Mumbai launches Trans Sahayadri trek

With a plan to develop eco tourism, the state of Maharashtra in India has launched its new programme, called the Trans Sahayadri trek.

To be launched this month, the trek will cover routes across the Sahayadris, mountain ranges, from Kolhapur to Bhimashankar. The idea is to involve local and rural communities in the tourism project so that they will benefit from the revenues. Local communities are being especially encouraged to provide accommodation to trekkers, and this is expected to reduce poverty as well as increasing facilities for tourists.

The administration said that the trekking programme would depend a lot on the locals, who would work to keep the zone litter free. Special interest groups will also be created with the help of locals so that trekking routes are kept free of litter, while the groups would also be involved in preventing poaching and forest fires.

Principal secretary (Forest), Praveen Pardeshi, said that the first phase of the trek is to begin next week, and short treks have been planned from Chandoli to Prachitgad. Trekkers would then camp in one of the home stay villages. The trek to Prachitgad will start on the morning of December 8 from Karad, Debhewadi.

Pardeshi said the trek route has been organised and planned by Mohan Karnad, chief wildlife warden of the Sahayadri Tiger Reserve. The state government, as well as the Wildlife Conservation trust (WCT), will lend their support to the initiative. The authorities are also planning to extend the trek route if the initial response to the programme is good.

The administration said that it has plans to create a trekking programme that can last up to 10 days. Each day, trekkers will camp in a village located along the route.

 

Go Eco: Eco Tourism Choices Just Keep Growing

When the phrase, ‘eco tourism’ first emerged back in the 1980’s, it was considered to be a curiosity for the minority, but 30 years on the phenomena has grown to be a multi-million pound, worldwide industry that currently offers more choices than even the most ardent eco-phile could work their way through in a lifetime.

Eco tourism can mean different things to different people, but the most widely accepted meaning of the term is for low-impact, small-scale tourism, to environments that are fragile, pristine and generally in need of conservation. If the traveller is educated by the experience, provides funds through his/her visit for ecological conservation, or directly benefits local communities, then they are an eco tourist.

The eco tourism choices on offer tend to fall into two broad categories, those trips where the tourist simply goes to look and learn without having any direct impact on the local environment or culture, and the more proactive trips that involve the tourist actively contributing to a project or programme that directly benefits the local environment, its human inhabitants or wildlife. The latter could be anything from helping to count the bat population in Borneo, to working on an agricultural irrigation project in Central Africa.

Such is the range of specific tours currently on offer that it would be impossible to provide a definitive list in this article, but websites like responsibletravel.com and iexplore.co.uk, along with many others, have listings for all types of experiences.

Offerings currently available in the eco market include the well publicised and popular, like visiting the mountain gorillas in Central Africa or seeing giant pandas in their natural habitat in China, while iexplore have tours that include helping to build a school in a remote village in Laos, or experiencing a wilderness adventure in Finland, including dog-sledding and snowmobile trips.

It would be wrong to assume that trips involving work on humanitarian projects are inexpensive as a consequence. Earning the feel-good factor can be expensive, and as an example the aforementioned Laos school trip costs GBP1,049 per person for 11 days, exclusive of flights, but bed and breakfast accommodation is included.

Opinions will continue to differ on the positive or negative impact of eco tourism, and there is no doubt that the justification varies dramatically from trip to trip and project to project. The argument that opening up endangered animal species or remote human communities to gawping outsiders can exert undue influences on normal life is a valid one. But just as valid is the premise that in these profit-driven times, communities or animal environments that are not seen to be self-sustaining and relevant will always be in danger of being swept aside by the outside-world’s relentless appetite for land and resources.

Eco tourism undoubtedly brings much-needed funds and publicity to these otherwise vulnerable existences, and to that end, most environmentalists will consider it the lesser of two evils and hope that it sustains its present burgeoning levels of popularity.

 

Six-mile walkway will give tourists bird’s eye view of Amazon rainforest

A British charity is building a pioneering science centre that will feature six miles of walkways – hoping to attract eco-tourists to the rainforest.

Tourists will be able to see spectacular views of the rainforest , and the science centre will be the research base for scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens. The centre will also provide jobs for Brazilian tribes, according to the Sunday Times.

The impressive walkway project will be located in Roraima, a remote destination northeast of Brazil. It will be created by the same designers who built the London Eye and Kew Gardens treetop walk.

The walkway will help scientists study the canopy, whilst visitors will be able to enjoy a unique view from high above the jungle floor.

The two-year project is being co-ordinated by the Amazon Charitable Trust.

Robert Pasley-Tyler, a managing partner of the Amazon Charitable Trust, said of the project: ‘It will employ the local river tribe, giving them a way of making a living without destroying the forest, and also boost awareness around the world.

‘Visitors will also get to see the nearby pink dolphins and the giant otters before spending a relaxing day on a riverside beach.’