I think education is always a good thing, so becoming more knowledgeable about some of our most precious resources is always a good thing but unfortunately that knowledge doesn’t always create action. On top of that, the mere act of traveling to some of these more restricted areas can be detrimental in and of itself and can often offset the good that is being done while there. Furthermore, even under the best circumstances, we as humans still leave unwanted trails of our presence that these areas would be better off without. Until we can find a way to support these areas without doing any harm at all by traveling there, I think it’s best to get our education from other sources.
I think the idea of ecotourism is great, but most of what’s called ecotourism seems to impact the environment about as much as normal tourism. The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal receives more tourists than the land can handle and this has led to plant and soil damage. Also many times money from ecotourism is supposed to go to local communities in the tourist destination to help development but many times it gets funneled to a foreign corporation that own many tourism outlets in 3rd world countries.
A few experiences that claim to be eco, do a good job at taking responsibility and benefiting the environment. If anyone is ever in Nepal I recommend visiting the Astam ecovillage outside Pokhara. The people who run it are local and have worked very hard to improve their environment. All the food you’ll eat there is grown there on the land. Your money will go towards helping the village in projects like getting computers into the schools and building an underground rain storage tank so the villagers won’t have to walk several miles to the nearest river to haul water during the dry season.
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