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Tourism can adversely impact habitats and biodiversity. However, if properly managed, tourism and recreation activities in the coastal zone can promote conservation of ecosystems and economic development.
Promoting biodiversity research is an important component of its preservation. Up-to-date quantitative and qualitative data lay a foundation to all types of activities involved in the conservation of biodiversity. Biodiversity inventories should be a priority for all countries. Similarly, long-term, site-specific, multidisciplinary research on the links among biodiversity, sustainable economic development and conservation is important. Rapid ecological assessments are a fast way to gather information about the biodiversity of an area. Research should include a balance between basic and applied research. Included in all this should be improving skills and institutional capacity, and an awareness of the rights of the local people and the responsibilities of researchers. Some of the key biodiversity research topics include:
- Inventory of species, and ecosystem diversity.
- Estimation of how fast biological diversity is changing and how change will affect community structure and ecosystem processes.
- Determination the consequences of anthropogenic and other environmental changes and on the evolution of species.
- Research on rare and endangered species in order to develop the scientific information needed to sustain populations and stop their decline.
- Determining patterns and indicators of ecological responses to stress in order to develop techniques to assess the status of ecological systems, to assess and forecast stress, and to monitor the recovery of damaged ecosystems.
- Determining impacts of changes in land use patterns and the uses of water resources on species diversity and ecological processes.
- Long term ecological research at selected sites in order to advance understanding of ecosystem composition, structure and function.
|< p align="justify">Though there has been an increase in the number of studies attempting to gain a better understanding of the impacts of tourism on the environment, many areas warrant further investigation (e.g. Impact of SCUBA divers on reefs, long term impacts of whale watching tours on wildlife). Examples of ongoing research include:|
- Impacts of whale watching on sperm whales off Kaikoura, New Zealand
- The effect(s) of tourism activities on bottlenose dolphins in New Zealand.
- The development of strategic policy and planning frameworks which can guide the sustainable use of natural and cultural resources for tourism and outdoor recreation purposes carrying capacity.
- The economics of coastal foreshore and beach management The causes of failure of government-initiated tourism enterprises.
- Industry self-regulation to minimise the adverse effects of boats on the marine environment: Tour boat operators in Australia.
- The effects of recreational scuba diving and tourist development on coral reefs.
- The impact on, and the amenity value of, reefs in terms of snorkelling and scuba diving tourism.