in the comments – thanks!