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close this bookEcotourism and other Services Derived from Forests in the Asia- Pacific Region: Outlook to 2010. (FAO - Forestry, 1997)
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View the documentCOUNTRY NOTE: CHINA
View the documentCOUNTRY NOTE: INDIA
View the documentCOUNTRY NOTE: NEPAL
View the documentCOUNTRY NOTE: POHNPEI


This section contains a variety of country reports, arranged alphabetically. Due to the difficulty of obtaining current and/or detailed information without site visits (which were not possible for this project), the amount of information inevitably is limited. In addition, the statistical limitations discussed in Section 3.3 make it impossible to provide meaningful quantitative trends in ecotourism. Some country-level trends in general tourism are provided for 1994 to 1996 in WTO (1997).5

5 Country-level tourism estimates in this section generally are from national tourism offices and may differ somewhat from WTO estimates in Sec 3.3 due to differing years, differing definitions, and other factors.

Many of the countries exhibit the trends and qualities discussed above, such as non-existent or under-funded interpretive programmes. Because they were incorporated into previous sections, and detailed country-level information was largely unavailable, these trends and qualities will not be presented in detail for individual countries. The country reports are not comprehensive, but are included to further illustrate concepts and provide basic background information regarding ecotourism in each of the countries.


Services of forests are sometimes a subject of controversy and contested in a number of arenas in Australia:

· cultural attachments to place and sacred sites;
· sustainable hunting and gathering by indigenous groups;
· moral and ethical positions on the rights of nature; and
· aesthetics and landscape values.

In addition, and often in direct conflict to those advocating the above positions, there is a well organized forest industries alliance that seeks to use forests for production purposes, and a labour based movement that is concerned about timber-related job losses.

The National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS 1992) quotes the Ecologically Sustainable Development Working Group on Forest Use as specifying three main requirements for forest use:

· maintaining the ecological processes within forests;
· maintaining the biodiversity of forests; and
· optimizing the benefits to the community from all uses of forests within ecological constraints.

The fact that protection of native forests in Australia is such a contested issue is indicative of the difficulties in operationalizing such aims as “community benefit,” especially within a context where “community” is so contested.

This represents a good example of the ways in which different interest groups have acted upon competing values related to forests and services of forests, and is indicative of the ways in which these competing interest groups frame their arguments to be heard on the public agenda in Australia. Forests and their services are at the centre of a considerable amount of public debate and controversy over management, activities and actions.

The Office of National Tourism (1997) reports tourism generated export earnings of AU$13.1 billion (US$10 billion) in 1995, representing an increase of 17.2% on 1994. This figure is projected to increase to AU$21 billion by the year 2000. The industry accounts for some 500,000 jobs, or around 6.6% of Australia’s workforce. In 1995, there were over 3.7 million international arrivals, with an expected increase to 6.3 million by the year 2000. Still, domestic tourism accounts for about 75% of total tourism expenditure.

Japan, Southeast Asia and New Zealand currently are Australia’s three largest tourism markets. Though Japan is expected to remain the single largest market, tourism from other Asian countries is becoming increasingly important. Tourists from Asian countries other than Japan accounted for 26.3% of all visitors in 1994.

As noted by King and McVey (1994:5), “Australia’s appeal in the international marketplace has been based on its unique flora, fauna and landscape,” and images of nature figure prominently in Australia’s promotional material. However, the country has gone beyond simply marketing ecotourism and has made a significant commitment to research, government policy, and industry development.

Numerous studies of ecotourism visitors (e.g., Blamey 1995) and, increasingly, ecotourism impacts (Buckley and Pannell 1990; Powell and Chalmers 1995) have been conducted. The Commonwealth Department of Tourism (now the Office of National Tourism) developed a National Ecotourism Strategy (Allcock et al. 1994) and allocated funding for ecotourism infrastructure development, environmental management, and other projects through the Forest Ecotourism Programme and the National Ecotourism Programme. In addition, various tourism and land management agencies within state governments have undertaken ecotourism evaluations and/or developed ecotourism strategies (e.g.. Chapman 1996).

The national Ecotourism Association of Australia (EAA) was formed and includes members from the industry, government agencies, universities and other groups. Several ecotourism conferences and workshops are held each year at different geographic levels. In addition, a WWW site has been developed for ecotourism professionals, both in Australia and internationally, at:

Though the national government in many respects led the way in ecotourism, this is changing as the Labour government was replaced by the Liberal/National government in early 1996. The new government continues to support ecotourism, but at a lower level than was the case for the Labour government. Thus, the EAA and industry groups like the Australian Tourism Operators Association (ATOA) will need to take leadership roles. This is happening, as illustrated by their collaboration, with support from the Commonwealth, on the National Ecotourism Accreditation Programme (NEAP). This programme, which is industry based rather than government regulation, currently is being implemented and may serve as an important precedent for other countries.

Despite widespread interest and support for ecotourism in Australia, there remain significant points of controversy (Figgis 1996). Government funding for natural area management, though higher than for many countries in the region, remains inadequate, and indications are that it will generally decrease rather than increase. As a result, there is a trend towards user pays and greater roles for the private sector. The state of Victoria (most natural areas are managed by the states rather than the national government) recently has corporatized its service delivery functions, while the state of Queensland is pursuing private sector management of park visitation.

Though there are benefits to both user pays and private sector roles, there also are concerns. For example, user pays is contrary to the traditional goal of free access to all. Moreover, it may increase pressure to satisfy interest groups. Figgis (1996) cites the case of the Four Wheel Drive registration levy in Victoria. This helps to fund track (road) maintenance, but it may also increase pressure to accommodate the Four Wheel Drive lobby in its desire to keep tracks open when they otherwise would be closed. Likewise, there is concern that when managing infrastructure and activities, the private sector will be less attentive than public agencies to conservation objectives.


Forests have long been cleared for agriculture to feed China’s population, and recently loggers have moved in to clear-cut for timber products (Taylor 1994). The implications for conservation can be gauged with particular reference to panda protection. Many of the reserves that protect pandas were proclaimed in the 1960s and 1970s, after clear-cutting had occurred. Unfortunately, pandas will not re-establish in recent clearcuts because of reduced bamboo supply, so clear-cutting needs to be stopped in panda habitat (Taylor 1994). This is a concrete example of conflict between production and services of forests. However, evidence suggest that it is possible for loggers and pandas to coexist, as forests of fir, hemlock, spruce and birch that were selectively cut have a thick carpet of arrow bamboo that pandas can use. Selective cutting may not harm panda habitat, particularly when tree planting is done where slopes are gentle, as that is where pandas prefer to eat (Taylor 1994).

Many forestry issues have resulted from China’s opening up of the economy to global market forces and from the movement towards a form of private property. China’s economy continues to grow, averaging 13% since the late 1980s, and its forest resources are coming under increasing threat (FAS Online). Production is shifting from the northeast’s state-owned forests to collective owned farms in the south (FAS Online). Whilst the depletion of forest resources has aggravated erosion, desertification and stream sedimentation, the planting of the “four arounds” (around houses and villages, alongside roads and waterways) has provided a concrete example, at least in some areas, that reforestation has been possible.

In the more general sense of cultural dimensions to forest service maintenance, forest dwellers are seen as minority nationalities. These people have come under a state whose attitude was to develop “backward” peoples. Hence, it would appear that there are concerns related to the maintenance of services of forests that are founded in indigenous people’s value systems.

In recent years, China has experienced rapid expansion in tourism development and strong increases in domestic and international visitation (Bailey 1995; Xing 1993). In part, this growth has resulted from the political and economic environment encouraging a more market driven industry (Zhang 1995). Though visitation may plateau in certain international source markets, tourism overall is expected to continue its growth. In order to encourage future growth, the China National Tourism Administration will pursue tourism themes that will change each year (UPI 1997). These will begin in 1998 with the “China Urban and Rural Tour” promotion and will continue in 1999 with “Ecotourism.”

China is expecting a record 52 million tourists each year during the promotion, with expected earnings of more than US$30 billion. This growth presents a number of challenges, including the need to more widely distribute tourism (Yongwei 1995). With 90% of China’s tourism receipts being earned in cities and an overwhelming concentration of tourism destinations in coastal regions, the partial focus on ecotourism could help decentralize the tourism industry by dispersing tourism to rural areas (Wen and Tisdell 1996). However, as in other countries, the expected growth in ecotourism will put additional pressure on natural areas in China, as discussed in Section 4.6.

China has been rated highly in ecotourism value (Herath 1996). Almost 7% of China’s total land area is legally protected, with many of the nature reserves located in non coastal areas. Amongst the first “conservationists” in China were the early Taoist and Buddhist religious orders, many of which sought isolated, mountainous areas to practice principles of harmony with the environment. These traditions meant that areas surrounding religious sites were conserved while other areas in China were cleared for agriculture or other economic activities. This has led to the presence of religious and cultural sites within many of the country’s reserves. In more recent times, the growth in reservation of natural areas has been steady, with the number of nature reserves expanding from 34 in 1983 to 763 in 1993 (Han and Guo 1995). Of these, ten have been included in UNESCO’s international biosphere reserve network.

Lindberg, et al. (1997) provide an overview of ecotourism in China. Ecotourism issues there include:

· Adoption of the biosphere reserve as the dominant protected area model. This model is consistent with China’s level of population and priority on economic growth. It provides for local involvement and local economic benefits, two objectives consistent with ecotourism.

· Difficulties of coordination amongst agencies involved in nature reserves. Most reserves are under the management of the Ministry of Forestry, but several other agencies also manage reserves. Moreover, additional agencies play important supporting roles.

· Control over tourism development within reserves often rests with local government, and ultimately the communist party, rather than with the de jure management agency. This complicates efficient management and, as in the case of Dinghushan Biosphere Reserve, reduces allocation of ecotourism revenues toward conservation, environmental education, and visitor management.

· There appears to be widespread support for tourism by local communities. Residents value the benefits of job creation and the development of tourism-related infrastructure (e.g., roads and airports). Conversely, there appear to be relatively few negative impacts, perhaps because tourism has been developed only recently and because most tourism remains domestic, such that impacts resulting from pronounced cultural differences been hosts and guests have not been great. However, in some areas tourism development has led to reduced resident access to resources, which can lead to negative feelings toward tourism.

Several other issues were raised in other sections of the paper. For example, there is a general lack of interpretation and it may be difficult for sites to cater to both domestic and western visitors.


Forests form an integral component of Indian culture, religion and folklore. As Raja (n.d.:1) suggests:

Indian epics are strongly based on episodes in forests, portrayed wildlife as holy creatures, and saints led their whole life in huts called “ashrams” made of wood and leaves. Indians worshipped trees, and their sages meditated under them. Ayurvedic medicine, developed through centuries of knowledge on the medicinal effects of plants, depends on forest trees and herbs to find cures for ailments. Ancient scholars educated and trained their younger generation at their homes situated inside forests, on the basis of which Rabindranath Tagore... founded the open air university at Shantiniketan in more recent times.

Raja (1996) argues that India is approaching stability in forest cover by successfully protecting what is left. He suggests that this is a result of approaching the problem in a variety of different ways, including:

· legal measures, such as the Indian Forest Policy;

· improved forestry research and education, with the development, for example, of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE);

· technological advancement in forest management, especially in increased capacity for inventory;

· participatory management, including programmes such as Joint Forest Management (JFM), village woodlot programmes and the like (Furze, De Lacy and Birckhead 1996); and

· environmental awareness and NGO activity that has occurred as a general result of environmental concerns being placed on the public agenda.

In the context of partnerships being formed with local people, JFM has been suggested as a successful approach to forest management and the maintenance of a broad range of services of forests. According to Sarin (1993), JFM has seen the development of a number of different local institutions that are concerned with the protection and management of forest areas, including:

· groups emerging out of local initiatives (autonomous village institutions);

· groups promoted and mostly regulated by forest departments under JFM programmes; and

· government or NGO sponsored development groups that have assumed the additional responsibility for forest protection and management.

JFM represents a policy and local development context for the establishment of forest management and protection mechanisms.


Indonesia is comprised of 13,667 islands and extends a distance of 6,000 km from the westernmost tip of Sumatra to the eastern border of Irian Jaya. Though the climate is equatorial, it can be cold in the mountains, with permanent glaciers existing in the highest peaks of Irian Jaya. Two-thirds of the country is classified as forest land, and the country contains tremendous biodiversity, with up to 17% of the earth’s species. The country contains some 1,600 species of birds, including the Bird of Paradise, Cockatoos, Hornbills, and Kingfishers, 500 species of mammals, 10% of the world’s flowering plant species, and 663 of the world’s endemic or rare species (Nababan and Aliadi 1993 and other sources).

According to official statistics from the Directorate General of Tourism, international visitor arrivals in Indonesia have increased by more than 400% over the decade 1985 to 1994, with total arrivals in the latter year being just over 4 million (for historic data, see Nababan and Aliadi 1993). Tourism receipts were US$5.2 billion in 1995, and continued growth in both arrivals and receipts is expected. The government hopes that tourism will be the country’s largest foreign exchange earner by 2005, with a projected 11 million international arrivals spending at least US$15 billion (for further information on economic aspects, see Soemodinoto, Lubis, and Oktaviany 1996).

Tourism remains primarily focused on beach and culture, with Bali by far the most popular destination. The most popular packages combine Bali, Central Java, North Sumatra, and South Sulawesi, though there are government plans to expand visitation on the islands of Lombok, Bintan, and Biak. Singapore is the largest tourism source country, while approximately one-third of international visitors come from the U.S., Canada, and Europe combined. However, visitor surveys indicate that most nature/eco tourists come from Europe, followed by North America and Australia (Nababan and Aliadi 1993).

Tourism policies for the current 5-year plan (Pelita VI, 1994-1999 [MTPT 1993]) call for:

· tourism to support quality of life improvements;
· internationalization;
· enhanced use of technology in the tourism product component:
· encouraging development in remote areas; and
· promoting the preservation of natural resources as well as culture.

National parks and nature reserves in Indonesia fall under the authority of the Directorate General Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHPA) (see Sekartjakrariri 1993 for additional background on Indonesian parks). As in some other regional countries, the protected area concept in Indonesia is said to differ from that in western countries, with less focus on wildness (Hitchcock, King, and Parwell 1993:319). Indeed, the Indonesian term for national park (Taman Nasional) can be translated as national garden. PHPA goals for nature tourism are (Nababan and Aliadi 1993):

· to encourage conservation efforts at nature-oriented tourist sites and the surrounding environment in order to ensure the sustainability of site attractions;

· to optimally use the typical and unique potential of each site as tourism attractions;

· to promote employment in addition to business opportunities; and

· to advance national cultural values in the international community and to counter current negative impressions about tropical forest management in Indonesia.

The 1990s have seen increased development of national parks for tourism, with almost all parks now providing at least basic tourist facilities, and with substantial investment in some parks, including Gunung Leuser, Way Kambas, Ujung Kulon, Baluran, Meru Betiri, Komodo, and Wasur. At present, tourists pay between Rp. 1,000 and Rp. 2,000 (US$0.45 to US$0.90) to enter national parks. Thirty percent of resulting revenues go to nature conservation in the province as a whole, while none is earmarked directly to the park being visited to support management or facility development. As noted in Section 4.4, there are prospects for increasing this fee and channelling a greater percentage to local conservation and development.

Despite recent development in Indonesian natural areas, attention appears focused on traditional concepts of tourism, rather than ecotourism. As Cochrane (1996) notes, “the potential for an alternative model remains largely unexplored, with insufficient understanding of the requirements of ecotourists and few concrete examples of ways in which this sector can contribute to the preservation and management of Indonesia’s natural heritage.” Nonetheless, some businesses and other groups within the country have embraced ecotourism principles. For example, Kalpataru Adventures allocates 30% to 70% of its tour revenues from foreign tourists to purchase of local community accommodation and transportation (A. Soemodinoto 1996 personal communication).

Attention to ecotourism has been increasing recently. The first national community-based ecotourism workshop, “Community-Based Ecotourism: Opportunity or Illusion?” was held in Bogor in April, 1995. It was organized by PACT Indonesia in collaboration with the Indonesia Environmental Forum (WALHI). The workshop drew 65 participants from different sectors, including NGOs, communities, policy makers, tour operators, and ecotourism specialists, and has laid the foundation for increased communication amongst ecotourism actors in the country. It also led to the second workshop, held in Bali in July, 1996, which resulted in the “Bali Declaration for Ecotourism,” an agreement to form the Indonesian Ecotourism Society in order to:

· increase awareness to conserve the natural tourism resources in Indonesia;
· develop environmental education material for tourists that visit ecotourism destinations; and
· stress the need for local community benefits.

In addition, the non-profit Indonesian Ecotourism Network (INDECON) was initiated by the Institute for Indonesian Tourism Studies, Conservation International-Indonesia Programme, and Bina Swadaya Tours. INDECON was organized to facilitate networking between ecotourism actors interested in promoting effective and appropriate ecotourism in Indonesia. INDECON defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to protected natural areas as well as unprotected natural areas, which conserves the environment (natural and cultural), and improves the welfare of local people.”


According to Hurst (1990), it is difficult to provide a discussion of “Malaysian” forest policy or use because of the diversity of policy contexts that exist, especially given the relative autonomy of the subnational level of government. Though the factors that have impacted on deforestation have included poverty, economic institutions, and public policy, their specific roles are much more debated.

However, it is clear that wood production is a major focus of forestry in this country, which generates wood-products exports in excess of RM 13 billion (US$5.2 billion) (Nair 1996). Overlogging of up to 300% of set quotas has been recognized and blamed on state government needs for timber sale royalties. Impacts of this type of logging on indigenous people have also been recognized (for example, Hurst 1990).

On 1 November 1996, Sabah partially lifted its ban on log exports because state timber revenue has continued to dwindle from a high of 65% of total revenue (Nair 1996). Despite the obvious economic motivation for logging, there also has been increased attention given to ecotourism in forest, as well as marine, areas.

In 1995, there were 7.5 million tourist arrivals in Malaysia, with over half of these coming from neighbouring Singapore (Tourism Malaysia fact sheet and Tourism Malaysia (1997)). Tourism receipts totalled RM9.2 billion (US$3.7 billion). Tourist arrivals grew 50% during the Sixth Malaysia Plan (1991-1995). Continued growth is expected, with Seventh Malaysia Plan (1996-2000) forecasts that arrivals and receipts will total 12.5 million and RM15.7 billion, respectively, by the year 2000.

Future growth is expected to focus on increased visitor volumes and return visits, as well as targeting of higher spending and longer staying tourists. Some of the strategies for the Seventh Plan include:

· diversification of product and services, including ecotourism, agro-tourism, and rural homestays;

· effective promotion and marketing;

· greater private sector investment and participation in innovative tourism products;

· increased involvement of local populations;

· improved access to and within the country;

· provision of infrastructure and amenities at designated sites: and

· enhanced skills training.

As in Indonesia, Malaysia’s tourism products and services are still aimed at mass tourists. However, products and services for ecotourism are increasing, awareness of ecotourism principles and potential is increasing, and the government has emphasized ecotourism through development of the National Ecotourism Policy.

The national Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism (MOCAT) and the state governments are responsible for developing and promoting tourism generally. Natural areas are managed by a variety of agencies, including the Wildlife and National Parks Department, Sabah Parks, and the National Parks and Wildlife Office of the Forest Department (Sarawak).

Though there have been annual variations, visitation levels at selected natural areas like Kinabalu Park, Taman Negara, and Telok Bahang Recreation Forest have generally shown increases, often substantial, during the 1975 to 1991 period (Mohd Nor and Wayakone n.d.). Visitation data for Taman Negara were presented in Section 3.3. Other parks receive much higher levels, with Kinabalu recording 301,924 visits and Sepilok Forest Reserve (known for its orangutan rehabilitation centre) recording 71,549 visitors in 1992 (actual visitation is thought to be even higher; Empau and Ayim 1994).

Mohd Nor and Wayakone (n.d.) estimate that 7% of all Malaysian visitors can be viewed as ecotourists, with a higher percentage in Sabah and Sarawak. They note that “tropical rainforests are the country’s greatest ecotourism assets due to their unique and special biodiversity and the great concern of the world community of the disappearance of these forests.” Many forests are easily accessible, with, for example, tourists able to visit the rainforests of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) within an hour’s drive of Kuala Lumpur. At FRIM, visitors are able to walk in the forest canopy along one of three canopy walkways in the country.


Whilst the extent and causes of forest loss in Nepal may be debated, there is little argument that it is an ongoing issue. The conventional wisdom of deforestation in Nepal relates to the impact of subsistence families. The realization that a majority of households rely on biomass products led many observers to conclude that firewood consumption by subsistence farmers was the cause of rapid deforestation and desertification observed both in semi-arid and mountainous regions.

Critics have questioned the fundamental assumption that environmental degradation is caused by subsistence farming families. Three significant alternative causes of the environmental difficulties in Nepal often are overlooked: the geological characteristics of the region, illegal timber harvesting, and rapid modernization stimulated by the development process itself.

Recently, calls for the integration of indigenous knowledge into agroforestry projects have become more common. This is at least partially caused by the need to better target research, ethical concerns about participation and power, and the recognition that indigenous knowledge systems are a potentially important source of understanding as complement to scientific knowledge. Incorporating this knowledge into development may be achieved through farmer participation in research planning and implementation, external survey of local needs as a basis for planning, and an active synthesis of indigenous and scientific knowledge (Walker, Sinclair and Thapa 1995).

Stevens (1993) provides an important view on services of forests and forest management within Sherpa culture. In the past twenty years there has been increasing international concern about environmental change in the Sagamartha (Everest) region, including that tourism and changing Sherpa lifestyles and land use have resulted in a deforestation crisis. These conclusions have enormous implications for local resource policy and for Sherpa life. Yet, according to Stevens, major deforestation has not taken place recently, and old deforestation has been mistaken for recent change. Therefore, the assumptions about the traditional Sherpa lifestyles and forest management have had to be revised.

In the Terai, issues are different. Land ownership patterns with resultant levels of landlessness and near landlessness (L/NL) continue to exert pressure on forests. Change may be occurring with the movement towards Department of National Parks and Wildlife incorporating buffer zone management strategies and assessing the potential for this as a mechanism for forest preservation through community forestry. However, the problems remain related to funding of forest initiatives (in particular the national park systems) coupled with in-migration and entrenched landlessness, so there are no easy solutions.

Since the 1950s, there has been a tremendous growth in mountaineering and trekking tourism in Nepal. In 1988, 266,000 foreign tourists arrived in Nepal, with Indians comprising the largest group (27%) (Parker 1993). While Indians visit for pilgrimages, luxury holidays, and buying sprees, non-Indians primarily visit for culture, sightseeing, natural history and a variety of sporting activities. Using the latter two categories to represent nature tourism, Parker (1993) reports that 77,539 nature tourists, 31% of all tourists, visited Nepal in 1987. However this figure probably underestimates the number of nature tourists.

In 1988, tourism was the country’s leading foreign exchange earner, and about 11,000 people were directly employed in the tourism sector (Wells 1993). Wells estimates that US$26.8 million in tourist expenditure (1988) is attributable to the country’s protected area network. Fees are collected by various government agencies for activities such as trekking, rafting, and mountaineering, as well as for visiting national parks. However, for many years, the Annapurna Conservation Area fee was the only one specifically utilized for environmental and development purposes. Implementation of the 1993 amendment to Nepal’s Wildlife Conservation Act, as described in Section 4.4, should lead to a greater distribution of ecotourism-related revenue toward community development.

The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) represents a widely-cited innovative approach to community participation in natural resource management (e.g., Brandon 1996). Established in 1986, it was the first attempt to develop a central management plan to strike a balance between the needs of local people, tourism development, and nature conservation. The management of the area has been delegated to the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation, a non-government organization. ACAP has encouraged local participation in natural resource management, in contrast to the top-down approach of regulations by outsiders, mainly the Nepal Army in Chitwan and Sagamartha.

Through the ACAP, local people benefit from fixed prices for food and lodging. ACAP also has introduced lodge management courses to improve service quality and energy-efficient applied technologies, such as backboiler water heaters. The area has been established as a multiple use area (hunting and collection of forest products are permitted) and involves delegation of management authority to the village level. The aim of the project has been to reduce the environmental impacts of visitation while simultaneously increasing the economic benefits from tourism.

A similar programme has been developed in Makalu-Barun. The priority is on increasing and diversifying incomes to reduce pressure on the core area. Activities include supporting ecotourism, promoting weaving and papermaking from indigenous natural resources, production and marketing of handicrafts, and improved agricultural production (Odell 1996). Handicraft and production activities are estimated to generate local revenues of some Rs. 500,000 to 1,000,000 (US$10,000 to US$20,000) or between Rs. 1,000 and 2,000 per family involved (approximately 10% of average per capita income). The trekking programme is estimated to generate approximately Rs. 4 to 5 million. While the national park collects a US$12 fee from all entering trekkers, these visitors spend an average of US$10 per day in the local communities for supplies, porters, lodging, food, and handicrafts.

Odell (1996) goes on to note that the programme has led to increasing local environment awareness and improved local management of community forests, grazing lands, and natural resource conservation. Resident support for conservation is illustrated by 1) the local arrest of a poacher who was turned in to authorities, 2) the confiscation and reporting by local people of illegally harvested lokta bark used in manufacture of handmade Nepali paper, and 3) a petition by communities formerly opposed to the establishment of the park to be included within the project area.

There are several governmental and non-governmental agencies involved in ecotourism in Nepal, including the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Department of Forestry, Nepal Army, Trekking Agents Association of Nepal and the Department of Tourism. In 1990 there were 82 registered trekking and mountaineering agencies (Parker 1993), yet a survey indicated that few were incorporating environmental awareness in to their programmes.

Problems identified by trekking agencies include the need for education of personnel in the tourist industry on environmental issues, fuel depots, litter control, medical assistance and demand for agricultural produce on major trekking routes. Congestion on main trekking routes is also perceived to be a problem especially in the three main areas of Annapurna, Sagamartha National Park, and Langtang National Park.

Tour guides area required to be licensed and registered with the Tourist Guide Association of Nepal. They are required to complete a nine week training course through the Department of Tourism, though this has been reported as inadequate (Parker 1993). There is a need for additional specialized training, such as naturalists and refresher courses (see Section 4.14).

The negative environmental impacts increase when the movement and behaviour of tourists are not well managed. This is especially problematic in Nepal with independent trekkers. There is considerable debate in the Nepal industry over the advantages and disadvantages of independent trekkers and group trekking. Some argue that groups are less damaging as they burn kerosene (though many do not provide it for their staff and porters) and have licensed guides. Groups have less cultural impact on the villages because they are self contained. However, many groups do not contribute to the local economy, as they bring their food supplies and porters from Kathmandu. In comparison, independent trekkers contribute to the local rural economy because they stay and eat in locally run lodges, but they are more difficult to manage and monitor than group trekkers.

Tour guides are the key to educating tourists regarding environmental and cultural impacts. There needs to be training of “environmental guides” who can accompany trekking groups and particularly those to environmentally fragile areas. Currently, many of the guides accompanying trekking groups originate form Kathmandu and have limited knowledge of the specific areas. The use of guides from the area where the trekking is undertaken can improve this deficiency and is particularly important in the newly opened trekking areas which have not yet experienced significant impacts from tourism.


As noted by Van’t Slot (1996:1), “sustainable tourism development is even more critical in the Pacific islands than in the continental regions of the world because the impact of any development is greatly magnified on islands.” He goes on to note that Pohnpei (located in the Federated States of Micronesia) is showing signs of impact from a spectrum of development threats. This impact is expected to increase as US development funds from the Compact of Free Association will expire in 2001, thereby putting greater economic pressure on natural resources.

The tourism industry in Pohnpei is small, but has increased in the 1990s as Micronesia has become more popular as a dive destination.6 Though tourism is seen as one option for replacing lost Compact funding, there is concern that most of the benefits from tourism in the region have gone to Kolonia Town, rather than local communities (Van’t Slot 1996). Still, ecotourism is seen as an important option and is being pursued on various levels. The College of Micronesia has held ecotourism workshops and training programmes focused on interpretive guiding.

6 Though not a focus of this working paper, dive tourism in the region illustrates the importance of forests not just for forest ecotourism, hut also for marine and other forms of tourism, as well as for non-tourism industries (e.g.. Hodgson and Dixon 1988).

Pohnpei has fewer sandy beaches than other Pacific islands, so forest ecotourism offers an alternative to beach tourism (Dominica provides a parallel example in the Caribbean). However, as is true for some other Asia-Pacific destinations, the forests of Micronesian islands, such as Pohnpei, will rarely be the primary attraction for visitors, but have great potential to complement dive sites and other primary attractions (Wylie 1994).

Pacific islands must overcome distance from markets, difficulties of devoting sufficient marketing resources by small destinations (which illustrates the value of cooperative marketing on the regional level), and competition with existing regional and extra-regional attractions if they are to successfully develop ecotourism, or tourism generally. Thus, while several locations offer ecotourism potential, it is important not to become too optimistic (Wylie 1994; Valentine and Wylie 1993; Van’t Slot 1995).

Agroforestry also has the potential to serve as a tourism attraction, as well as to serve as a means for generating local inputs for the restaurant sector (see Section 4.6). For example, visitor in Rota pay US$35 (as of 1993) for a fruit-tasting agroforestry tour there (Valentine and Wylie 1993). In addition, there is potential to combine marine and forest resources, such as using sea kayaking tours that emphasize forest and cultural issues, including traditional construction of outrigger canoes.


According to Lohman (1993), forest cover in Thailand has declined rapidly since the 1950s, with particularly severe declines in the central and north-east regions. The causes of this decline include logging, development projects, and conversion to agriculture. State policy towards forests, commercial logging, and geopolitical threats have been suggested as underpinning this decline (Lohman 1993). However, pressures for new approaches to land and forest rights are continuing to grow. According to Lohman (1993), these are the result of grassroots attempts at changing the nature of forest management and use. Some of the most visible of these has been with the securing of local control over community forests.

There appears to be a strong need for systems of land management in Thailand to be more collaborative and bottom up, sensitive to the variety of local needs that forests serve. But this is not straightforward, as there are a variety of local levels, each with different needs and wants, and different levels of forest service reliance (Lohman 1993). The task is to provide a mechanism that continues the tradition of grass root activism.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (1997) statistics indicate 7 million international arrivals, the majority from East Asia, with 1995 total revenue of Bt190 billion (US$7.7 billion). Tourism is the country’s largest foreign exchange earner, and continued growth is expected despite concerns that tourism is marketed better than it is managed (Muqbil 1995). Chudintra (1993) conservatively estimates that approximately 20% of foreign visitors in 1990 participated in nature tourism activities, though this includes small-scale beach tourism. Most of the “nature tourists” are from the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, while tourists from East Asia and the Pacific tend to prefer city activities.

Perhaps Thailand’s most famous ecotourism activity is jungle trekking in the northern mountainous area. Trips are led by a guide, often include rafting or elephant rides, and last three to five days on average (Chudintra 1993). Visits to national parks are also popular. National parks are managed by the Forestry Department, and Chudintra reports the following figures:


Number of National Parks

Visitors (millions)
















As noted in Section 3.3, the domestic proportion of national park visitors has been increasing and stood at 85% in 1990 (most of these are students travelling in large groups during summer vacation or long holidays) (Chudintra 1993).

Chudintra (1993) notes that tourism has generated many positive impacts, including new jobs and stronger awareness of nature conservation. However, it has also generated negative impacts, including inflation (land and general goods) and changes in social values. For example, younger generations in hilltribe areas have been influenced by tourism profits and have become more commercial and materialist-minded than prior generations.

The development of mass tourism within national parks has been a contentious issue in Thailand and exemplifies the difficulty of finding an appropriate balance between conservation and development. It is worth noting that an Institute of Ecotourism has been established at Srinakharinwirot University and that international ecotourism conferences have been held, with the second being in July 1996. That conference involved 150 delegates from 20 countries, as well as 80 Thai students.

List of Working Papers already released


Regional Study - The South Pacific


Pacific Rim Demand and Supply Situation, Trends and Prospects: Implications for Forest Products Trade in the Asia-Pacific Region


The Implications of the GATT Uruguay Round and other Trade Arrangements for the Asia-Pacific Forest Products Trade


Status, Trends and Future Scenarios for Forest Conservation including Protected Areas in the Asia-Pacific Region


In-Depth Country Study - New Zealand


In-Depth Country Study - Republic of Korea


Country Report - Malaysia


Country Report - Union of Myanmar


Challenges and Opportunities: Policy options for the forestry sector in the Asia-Pacific Region


Sources of Non-wood Fibre for Paper, Board and Panels Production: Status, Trends and Prospects for India


Country Report - Pakistan


Trends and Outlook for Forest Products Consumption, Production and Trade in the Asia-Pacific Region


Country Report - Australia


Country Report - China


Country Report - Japan: Basic Plan on Forest Resources and Long-Term Perspective on Demand and Supply of Important Forestry Products


Country Report - Sri Lanka


Forest Resources and Roundwood Supply in the Asia Pacific Countries: Situation and Outlook to Year 2010


Country Report - Cambodia


Wood Materials from Non-Forest Areas


Forest Industry Structure and the Evolution of Trade Flows in the Asia-Pacific Region - Scenarios to 2010


Decentralization and Devolution of Forest Management in Asia and the Pacific


Commentary on Forest Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region (A Review for Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua-New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, And Western Samoa


Asia Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook: Focus On Coconut Wood


Ecotourism And Other Services Derived From Forests In The Asia-Pacific Region: Outlook To 2010