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Ecologically sensitive areas such as coral reefs and coastal areas, are regions where natural resources are critically endangered by physical changes. In such areas the following three basic principles of the Convention on Biodiversity apply:
- Conservation of biological diversity.
- Sustainable use.
- Equitable sharing of benefits among local community and indigenous people.
Many of these sensitive areas attract tourism because of their exceptional features such as beautiful landscapes or unique ecologies. Sensitive habitats hold the main assets, on which the tourism industry depends, making their conservation an absolute requirement. Tourism can make a direct contribution to the protection of such sensitive areas, through:
Direct financial contributions - revenue from fees and similar sources can be allocated specifically to pay for their protection and management
- Government financial contributions - user fees, income taxes, taxes on sales or rental of recreation equipment, and license fees for activities such as hunting and fishing can provide governments with the funds needed to manage natural resources.
- The provision of environmental infrastructure - sewage treatment facilities
- Improved management - Sound environmental management of tourism facilities and especially hotels can increase the benefits to natural areas.
- Awareness raising and education
- The provision of alternative employment - as an alternative to development scenarios that may have greater environmental impacts
- The creation of protected areas, national parks, cultural and natural sites - for the preservation and conservation of sensitive areas.
Regulatory measures implemented in sensitive areas often help offset negative impacts on their habitats and associated biodiversity. For instance, controls on the number of tourist activities, numbers and movement of visitors within particular areas can limit and minimise impacts on the ecosystem and help maintain the integrity of the site. Such limits can also reduce the negative impacts on ecosystem resources. This strategy is being used in the Galapagos Islands, where the number of ships allowed to cruise the archipelago is limited, and only designated islands can be visited, in order to ensure visitors have little impact on surrounding environment and animal habitats.
Surfrider Foundation The Surfrider Foundation is a grassroots, non-profit, environmental organizatio...