Linking Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Tourism at World Heritage Sites

The US$3,5 million aims to link the conservation of biodiversity with sustainable tourism at six World Heritage sites: El Vizcaíno (Mexico), Komodo (Indonesia), Río Plátano (Honduras), Sian Ka'an (Mexico), Tikal (Guatemala), and Ujung Kulon (Indonesia). It focuses on creating a model for using tourism to promote the protection of important habitats by working with local communities and site managers to benefit from the growing tourism industry. Its funding includes 500 000 dollars from the international cosmetics company Aveda Corporation, matched by the UN Foundation.

Project activities include site-community planning, financing mechanisms to help cover ongoing site monitoring and conservation costs, awareness-building, training programs for local residents and site staff including training local guides, targeted marketing, policy recommendations, and cross-site learning and information sharing

Objectives

  • Enhance site management capacity for using tourism to support conservation.
  • Increase revenue generated from tourism at each site to fund unmet operating needs and long-term conservation costs.
  • Build local awareness of and support for conservation efforts at the World Heritage sites.
  • Provide local economic incentives for biodiversity conservation by strengthening local capacity for creating community-based enterprises and employment through training, technical assistance, and support to entrepreneurs.
  • Link regional, national, and international-level tourism marketing strategies and programs in each country with site and community needs and capabilities.
  • Promote the sharing of experiences and best practices for linking sustainable tourism with biodiversity conservation.

Background

In 2001 the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Foundation (UNF) partnered with Rare to develop to a replicable approach for enhancing the ability of World Heritage sites - and ultimately the people working and living in these sites - to preserve biodiversity through the use of integrated ecotourism and awareness strategies that draw on methods in threat reduction, participatory planning, partnership building, and policy awareness.