Ecotourism is now defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (TIES, 2015). Education is meant to be inclusive of both staff and guests.
Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement, participate in and market ecotourism activities should adopt the following ecotourism principles:
- Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
- Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
- Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
- Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
- Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
- Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
- Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.
How we do ecotourism
The primary way in which we ensure that we have a positive impact over the ecosystems that we visit is by keeping track of native species of flora and fauna of these areas. We collect a range of information on the various species in order to understand them more profoundly, including: their living conditions, and eating and migration patterns. This allows us to both minimize our impact as hikers, and to safeguard their habitats.
To do this, we have become active members of the Citizen Science program run by the Cal Academy of Sciences of San Francisco, California. In this program, “the members and Citizen scientists’ collective observations of plants and animals, wherever they’re found, are beginning to create an important global record: what biodiversity is found where, how healthy populations are, and what’s changing in the environment. By crowd-sourcing this kind of data collection and analysis, the citizen science movement helps science to answer some of the biggest questions we face today.” We encourage all of our clients to download iNaturalist to their phones (it’s available for iOS and Android devices!) and to sign up to this fascinating program which helps us preserve biodiversity. iNaturalist is a place where we can record what we see in nature, meet other nature lovers, and learn about the natural world!
As iNaturalist.org puts it: “From hikers to hunters, birders to beach-combers, the world is filled with naturalists, and many of us record what we find. What if all those observations could be shared online? You might discover someone who finds beautiful wildflowers at your favorite birding spot, or learn about the birds you see on the way to work. If enough people recorded their observations, it would be like a living record of life on Earth that scientists and land managers could use to monitor changes in biodiversity, and that anyone could use to l