Bridging USA and Russia through Ecotourism & Natural Treasures Stewardship

Although Russia's protected area network is not often talked about, Russia has a very sophisticated and well developed system for nature protection. From natural monuments, national parks, nature sanctuaries, and strict nature reserves, Russia has more than 200 million hectares of protected area. In the Krasnodar and Western Caucasus region of the Southern District of the Russian Federation, many of these protected area sites are experiencing large increases in tourism and unexpected commercial pressures on their parks. In hopes of avoiding problems related to carrying capacity, encroachment, and unsustainable park-uses, more efforts are being dedicated to expanding environmental education and responsible ecotourism development in the country. Contributing to this effort, Rewild Tourism traveled to Russia and interviewed researchers and park managers in order to learn about strengths, weaknesses, and threats of ecotourism development in the parks. The outcomes of this research are helping to facilitate the transfer of US best practices related to local community involvement in ecotourism, fostering co-management, and promoting a dialogue between general public and local communities at ecotourism destinations to increase engagement in proper conservation of biologically diverse areas. 

IUCN Resolution for improving ecotourism standards and practice

Despite that there are many examples of ecotourism operations that are great for conservation, there are still just as many operations and destinations where ecotourism is having a negative impact on people, wildlife, and ecosystems. Over the next year Rewild Tourism is undertaking research to identify deficiencies in the ecotourism industry and provide IUCN with ideas to help the ecotourism industry achieve its conservation imperative. This research project began with a proposal for IUCN to undertake or endorse ecotourism standards research. It continued through discussion and voting at the 2016  World Conservation Congress and at the 2016 Tourism Naturally Conference. Rewild Tourism is now developing a technical report for IUCN and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council which seeks to encourage more international support for monitoring, evaluating, and managing the impacts on wildlife and nature from the tourism sector. 

Nairobi National Park Situation Assessment

Nairobi National Park is one of the few places in the world where large predators and exotic megafauna live within city limits. It is a beautiful place where people can take safaris before or during their workday in the city. Unfortunately, although conservation is communicated as a priority for the city, because of Nairobi's growth as a hub for industry and services in East Africa, the conservation of Nairobi National Park is at risk. Travelling to NNP in 2015, a stakeholder survey and park assessment was created for park managers to develop their next management plan for the park. It includes a review of the current state of affairs, ecology of the park, actor and stakeholder perspectives, and the threats to the park. 

Greene County Conceptual Plan

Historically, New York's Catskills have been a place for residents of the city and others from throughout the Northeast to find respite and spend time in nature. However, because of changes in land-use, travel markets, and real-estate, tourism in this area is declining and the economy of Greene County along with it. Using a comprehensive economic development plan developed in 2012, a conceptual plan for a revitalized ecotourism-based economy was created. This plan details how ecotourism can be improved in the Northeast US and how policy and zoning can be modified to encourage a renewed Greene County economy by increasing wildlife populations, greenspace, outdoor recreation, and nature programming. 

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Protecting nature through experience.

© 2015 by Shane Feyers