What is an Ecotourism Project?
The intention of an ecotourism project is to conserve and protect a specific habitat through research, education and tourist interaction.
Each project is different. Some work solely in animal conservation, ensuring populations are protected — mainly from human interference — while others involve working with local communities to help them either prolong or return to a symbiotic relationship with their surroundings and the species they share it with.
Other projects are a collaboration of groups or businesses within the travel trade who strongly believe in the principles of ecotourism and want to encourage responsible or sustainable breaks in their area. They frown upon greenwashing tactics used by many businesses professing to be eco-friendly and are genuine in the approach to ecotourism.
Read on for various Ecotourism Project Ideas
Are Ecotourism Projects Expensive?
Ecotourism projects tend to be more costly than your average holiday for a number of reasons. Many of them are self-funding and depend on donations or money from those who travel to be a part of the project. Money is needed for equipment, wages, accommodation and research itself. Research and conservation is never cheap.
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Embarking on an ecotourism project is not the same as volunteering, even though some people think it is. They believe if they’re good enough to give up their holiday to help on a project that they shouldn’t have to pay for the privilege, or rather the privilege of having them there. That’s not what it’s about.
Yes, some ecotourism projects cost more than a beach holiday and are less accessible to all, but if everyone could afford it mass tourism would soon follow, along with all the trimmings that come with it — McDonalds, airports and high-rise accommodations.
So if you can’t afford to become part of a research or conservation project, why not book a day tour through locals at your destination or stay in an area that is dedicated to promoting ecotourism. There is always something for every budget; you just have to be clever in your choice.
Ecotourism Project Ideas
If you’re interested in visiting an ecotourism project but you’re not sure what you’d like to do or where you’d like to go, here are a few current and long-term projects to give you a taster of what’s available.
Starting in September 2006 and running for 3 years, Tribewanted is a social experiment, an adventure holiday, and an educational journey with the aims of building a community based on sustainability while learning how every action impacts on the environment in some way. Living alongside the small indigenous Mali community on Vorovoro island, visiting tribe members participate in all aspects of Fijian life during their one to twelve week stay.
The Greenbox is Ireland’s first integrated ecotourism destination. The area of the Greenbox includes Counties Fermanagh, Leitrim, West Cavan, North Sligo, South Donegal and North West Monaghan, areas often missed when people choose a fleeting visit to the country. Check out the Greenbox website for holiday ideas and accommodations.
This not-for-profit organisation offers positions within scientific field research across the globe. Work with the Aleut people of Alaska to help save the local seals or track and monitor jaguars, pumas and brown bears in the Ecuadorian Andes as part of a conservation plan.
Spend anything from one week to several months on one of many wildlife conservation expeditions. At least two-thirds of your holiday contribution goes directly into funding the conservation project locally, for the long-term and sustainably.
Ocean Conservancy’s SEE Turtle program links people with sea turtle nesting and feeding sites in ways that directly support efforts to protect the turtles. Travellers who visit the surrounding communities help by putting money into the local economy. The money generated goes towards providing conservation jobs for the very people who used to poach the animals.
Set on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Ibiza, the Greenheart Ecotourism Project aims to demonstrate how a low-impact holiday can be both enjoyable and productive. Travellers are encouraged to appreciate some of the problems which often result from uncontrolled development and over-use of natural resources in many tourist destinations. Groups visit the model ecological centre, Casita Verde, to experience a sustainable dwelling in operation and assist in local area improvement programs such as beach cleaning and recycling. It’s a far cry from Ibiza’s usual hedonistic haunts.
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