Economic incentives are imperative for nature conservation, and ecotourism, when done correctly, combines environmental – and biodiversity – awareness and sustainability with local economic benefit.
Rainforests are among the most extensive, diverse and valuable forests in the world. The rainforests of Asia and the Pacific region together account for about one-fifth of the world’s forests and cover around 26 percent of the land area in the region, or 734 million hectares. Asia-Pacific accounts for 18 percent of the global forest cover, where Southeast Asia contain the third largest forested area in the world and scores of rich biodiversity sites. Rainforests also support economic development and contribute to the livelihoods of the community, provide environmental services, and help habitats for biodiversity, including genetic resources.
Conserving ecosystem balance, biodiversity and the existence of forest resources as the life support system for development is essential when sustainably utilizing the potential forest resources to improve the economy, support the livelihoods of communities, deliver wood, non-wood products and landscape ecosystem services, and protect biodiversity protection. In order to meet future generations’ needs, a balance of social, environment and economic aspects need to be considered when developing sustainable development platforms. To develop these platforms, collaborative actions, and low-carbon and green development need to be promoted. Ecotourism potentially fits in these parameters and can serve as an effective tool for sustainable forest development.
Ecotourism plays an important role in raising awareness of sustainable forest development, motivating people to conserve forests, and teaching the importance of conserving biodiversity for human livelihood. It provides economic, social and cultural incentives for the local people while staying an environmentally friendly way to conserving high biodiversity value consistent with commitments to nationally determined contributions (NDCs), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Millienium Development Goals (MDGs), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), among others.
The parallel session on the subtheme “Ecotourism and Conservation of Biodiversity” at the 3rd Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit aims to discuss and consolidate:
- The role of ecotourism in economic development and biodiversity conservation
- Guidance on tourism activities to minimize disturbance to biodiversity in conservation areas
- Enhancing capacity building of a rural communities around conservation areas to receive benefits from ecotourism and biodiversity conservation
- Influence of social media in increasing public awareness of developing ecotourism and biodiversity conservation
- Coordination, information sharing and lessons from regional and international institution working in ecotourism and conservation of biodiversity
The expected outcomes of the parallel session on the subtheme “Ecotourism and Conservation of Biodiversity” are:
- Exchange of knowledge and information among stakeholders, who are actively working on ecotourism and conservation of biodiversity
- Improved incentives for managing ecotourism and conserving of biodiversity
- Recommendations on ecotourism and conservation of biodiversity
A commitment to real action related to ecotourism and conservation of biodiversity
Part 1: An Introduction
- What are the benefits of ecotourism for the nature conservation and sustainable development? And how to prove it?
- How to qualify tourism as ecotourism?
- Lessons learned from current and past experiences
- Efransjah. Senior advisor to the Minister of Environment and Forestry on Biodiversity Conservation
Part 2: The key actors in ecotourism development, their role and motivation
- Who are the key actors in ecotourism development and what is their role? What are the drivers for their participation?
- What are the experiences to date with investing in ecotourism projects? What are the risks and returns?
Break (15 minutes)
Part 3: The need of investment for ecotourism development
- From a private or a social viewpoint, is the investment in ecotourism worthwhile and profitable?
- What is the investment needed to develop ecotourism and whose responsible is that?
- What are concrete actions should take to attract investment in ecotourism development?
- Lessons learned from current and past experiences
Part 4: The risks of ecotourism to biodiversity conservation
- Whether ecotourism can harm biodiversity conservation? And how to deal with that?
Part 5: Conclusions – bringing it all together
- Reflections on previous discussions
- How do you see economic incentives and local economic benefits in ecotourism development? Any real stories, two examples?
- What is the investment needed to develop ecotourism? By whom?
- How to address undesired conservation impacts while promoting ecotourism?
- What kind of capacity building needed in the management authorities and in the local communities to effectively promote biodiversity conservation and to enhance sustainable ecotourism?
- Any best practices on subject matter that you know of?