Ecotourism And Sustainability In Community-driven Ecological Restoration: Case Studies From New Zealand
Free (open access)
D. M. Campbell-Hunt
Funding the conservation and restoration of protected natural areas is a challenge in many countries and contexts. This is especially so where the initiative has been taken by a community group that lacks guaranteed long-term access to a source of operating income. Such groups may initiate tourist operations in order to provide ongoing revenue for ecosystem protection and restoration. Can tourism fund the protection and restoration of an indigenous ecosystem? How can tourism be managed so that it does not impact negatively on ecosystem protection? This paper addresses these questions using case study research from New Zealand, a country facing important conservation issues and where tourism is a major component of the economy. The research comprises six case studies in which exclusion fencing has been used to protect indigenous New Zealand forest ecosystems from the impacts of alien pest mammals. In five of the six cases a community-based charitable trust is driving the project. Data analysis is at an early stage, but some interesting themes are emerging. Tourism is valued by these groups because of the education and advocacy opportunities it offers, as well as for its potential financial contribution. Thus these groups are prepared to meet the additional costs of creating a tourist operation, although this can give rise to philosophical tensions when organisational members are motivated primarily by ecological outcomes. The financial potential of tourism is perceived as location-sensitive; only two of these case studies expect to achieve full financial self-reliance through tourism. The ecological risks of tourism are seen as manageable through such tools as ecological management zones. Keywords: New Zealand case studies, ecological restoration, community-driven, sustainability, tourism, ecological management zones.
New Zealand case studies, ecological restoration, community-driven,sustainability, tourism, ecological management zones.