Tourism and its impact on biodiversity is a topic that's coming more to the forefront of debate as people attempt to see the world and its different cultures while also protecting the environment.
Ecotourism, which encourages sustainable methods of traveling, working to protect the environment and the communities working within them, is one way of attempting to limit the impact on biodiversity.
Protection of biodiversity is one of the themes at this year's ITB Berlin and is to be discussed in a number of panels. Ralf-Uwe Syrbe
), a researcher at Leibniz Institute of Ecological and Regional Development, spoke exclusively to 4Hoteliers.com about ecotourism.How biodiversity and tourism co-exist in harmony?
There is certainly the growing future relationship between tourism, the ageing average population, and the goal to increase the importance of biodiversity - the regions where biodiversity is a natural asset will be more preferred by tourists as destinations, and so it is important that the touristic regions be preserved and tourism designed in a way that will contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity rather than damaging it. This is one of the important joint tasks.How does the mass tourism affect biodiversity?
The most important connections occur when mass tourism leads to a change of the land use, to house buildings or to strengthen infrastructure. There are negative consequences that have to be countered, with a corresponding plan to coordinate so that first of all, the sensitive areas won't be affected by those measures and so that second tourism can develop in such a way that the construction does not affect the biotopes [environmental areas].What do you think about ecotourism?
I think that ecotourism will play a great role in proportion to other kinds [of tourism] in the future. It is important for regions come up with long term plan.
We have conducted research with different regions that can offer ecotourism and we have tried – that was the content of our research – to collect and shape ideas as to how different variations can be developed better. This was a chain of ideas we have assembled into a guide which we are going to present at ITB Berlin. We are there to present a guide to tourism and biological diversity at the ITB.
The ideas we have there are examples of regions, like coast lands, Northern Germany, the Alps, the highlands, but the guide is applicable to other regions as well.
The research has shown that ecotourism should not only be driven by big touristic facilities, who have power, that also invest, advertise and attract tourists, but also by smaller, special service providers that have to cooperate in a region and work together on new ideas and concepts. Then ecotourism will have a better chance to succeed. Where are the important regions for ecotourism in Europa?
In Germany, which we have researched, these regions would be the coasts the mountains, and partly also the wetlands, which can also be quite sensitive. Beyond Germany, there are areas we have not yet researched, like the islands.This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.Luigi Serenelli is a reporter based in Berlin, Germany. He has previously worked for local and national publications on society and politics in Naples and Rome, Italy and now works with journalists across the globe as part of the international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Luigi has spent a large part of the last 10 years abroad and whenever possible he boards a train for long distance journeys.