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Vassar College

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Brazil: Amazon Resource Management and Human Ecology

Abstract

Community-based ecotourism can be a potential tool to both promote empowerment and conservation of the local environment. One of the main goals of community-based ecotourism is to ensure that participating communities take an active role in the development and management of ecotourism activities. One way to measure if their goals are being reached is through a system of assessment, through which an ecotourism community will be able to account for the opinions of the tourist, the guide operators, and the local community. The general objective of this paper is to determine how a community-based ecotourism group can account for the opinions of all those involved while still working to maintain their goals. The ecotourism group of Curuçá, Brazil has been chosen for the research site because it is in early stages of development but has already handled several practice tours. The researcher used participant observation and semi-structured open-ended interviews to complete the research. In the group interview, the group spoke, without prompt, of their desire to spread environmental awareness to other members of the community. Important connections were also made between the promotion of culture, the building of environmental consciousness, and environmental preservation. This then suggests another approach to the conservation of the local environment—the building of cultural self-esteem. Both goals of ecotourism, environmental protection and empowerment, were exemplified in the interview. While this project was approached with the potential of creating a system of assessment that would assist the group in understanding the social impacts of ecotourism, it is clear that the timeframe and the context of the group itself have hindered that goal. The most significant lesson overall however is that more research needs to be put into understanding how a community-based ecotourism group can measure themselves in order to improve, grow healthily and avoid the prospect of failure.

Disciplines

Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy

 

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