Nav: Home

Biodiversity draws the ecotourism crowd

November 08, 2018

Nature - if you support it, ecotourists will come. Managed wisely, both can win.

The balancing act of protecting and fostering biodiversity with hordes of tourists in pristine nature parks is a global challenge.

Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) sought to understand the complex relationships between biodiversity and nature-based tourism. Their findings, in this month's Ecosystem Services, indicate there are pathways to having it all - protected areas with rich variety of animals and plants and thriving tourism. In fact, the better the biodiversity, the more tourists will visit. What it takes to balance it is careful, holistic conservation strategy.

"Nature-based tourism is a telecoupling process that links tourists with the world's natural wonders," said Jianguo "Jack" Liu, director of MSU's Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS). "It is increasing rapidly worldwide and has broad implications for the environment and human well-being."

In the article "Global relationships between biodiversity and nature-based tourism in protected areas" examines the interplay between biodiversity and tourism in 929 protected areas. The authors find for each 1 percent increase in biodiversity, there is a .87 percent increase in annual visitors.

Min Gon Chung, lead author of the paper and a PhD candidate in MSU-CSIS, said that people are more likely to flock to areas that are dedicated to protecting biodiversity. Protected areas managed mainly for biodiversity conservation have nearly 35 percent more visitors than those managed for mixed use.

Chung noted many of these areas are the world's larger, older reserves, and those with easy access to large urban areas are prime targets for ecotourism. Having a higher elevation (which usually means comfortable temperatures) and high national income levels are also pluses.

"What we are learning is that you can't just want to protect biodiversity by rejecting people, but you also can't forget to be dedicated to nature preservation," Chung said. "Good, strategic management that looks at any sides of sustainability will be key."

Management plans that consider both biodiversity and local community participation could enhance the economic development that surrounds and thus provide livelihood benefits to the local residents and reduce economic inequalities, the study notes. In some places where populations and prosperity grow, so does the demand for natural resources. The author's stress the importance of understanding those demands, as well as understanding such demands can come from distant places.
-end-
The paper's third author is Thomas Dietz, another CSIS member and MSU University Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy.

The work was supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA, MSU's Environmental Science and Policy Program, Sustainable Michigan Endowment Project and Michigan AgBioResearch.

Michigan State University

Related Biodiversity Articles:

Biodiversity is 3-D
The species-area relationship (SAC) is a long-time considered pattern in ecology and is discussed in most of academic Ecology books.
Thought Antarctica's biodiversity was doing well? Think again
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are not in better environmental shape than the rest of the world.
Antarctica's biodiversity is under threat
A unique international study has debunked the popular view that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are in much better ecological shape than the rest of the world.
Poor outlook for biodiversity in Antarctica
The popular view that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are in a much better environmental shape than the rest of the world has been brought into question in a study publishing on March 28 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, by an international team lead by Steven L.
Temperature drives biodiversity
Why is the diversity of animals and plants so unevenly distributed on our planet?
Biodiversity needs citizen scientists
Could birdwatching or monitoring tree blossoms in your community make a difference in global environmental research?
Biodiversity loss in forests will be pricey
A new global assessment of forests -- perhaps the largest terrestrial repositories of biodiversity -- suggests that, on average, a 10 percent loss in biodiversity leads to a 2 to 3 percent loss in the productivity, including biomass, that forests can offer.
Biodiversity falls below 'safe levels' globally
Levels of global biodiversity loss may negatively impact on ecosystem function and the sustainability of human societies, according to UCL-led research.
Unravelling the costs of rubber agriculture on biodiversity
A striking decline in ant biodiversity found on land converted to a rubber plantation in China.
Nitrogen is a neglected threat to biodiversity
Nitrogen pollution is a recognized threat to sensitive species and ecosystems.

Related Biodiversity Reading:

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
by Elizabeth Kolbert (Author)

Biodiversity: An Introduction
by Kevin J. Gaston (Author), John I. Spicer (Author)

Messages from Islands: A Global Biodiversity Tour
by Ilkka Hanski (Author)

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity
by Eric Chivian (Editor), Aaron Bernstein (Editor)

Biodiversity (Papers from the 1st National Forum on Biodiversity, September 1986, Washington, D.C.)
by Edward O. Wilson (Editor), Frances M. Peter (Editor)

The Diversity of Life: With a New Preface (Questions of Science)
by Edward O. Wilson (Author)

Insect Biodiversity: Science and Society
by Robert G. Foottit (Editor), Peter H. Adler (Editor)

Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth (CitizenKid)
by Rochelle Strauss (Author), Margot Thompson (Illustrator)

Complexity: The Evolution of Earth's Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity
by Prometheus Books

Insect Biodiversity: Science and Society, Volume 1
by Robert G. Foottit (Editor), Peter H. Adler (Editor)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Where Joy Hides
When we focus so much on achievement and success, it's easy to lose sight of joy. This hour, TED speakers search for joy in unexpected places, and explain why it's crucial to a fulfilling life. Speakers include inventor Simone Giertz, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee, journalist David Baron, and musician Meklit Hadero.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#500 500th Episode
This week we turn 500! To celebrate, we're taking the opportunity to go off format, talk about the journey through 500 episodes, and answer questions from our lovely listeners. Join hosts Bethany Brookshire and Rachelle Saunders as we talk through the show's history, how we've grown and changed, and what we love about the Science for the People. Here's to 500 more episodes!