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Ecotourism & the Environment

The first assignment serves to get you started on your final assignment – to select a potential topic for the second assignment and complete a preliminary environmental assessment of your project.
In the lesson notes and on the discussion board you will have examined several sites on the internet that are linked to ecotourism. This could include a broad range of sites such as private enterprises (e.g. whale-watching tour company) or facilities (e.g. an ecolodge), it could be public spaces such as a park or agency (e.g. government or non-government organization).
Part A: After having examined a variety of ecotourism opportunities and have considered different biomes, you are to provide a short proposal of an ecotourism activity or facility (or combination) that you would like to develop in either the Savanna or Tropical Forest biomes. This is not an existing facility, it is one that you are creating you can have any budget you like, any location, any target group. It is not a review of an existing venture but you can pattern it after any you have read about. This is your chance to create your ultimate eco-vacation (if it becomes a reality after you graduate, I do get 10% commission for inspiring you).
This proposal will include:

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  • Two or three sentences describing the project: what are the main activities or services of the facility?
  • A justification of the project’s importance to the environment, community, etc.
  • Who is the target customer or audience?
  • Where is it going to be? For this assignment you need to situate your proposed venture in either the Savanna or Tropical Forest biomes. This may require reading ahead in the lessons and text to become familiar with these regions

For the last part, if you are not that familiar with world regions or biomes, you can use the early exercises in module one and web links to gain a better knowledge of world biomes. Also you should read through Chapters 8 and 9 in the text, Weaver presents a good overview of most areas of the globe. This section (Part A) should not be more than a page (200-300 words).
Parts B and C will help you prepare the environmental side of your proposal. Projects that involve altering the environment (construction, activities, etc.) should have an environmental impact assessment (EIA) completed before they are started. To help you understand the impacts of your proposal you will complete several short exercises. In the first case you will consider possible impacts of your proposal and in the second complete a rudimentary EIA of your project.
Part B: You are to prepare a brief overview of the possible environmental impacts (air, water, land and life forms) that your ecotourism project could have in your chosen location.
For your assignment become acquainted with the location and prepare a short overview of the main environmental impacts that ecotourism could have. You need to consider what components of the water, land, etc. that will be most affected. You will want to research impacts of similar activities or projects or impacts specific to the location (i.e. aquatic environments, forested environments etc). You can use the internet to find reference material as well as any other journals or other print sources. Remember to keep it brief, you are primarily identifying the main possible impacts (8-10) with a short description or explanation for each. This section should not be more than two pages (400-600 words). You can use bullet points rather than formal essay style (as in the example below) but be sure to cite your references PROPERLY and include a proper reference list (such as APA style format).#

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*Note  Although your venture is situated in a specific biome and you should try to bring in material that focuses on these regions, you are not limited to biome-specific articles.  You can also consider articles that deal with the environmental impact from a general point of view.  For instance, if your impact is trampling of sensitive vegetation from too much hiking in a public park, the paper could deal with trampling in parks from excess visitors in North American parks and then applied to your region.
Example: Scuba Diving on Grand River, Ontario, Canada

  • Damage to Fish habitat: Scuba diving and diving equipment can lead to damage to river beds and aquatic vegetation by stiring up contents, displacing or uprooting vegetation, or physically damaging plants and river bed debris that acts as fish habitat.
  • Water pollution from powerboats: Power boats require fuel and oil which then ends up in teh water system, polluting the waterways, altering water pollution levels and potentially threatening aquatic life (Worachananant et al., 2008).
  • Change in fish breeding behaviour: The presence of people as well as the noise generated by scuba diving equipment and motor boats who access scuba areas can interrupt mating behaviour or disturb breeding aquatic species. This can lead to a change in location of breeding to other areas which may be less successful or it can stop breeding altogether by placing stress on the aquatic species who spend their time trying to flee from divers and noise rather than breeding.

Worachananant, S., Carter, R.W., Hockings, M., Reopanichkul, P. (2008) Managing the impacts of SCUBA divers on Thailand’s Coral Reefs. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 16 (6), pp645-663.
Part C: You are to complete the scoping process of an environmental assessment (EA) for your ecotourism proposal (chosen in Part A). I am not expecting the full process of an environmental assessment but rather an outline of what you consider could be the important environmental aspects of your project. You will complete a chart and write a short essay.

You will address the impacts that you outlined in Part B. Complete a chart that identifies areas of the environment that are predicted to be impacted (water quality, water quantity, etc.) from Part B, actions from your project (such as building construction, trail development, etc.) that are responsible for those impacts, level of impact (rank the significance), and mitigation. Mitigation will involve the possible solutions you can implement to reduce the impacts of your proposal. There is a section of final notes or other comments for you to include any other information that is relevant or would add to the assessment (such as will the impact be an ongoing problem or short term or should monitoring be included?).

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