– A solution for conservation
The synergy between environment education and ecotourism constitutes
the best and most feasible way to preserve and restore the environment.
Whenever people envisage the possibility of making some extra income
through nature conservation, there is a change in mindset. We were
able to see this when we started working with the neighboring community
Because it involves preservation, Ecotourism may become a fruitful
business, not only on account of foreign resources being brought
into the country, but also because it helps rescue the cultural
heritage of needy populations. Even for the most skeptical, environment
preservation becomes a measurable economic value. Tourists are willing
to pay to visit shelters, sanctuaries or protected areas, to watch
nature in its full splendor.
Ecotourism has become a valuable alternative for developing countries
that are faced with the need to attract foreign exchange. Preservation
of the country’s natural resources and beauty is key to promoting
ecotourism. No tourism activity will ever benefit from manmade destruction
or exploitation of natural beauty in the name of progress: forest
and nature devastation tarnishes any country’s image. Preserved
nature is a luxury that appeals to the seasoned traveler. Aggressions
to the environment mean less tourism flow and this is turn reduces
economic flow. And therefore, the involved communities start to
care. Children reared with respect of nature become less violent
adults. Needy municipalities that learn to preserve nature and to
earn their income through preservation will have less adolescents
turning to crime or becoming outlaws.
Ecotourism means jobs - because Ecotourism needs hotels, inns,
restaurants, shops. The implementation of any ecotourism project
will reduce the community’s fight for economic survival at
all costs. In Western African parks, hunters are hired as guides
and supervisors, because of their experience with animals.
Ecotourism also involves planning. Man-Nature integration does
not happen overnight, but rather establishes a subtle and sensitive
balance that bears no disorderly growth. Many Brazilian cities are
now experiencing the adverse effects of fast growth with no respect
for local character. A clear example of that is Porto Seguro –
South of Salvador, Bahia – the “safe haven” where
the Portuguese first disembarked in Brazil and built the first settlement
in the new land. In the 60’s and 70’s, the locals were
practically driven out of the city, full of historical landmarks,
to give way to the tourism craze that installed hippies, hotels,
restaurants and souvenir shops in their formerly sleepy but untouched
colonial houses and unblemished beaches.
The change of mindset in a society may derive from disseminating
good examples. One is Praia do Forte – North of Salvador,
also in the State of Bahia, where the very first eco-resort was
built in Brazil. The owner bought 120 km2 of protected and untouched
land and slowly, but with good planning, started building a resort.
Irreproachable from the ecological standpoint, it meant a unique
job training and sustainable development opportunity for the local
But ecotourism should not be restricted to legally protected areas
alone. It must also be promoted in areas where such protection is
That is precisely our goal. NEX intends to encourage ecotourism
and promote rural tourism as alternative income generating activities,
in small areas that have this kind of potential. We will do that
through environment awareness raising, training and fund raising
programs that will meet the needs and priorities established by
the local communities themselves.
This project will focus on rural properties that have the natural
potential, where forests, wild fauna, rivers and waterfalls are
preserved but still require planning and management help from an
organized entity that will facilitate the partnering required to
achieve these goals.
This is what is already happening at Aparecida de Loyola and in
some of the farms in the area. The project “Jaguars helping
People” will turn our big felines into luck mascots and that
will free communities and animals from the sad fate they have had
to suffer for so long.
“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”
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