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Ecotourism Module 3 Notes_links (1).docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Environmental Studies
David Morris

Ecotourism Module 3 Notes: The Mountain Biome Important Information on Highlighting:  Green is general important information  Yellow is contextual information, based on the related topic highlighted in green  Blue is representative of definitions  Pink is representative of side notes – “nice to know” information  RED represents formulas Lesson 5: Environmental Impacts from Tourism Lesson 5.1: Environmental Costs and Impacts Environmental impacts can be divided into these themes:  Direct impacts from recreational activity (traditional tourism impacts)  Indirect long term impacts that affect the larger ecosystem (air/water)  Impacts from the construction and operation of facilities (e.g. an ecolodge)  Impacts from ecotourism, such as hiking (soil compaction) Lesson 5.2: Mountain Regions  Mountains can, but often aren’t, considered to be their own ecosystem. o This is because they are often combinations of other biomes (such as deciduous or needleleaf forests; or alpine tundra)  These zones form along the mountains profile  Mountains can be very complex ecosystems with unique environmental issues. This is what can make them their own ecosystem  Mountains are threatened by human activity because of their desirability as tourist destinations o They are also desirable for farming and mining o There is too little land for the demand, which causes resource conflicts Lesson 5.3: Tourist Impacts  Tourism impacts can range from sunbathing to recreational activities, hiking, bird watching, snowmobiling, or extreme sports such as heli-skiing and white water rafting o Motorized machinery has a greater impact  Tourists swimming in pools and gambling at casinos can have a significant impact as well – its just not as direct  The United Nations Environment Program lists three main types of Tourist Impacts that can occur. These include: o UNEP Impacts:  Environmental Impacts  Natural Resources o Puts pressure on natural resources when it increases consumption in areas which are already scarce o Water Resources:  Water is one of the most critical natural resources  The tourism industry overuses water for hotels, swimming pools, golf courses, and personal use. This results in degradation of the water supply and a greater amount of waste water  Water resources are a significant concern in dry regions, like the Mediterranean. Because of the dry climate, tourists can use up to 440 L per day  Golf courses are the worst violators, because they require so much water, and often are placed in or near protected areas: where resources are more limited. This exacerbates the problem. o Local Resources  Tourists have high expectations and therefore can put extreme pressure on local resources when tourism numbers are high o Land Degradation  Minerals, fossil fuels, fertile soil, forests, wetlands, and wildlife are all impacted by tourism. Construction of tourism and recreational facilities increases pressure on these resources and the land. Building materials are often the worst offenders.  Forests can be heavily impacted, because wood for fuel and land clearing have significant affects. o Pollution  Air emissions, noise, and solid waste/littering. Release of sewage, oil and chemicals, and architectural/visual pollution. o Air Pollution and Noise  Transport is continually increasing as tourism increases and they become more mobile  Tourism now accounts for over 60% of air travel  A single transatlantic flight emits almost half the CO2 emissions produced by an average person yearly  Transport emissions are linked to acid rain, global warming, and photochemical pollution  Air pollution has a global impact, contributing to severe local pollution in high-traffic areas  Noise pollution is an increasing problem in modern life. It can cause annoyance, stress, and hearing loss for people – and alters animals natural activity patterns o Solid Waste/Littering  Waste disposal is a serious problem for areas with high concentrations of tourist activities, and improper disposal can be a major despoiler of the environment.  Solid waste degrades the physical appearance of the water and shoreline, and also causes the death of marine animals  Trekking tourists cause a great deal of waste in mountain areas. Tourist expeditions leave behind their garbage, oxygen tanks, and camping equipment. These areas do not have proper garbage collection or disposal facilities o Sewage  Wastewater from sewage pollutes lakes and seas surrounding tourist locations – its runoff can cause serious damage to coral reefs (stimulating the growth of algae which kills coral) and changes the salinity and siltation of the coastal environment. It also threatens the health of humans and animals o Aesthetic Pollution  Man-made structures can look out of place in the natural environment  A lack of proper planning and regulation has facilitated sprawling developments also coastlines, valleys, or other scenic routes – including many tourist facilities  Physical Impacts o Attractive landscape sites are usually transitional zones, characterized by species rich ecosystems. Typical physical impacts include the degradation of such ecosystems o The ecosystems most threatened by tourism include are usually ecologically fragile areas such as alpine regions, rain forests, wetlands, mangroves, coral reefs, and sea grass beds. These threats are often severe because they are very attractive to tourists o Physical impacts are caused by land clearing and construction; but also by the continuing tourist activities and long term changes in local economies and ecologies.  Physical Impacts of Tourism Development o Construction and infrastructure development  The development of facilities such as accommodation, water supplies, restaurants and recreation facilities can involve sand mining, beach and sand dune erosion, soil erosion, and extensive paving. Road and airport construction can lead to land degradation and loss of habitats/scenery o Deforestation and intensified or unsustainable use of land  Construction of ski resort accommodation and facilities requires clearing forested land  Wetlands are often drained for more construction as well o Marina development  Development of marinas and breakwaters can cause changes in currents and coastlines  Extraction of building materials such as sand affects the marine environment  Overbuilding and extensive paving of the shorelines can result in destruction of habitats and disruption of land-sea connections (such as turtle nesting spots)  Coral reefs are suffering worldwide, because of their fragility and the high amount of coastal development, ship groundings, trampling by tourists/divers, pollution from sewage, overfishing, fishing from poisons, and explosives  Anchoring (a boat for example) can cause significant damage to reefs as well o Trampling’s Impact from tourism activities:  Vegetation  Breakage and bruising of stems  Reduced plant vigour  Reduced regeneration  Loss of ground cover  Change in species composition  Soil  Loss of organic matter  Reduction in soil macro porosity  Decrease in air and water permeability  Increase in run off  Accelerated erosion  Socio-cultural Impacts (Not required)  Economic Impacts (Not Required)  Global Impacts of Tourism: by UNEP o Biological Diversity  Loss of biodiversity  Threatens food supplies, opportunities for recreation and tourism, and sources of wood, medicines, and energy  Interferes with essential ecological functions such as species balance, soil formation, and greenhouse gas absorption  Reduces the productivity of ecosystems  Destabilizes ecosystems and weakens their ability to deal with natural disasters  Tourists often unwittingly bring in species that are not native to the local environment and that can cause enormous disruption and even destruction of ecosystems o Depletion of the Ozone Layer  The tourism industry is apart of the destruction of the ozone layer. Construction of new developments and the daily management/operations of the hotel/tourism industry largely contribute to this through refrigerators, air conditions, and propellants in aerosol spray cans contained with ODS’s (Ozone Depleting Substances)  Emissions from jets are also a significant aspect of this because half of all ozone depletion is caused by jets (and 60% of air travel is tourism) o Climate Change  Global tourism is closely linked to climate change. Tourism involves about 50% of traffic movements globally, and air traffic contributes 2.5% of all CO2 emissions Lesson 5.4: Tourism Activities in Mountain Biomes  Watch the Video Shining Mountain o As you watch this segment make a list of the potential impacts these activities could have on the local environment.
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