Smoked salmon or roasted goat?
April 5, 2002
Smoked salmon or roasted goat? An odd combination perhaps, but
that's what happens when you combine East African tribal leaders with western
The U.N. declared 2002 the International Year of Ecotourism (IYE)
and Kenya played host to the largest regional IYE conference to date on March
20-22. The Nairobi conference brought together governments, businesses, tribal
villagers, aid agencies and conservationists to create future strategies for East
African ecotourism, including strategies on village land rights, national and
international ecotourism policy, wildlife protection, wildlife planning and business
220 representatives from as far afield as Ghana, France and Botswana
mingled with those from Zanzibar, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda and America.
Over 100 East African local village participants attended, the most community
members at any of the IYE regional conferences. While there, they all outlined
how ecotourism has affected their lives and livelihoods.
The aim of the conference was to share knowledge, ensuring that
local cultures and communities understood ecotourism principles and that the western
'gurus' understand local problems, concerns and backgrounds. Strategic plans to
move forward with regional ecotourism and recommendations for action will be presented
at the Quebec World Ecotourism Summit in May 2002 by one representative each from
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The following key points were made:
- Ecotourism as a business activity must be commercially viable, environmentally
sound and market driven, while supporting the local communities directly and indirectly.
Benefit sharing between the tourism partners needs to be equitable, with established
legal agreements that define transparency and accountability from all sides. These
agreements need to address issues of respect toward the local culture and indigenous
knowledge of the community.
- All tourism partners should be involved in the development of the ecotourism
business plan from the outset, especially local villagers. This is especially
important for those villages neighbouring protected wildlife areas.
- Traditionally, local villagers have been the custodians of the natural resources;
they have specific strengths and can be allocated responsibilities within the
development of ecotourism.
- National policies must clearly identify tourism partners and their relationships,
as well as establish the national guidelines, codes of conduct and best practices
that pertain to the conservation aims of ecotourism. The policies should also
clarify land tenure issues defining use, ownership rights and responsibilities
over the natural resources. Finally, national policies should encourage community
owned, sustainable ecotourism activities, as well as provide incentives toward
the development of ecotourism initiatives.
- Any regional and/or international policy should strive to coordinate national,
regional and international standards. Policies should include proper land-use
management and attempt to minimise human-wildlife conflicts.
The East Africa IYE conference was hosted by the African Conservation Centre,
Conservation International, Eco-resorts, the Ecotourism Society of Kenya, The
International Ecotourism Society, Rainforest Alliance and UNEP.
For further information, contact: Anne Loehr Eco-resorts Tel: 254-122-32161
Fax: 1-801-991-7410 Email: email@example.com