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As the sun rises and the flooded forests of Cambodia’s Stung Seng wildlife sanctuary come alive with the chattering and whooping of endangered monkeys with their elegant silvery-grey fur, fishermen from the Phat Sanday commune make their way towards the lake to set their nets for the day.

Located in the Tonle Sap biosphere reserve, the unique wetlands ecosystem of Stung Seng provides food and shelter for a number of species and acts as an important fish nursery. Surrounding floating village communities are also dependent on the wetland’s lakes and trees for clean water, fish, wood, fruits and nuts for their survival.

Unfortunately, in recent years, illegal fishing, overfishing, hunting and forest exploitation have been threatening the health of this vibrant forest. With more than 90% of the commune population relying on fishing, the catch in the lake has been declining.

To combat this, sustainable tourism – where neither the natural environment nor the socio-cultural fabric of the host communities should be impaired by the arrival of tourists – has been introduced to the commune. By providing an alternative source of income, a responsible tourism plan in Phat Sanday is a means of conserving the environment and enhancing the livelihoods of local people.

“Some villagers, especially the youth, move to the city and neighbouring countries to find jobs because there aren’t many available here,” says Mr Leng Sok, a commune council member of Phat Sanday. “Sustainable tourism can help generate income for people who are providing boat, food and accommodation services to tourists. To attract more tourists, our natural resources will need to be protected and sustainably managed.”

Funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and implemented by Wild Cambodia Organisation, the project that Mr Leng is part of emphasises the importance of using participatory approaches to involve villagers in the development and implementation of a ‘responsible tourism master plan.’ The involvement of villagers in the plans not only allows them to contribute their traditional knowledge on their surrounding environments, but also empowers them to take ownership of environmental conservation and their own livelihood enhancement.

Photo: Consultation meeting with local tourism working group © Wild Cambodia Organisation

“When tourism is fully developed, many tourists will come to visit our community and people in our commune will be able to earn more money. To provide good services, we need to train local people in hospitality, especially in activities such as cooking, operating boats, guiding tours etc. This requires a sustainable funding stream. As agreed in our workshops, we plan to use the profit generated from tourism to support conservation activities and commune development. This includes education, health and infrastructure,” said Mr Khoeung, leader of the Phat Sanday Community Protected Area.

This year’s theme for International Day for Biological Diversity is “Biodiversity and Tourism”.

As reflected in the Cambodian project above, attractive landscapes and rich biodiversity are of great importance to tourism economies. The protected areas of South and Southeast Asia are particularly important for tourism and are drawing an increasingly large number of domestic and international visitors. The total contribution of tourism to the gross domestic product in the Asia-Pacific region was approximately US $2,270 billion in 2016, and approximately 159 million people in the Asia-Pacific region are working in jobs related to the tourism sector.

Tourism also relates to many of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Some focus on reducing damage to biodiversity from tourism, while others focus on pursuing positive contributions of tourism through community engagement and raising awareness for biodiversity, protected areas and habitat restoration.

Recognising the importance of tourism in biodiversity conservation, many programmes and organisations are already working with local communities to ensure that tourism not only benefits the economy but also the environment.

CEPF, for example, has supported a number of sustainable tourism projects in the Indo-Burma region since 2008. Some of the projects train local tour guides in ecotourism while others provide support in the development of policies for sustainable tourism.

Another grant-making mechanism, Mangroves for the Future (MFF), a partnership-based coastal programme co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP, has been supporting over 30 projects that focus on sustainable tourism development, since 2007. In India, the Grande & Bat Island ecosystem project assessed and analysed tourism-related threats to the island’s marine ecosystem. The project also trained 40 tour-boat operators on implementing sustainable practices for dolphin watching.

While tourism benefits local communities – both economically and socially- the natural environment cannot be sacrificed in the process. Tourism must be practised responsibly and sustainably, so as to ensure that the biodiversity and species that are critical for maintaining balance in ecosystems are safeguarded.

As a step in achieving this, local and national governments, tourism industries, businesses and local communities need to work together, as part of an inclusive and participatory process, to design the vision and way forward for a sustainable future.

 

Access the article here.

By the IUCN

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World Wetlands Day: IUCN launches regional project to enhance resilience of wetlands in Lower Mekong countries

Categories: Asia, Climate, Featured Post, Planet
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On the occasion of World Wetlands Day on February 2, IUCN is announcing the launch of a regional project to enhance the resilience of wetlands in Lower Mekong countries. Funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), and to be implemented until 2020, the Mekong WET: Building Resilience of Wetlands in the Lower Mekong Region” project aims to build climate resilience by harnessing the benefits of wetlands in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam.


wetlands in Lower Mekong

Photo: © Pheakdey Sorn/IUCN

Mekong WET will help the four countries to address their commitments to the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, and to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. With wetlands featured as a key ecosystem, the project also supports governments in implementing their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) under the Convention on Biological Diversity and pursuing their commitments on climate change adaptation and mitigation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. By International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Read more.

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Mangroves Are Essential to Your Next Great Dive

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Mangroves in Florida Everglades

Image Source: Reef-World Foundation

Your dive daydreams probably include a beautiful coral reef, but next time you’re imagining your next scuba vacation, take a moment to consider the mangroves.

When you daydream about your next incredible diving vacation, you probably picture a vibrant coral reef. Bright rays of golden sunlight burst through crystal-clear waters to illuminate a world filled with non-stop life and color. You probably don’t think about the murky depths of mangrove forests, characterized by darkness and poor visibility. Divers rarely give these ecosystems a second thought, but mangroves are essential to your next great dive. By Charlie Wiseman, Reef-World Foundation.

Continue reading on Scuba Diver Life!

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Here is why you should source food locally!

Categories: Green Tips
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local food: farmers-market-local-produce-520

Image Source: UCLA – IOES

All local foods are picked at their peak so they are far more tasty and appealing but also much more healthier. Since the food will be consumed in a shorter period, it has less time to lose its nutrients. Imported foods aren’t as fresh as they travel and spend time in warehouses so farmers need to add preservatives.

Buying local food serves local farmers as they receive the full retail price of their produce and do not have to pay for transportation, processing, packaging, refrigeration and marketing. This also helps the environment as transportation, processing and packaging pollute enormously for example: The average food item travels 1,500 miles before reaching our kitchens.

By supporting local agriculture you also ensure that farmers will not have to sell their land that provides ecosystem services such as wildlife habitats and supports local economies. A study published by The American Farmland Trust states that farms pay more taxes than the services they receive, enriching the local community.

In buying local produce, the proceeds remain in the community, as stated in the Times.

The CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programme found that when food is purchased locally, twice the money remains within the local community. So buy local foods, found in the surrounding farms, farmers’ markets and some grocery and natural food stores.

Ten reasons to buy local food

Gastro tourism draws billions in revenue worldwide. Tourists travel specifically to experience national, regional and local foods. Food also occupies a major part of life in different countries. Supporting local food isn’t just economically and environmentally beneficial- it also sustains a culture. You can provide customers/tourists with tips on where to find restaurants who source food locally. There are various websites available that are listing these kinds of restaurants, including:

People do appreciate locally sourced food. Look at FAO’s guide on Understanding your Customers.

To learn more about how you can help the environment by purchasing food locally click here.

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Best Branded Accommodation – 2015 InSPIRE Awards

El Nido, PhilippinesTen Knots Development Corporation owns and operates the four El Nido Resorts in Northern Palawan, named after the island where they are found: Miniloc, Lagen, Pangulasian in the Municipality of El Nido, and Apulit in the Municipality of Taytay. Bounded by the South China Sea in the west and the Sulu Sea in the east, El Nido and Taytay are small archipelagos in themselves, with close to 100 islands between them. Both Municipalities are areas of high biodiversity such that the Philippine Government was compelled to declare the whole of El Nido and portions of Taytay a Managed-Resource Protected Area in 1998.

In 1982, the first El Nido Resort opened as a dive camp with 16 rooms at Miniloc Island. Over a period of 30 years, it grew from one resort to four, with each resort having no more than 51 rooms. More importantly, the Company has earned its place in history as having put El Nido in the tourism map and, in spite of changes in ownership over the years, has forged a reputation of being at the forefront of responsible tourism in the entire country and beyond. Today, it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ayala Hotels and Resorts Corporation (AHRC). AHRC belongs to the Ayala Group of Companies, one of the largest and oldest conglomerates in the Philippines that has a growing portfolio in the ASEAN region.

Acquired by Ayala in 2010, El Nido Resorts is the first in the conglomerates’ brands that specializes in island resorts. Well-known for good corporate governance and stability, the Ayala brand provides El Nido Resorts a stronger platform on which it could deliver its offerings of sustainable tourism to an even larger international and diverse audience.

El Nido Resorts have been operating within a quadruple bottom line framework of financial growth, environmental stewardship, community engagement, and organizational development. We pioneered green technologies in island resorts, such as sewage treatment plants, desalination plants, nature farming, ecological solid waste management, among others. Hosts to fragile ecosystems, these small islands where our resorts operate cannot be experimented with, and so anything that is introduced should have as minimal ecological footprint as possible.

 

For more information: El Nido Resorts website

World’s largest ocean cleanup operation one step closer to launch

 

November 13 2015 – A crowdfunded 100km-long boom to clean up a vast expanse of plastic rubbish in the Pacific is one step closer to reality after successful tests of a scaled-down prototype in the Netherlands last week.

Further trials off the Dutch and Japanese coasts are now slated to begin in the new year. Arthur Neslen Read more.

 

October 4 2015 – Craig Packer likes sticking his shaggy academic head into dangerous places. He’s had death threats, confronted megalomaniac politicians, been run out of countries and mugged. But the man who has spent 30 years trying to study and save lions came close to real fear last month. John Vidal Read more.

 

This study investigated the importance of aquatic ecosystems to tourism and recreation and assessed the potential and current impacts of this resource use on the sustainability of aquatic ecosystems in Australia. Through literature searches and the development of surveys we aimed to integrate current ‘on-the-ground’ activities with what is known of the impacts of tourism and recreation on aquatic ecosystems worldwide. We propose a suite of research and development priorities and opportunities arising from this that will enhance our understanding of ecosystem responses to tourism and recreation and facilitate the sustainable management of Australia’s in demand aquatic resources.

by Wade L. Hadwen, Angela H. Arthington, Paul I. Boon, Muriel Lepesteur and Arthur McComb

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Rivers, Streams, Lakes and Estuaries: Hot Spots for cool Recreation and Tourism in Australia

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In light of the rapidly growing tourism industry in the region, excessive tourist use of the dune lakes on Fraser Island could deleteriously affect their ecology and in turn, their aesthetic appeal to tourists. The findings from this research study suggest that the current level of tourist pressure on the perched dune lakes on Fraser Island is likely to have a significant long-term impact on the ecological health of these systems.

by Wade Hadwen, Angela Arthington, Stuart Bunn and Thorsten Mosisch

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Effects of Tourism on Fraser Islands Dune Lakes

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The International Ecotourism Society, TIES, defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” The concept arose in the 1970s from the general global environmental movement, and by the 1990s was one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors. Ecotourism appeals to responsible travelers who want to minimize the negative impacts of their visit, and who take special interest in local nature and cultures. Carole Simm. Read more.

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