EXPLORING THE SOCIO-CULTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF ECOTOURISM ON THE LOCAL POPULATION OF CAMEROON.
The ecotouristic sector in Cameroon is a turning but comparatively minor industry. Cameroon ‘s wildlife draws both safari-goers and big-game huntsmans, as Cameroon is home to many of Africa ‘s iconic animate beings: chetah, Pan troglodytess, elephants, camelopard, gorillas, river horse, and rhinoceroses. Hindrances to farther growing of the eco-touristic sector include hapless transport substructure and corrupt functionaries who may hassle visitants for payoffs.
Ecotourism can and is nevertheless doing a significant part to development, and in battling poorness even though non without its ain jobs. Many surveies report on the general impacts of the sector in developing states, whether societal, cultural, economic, or environmental. However, the sector can sometimes be discredited as being less pro hapless. Corrupt functionaries frequently embezzle most of the financess that flow into the sector. As a effect of the above, the paper will research some of the effects of ecotourism on the socio-cultural and environment. As an Anthropologists, I will non fall into the trap of judging the sector but what is deserving observing here is the fact that for the sector to be successful at that place need to be some sort of societal comfortss and attractive force Parkss.
Research on touristry in developing states has largely focused on the general economic, environmental and socio-cultural effects of the sector. This sector has many potentially good impacts to locals, but in pattern these have been often outweighed by the negative effects for local people of many African states particularly Cameroon due to hapless direction systems and corrupt functionaries.
There are several signifiers of touristry and grounds of touristry. They vary across civilizations and depend on the peculiar person or groups involved with tourer activities. For the intent of clip, this paper is traveling to concentrate more on ecotourism. Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural countries that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. “Travel to fragile, pristine, and normally protected countries that strive to be low impact and ( normally ) little graduated table. It helps educate the traveller, provides financess for preservation, straight benefits the economic development and political authorization of local communities, and surrogate regard for different civilizations and for human rights” ( Honey 1995:25 ) This signifier of touristry is normally intended to protect the environment, have grosss to protect the environment and eventually to back up local communities. There are some unfavorable judgments that surround this signifier of touristry as to whether it is really sustainable and if locals are really the donees.
There are assorted definitions of ecotourism that have been provided by many bookmans but this paper will briefly supply a few that are really critical to the analysis of the paper. Tikell ( 1994 ) , defines ecotourism as travel to bask the universe ‘s astonishing diverseness of natural life and human civilization without doing harm either.
Ecotourism is touristry and diversion that is both nature-based and sustainable. ( Lindberg and McKercher, 1997 )
What is deserving observing from the above definitions and other scholarly definitions is the fact that ecotourism is nature based and the thought of sustainability characteristics in most of the definitions as good. This goes a long manner to emphasize on the importance of nature to human existences and besides the fact that it needs to be preserved for future coevalss.
Ecotourism is besides considered one of the universe ‘s fastest turning touristry sub-market. This growing has been promoted by Europeans and north Americans to about all parts of the universe either for leisure or for the intent of surveies.
Cameroon is a possible tourer finish owing to its rich touristic potencies such as the natural bright sandy beaches of Kribi in the South and Limbe in the South West states of Cameroon, every bit its natural precedence of hosting several carnal species like the, ruddy tail monkeys, camelopard, king of beastss and giant elephants which roam the Savannah. The bongo antelopes and monolithic western lowland gorillas, Pan troglodytess survive in this aboriginal woodlands with monkeys, baboons, elephants, river horse and forest American bison that are about nonextant in certain parts of the universe, it harbors different bird species.
Cameroon is blessed with abundant, diverse wood and wildlife on the continent of Africa, Nature reserve cover about 15 per centum of Cameroon 475,442km2, an eventual national end of 20 % has been set by jurisprudence ; These include seven National Parkss, three universe Biosphere militias and one United Nation universe Heritage site but the most unfortunately thing is that they are non adequately protected some have earnestly deteriorated due to miss of financess and misdirection, poaching and official corruptness. Forest have been sold off to foreign involvement for ecologically unsustainable logging with no benefit to the local people while looting of rare animate beings through gross revenues of shrub meat has grown and the offense rate has soared, the state of affairs may alter with increasing consciousness of economic benefits of ecotourism dependant on healthy Parkss and militias. The Ministry of Forest and Wildlife in Cameroon has been fighting to set on a statute law to sort of regulate the activities of local communities populating around national Parkss and game militias.
The preservation strategy authorising the Baaka pigmies of the East and South of Cameroon therefore is a seldom success narrative. The state which has a big figure of possible tourer finishs due to its rich nature has been plagued by a hapless political will for closed to two and a half decennaries now. The rainforest modesty nevertheless escape some of these break by the political power that be and is turning into one of the Cameroon ‘s chief and few tourer finish.
Not go forthing out the excessively many ‘romantic ‘ things Africa has to offer such as pre-historic pictures, the African dark sky, a alone beat of life all these experiences abound in Cameroon and that is the ground why Cameroon is referred to as Africa illumination because it has a small spot of what exist in the whole of Africa
ADVANTAGES OF ECOTOURISM TO THE LOCAL PEOPLE
The value of workss used for medicative intents by local communities can be calculated on the footing of their possible hereafter value on the planetary market. Ecological economic sciences, a field that addresses the relationship between ecological and economic systems concentrating on environmental policy and sustainable development ( Constanza 1989 )
Intrinsic value is a much more subjective affair, while most people take the intrinsic value of worlds for granted the position that Nature is really frequently personalized in the sense that it has built-in rights and is as such topic to the same moral, ethical and legal protection is more controversial ( Nash 1989 )
The universe Ecotour 97 the first universe Congress and exhibition on Ecotourism was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 15 to 18 December 1997 it was organized by the Brazilian Society for the environment ( BIOSFERA ) .The conference was attended by about 2000 people from throughout the universe. They shared ecotourism theories, policies, programs, developments and direction theoretical accounts. The cardinal result of the conference was the realisation that ecotourism is non a passing craze but has good and genuinely arrived, bearing the promise of environmental preservation, community well-being and economic benefits.
Around Cameroon ‘s Lobeke National Park, trophy hunting in community runing country is now bring forthing some US $ 50,000 each twelvemonth. This money is managed by local wildlife direction commissions. It is invested in instruction, through the building of schools to supply shelter for kids, who used to analyze under atrocious conditions, proviso of portable H2O through betterment of H2O beginnings and the building of Wellss “The upshot is greater engagement of local communities in wildlife protection” WWF beginnings.
Most natural countries are located in the rural venues ; the development of touristry in such countries can hold considerable impact on the local people ( Lindberg and Enriquez 1994 )
Sensitive usage policies that cause minimal negative societal impact, but allow high degrees of local engagement are required. Jobs for local people are a high precedence, but are frequently hard to supply in a sophisticated cognition industry, such as ecotourism or escapade touristry. The development of touristry policy sensitive to local concerns is indispensable for obtaining community support ( Lindberg and Enriquez1994 ) .Local economic and societal benefits cause an addition in support for ecological preservation.
Travelers seek out concerns that emphasize the character of the venue in footings of architecture, heritage, culinary art aesthetics, ecology, etc. Tourism grosss give added value to those assets. A value that the locals may non hold antecedently acknowledged.
Travelers non merely larn about the finish, they learn how to assist prolong its character while intensifying their ain travel experiences. Residents learn that the ordinary and familiar may be of involvement and value to foreigners.
Ecotourism should basically do good long-run concern that should seek to use and develop local people, purchase local supplies, and utilize local services. The more the locals benefit from the operation the more they will back up the activities, and the better they will conserve the assets.
Foreign visitants who learn about and detect local etiquette ( including utilizing at least a few courtesy words in the local linguistic communication ) experience a greater empathy with the experience. Local occupants in bend who learn how to cover with foreign outlooks that may differ from their ain besides appreciate the extra cognition.
Satisfied, excited visitants take new cognition place and direct friends off to see the same and/or similar things they enjoyed which provide go oning concern for the finish.
The long term benefits of the resource of ecotourism to the local community, and to the operation must be enshrined, benefits may be economic, scientific, societal, cultural, ethical or biological.
DISADVANTAGES OF ECOTOURISM TO THE LOCAL PEOPLE
The Ministry of Forest and Wildlife in Cameroon has been fighting to set on a statute law to sort of regulate the activities of local communities populating around national Parkss and game militias as these guidelines are being executed the rural communities face negative impact as they really rely on the wood for a support or endurance.
Huge amounts or sums of money is being spent and human resources continue to be used for ecotourism runs but this has non succeeded 100 % .There had been stiff opposition in this relationship because ecotourism frequently will do struggle and alterations in land usage rights, fails to present promises of community degree benefits, amendss environment and has plentifulness of other societal impacts.
In a existent universe state of affairs focal point should be made towards educating tourers of the environment and societal effects of their travels.
At the local degree ecotourism has become a beginning of struggle over the control of land, resources and touristry net incomes, there are many jobs abound with ecotourism with the instance of Cameroon, the environmental consequence on the local population and struggle over net income redistribution are merely a few of those negative effects of ecotourism.
The Torahs and ordinances stands as a hinderance for the possible investors in the sector of ecotourism. There must be the prohibition of the publicity of unsustainable ecotourism undertakings and stuffs which project the false images of finishs, and every bit humbling local and autochthonal civilizations and natural resources.
Cultural groups are progressively being seen as a background to the scenery and wildlife, hence they do non take part to the full in the development of ecotourism.
The autochthonal people struggle for cultural endurance and freedom of cultural look while being observed by the tourer.
There are ever bitternesss from the local people for they do non desire this alteration that is being imposed on them.
Tourism has been allowed to develop without any control.
Sir oliver lodges have been built, excessively much firewood is being used and no bound are placed on touristry vehicles, they drive off path and often hassle the wildlife, their vehicles crisscross the zones and necessarily the shrub or forest become eroded and degraded all these at the hurt of the locals.
The ordinances for environmental protection may be mistily defined, really closely to implement, difficult to implement and unsure ineffectiveness really frequently than non there are frequent confrontation between the autochthonal population and the eco-guards, forest guards or the constabulary and the gendarmes who are charged with the execution of wildlife Torahs in Cameroon.
The authorities of Cameroon regulates, administers and enforces environmental protection the deficiency of the committedness or capacity to pull off ecotourism sites efficaciously.
Government spends budget on politically good but unproductive undertakings which has nil to profit either the locals or even the tourers.
The authorities is vested in the benefits non the ecotourism industry which they are supposed to modulate doing restrictive environment ordinances and enforcement to go more indulgent.
The buildings of an eco-touristic building may take precedency over more urgent environmental concerns like geting home ground, protecting endemic species and taking invasive 1s.
Ecotourism most frequently will be that which conserves and enhances local civilizations but in this visible radiation it is clearly apparent that with the creative activity of protected countries or zones local people are forced to illicitly lose their places most frequently without compensation as is the instance in most underdeveloped states
Sometimes the local people are pushed to marginal lands with rough climes, hapless dirts, deficiency of H2O and disease infested farm animal since no veterinary attention is taken of their farm animal. This increases the dead toll of their farm animal be it cattle, domestic fowl or pig farm. Some of the clip the fringy lands do non guarantee for adequate nutrient for their farm animal and for their ain subsistence. Most frequently than non revenue enhancements are levied on their difficult earned farm animal this greatly embitters them.
The creative activity of Parks does nil but establishes a lasting harsh endurance world and deprives the people of their traditional usage of land sometimes this Parks are created on their hereditary shrines which goes a long manner to upset the soundlessness of their Gods, this greatly affects the tradition of the people in inquiry, in some instances may even take to violent confrontations between the governments and the local villagers who see it as sort of sell out and thereby striping them of their autochthonal values.
Hunting which is a passion of these autochthonal people is banned and killing of an animate being is illegal and punishable, these animate beings are their chief beginning of protein and income, but they are prohibited to make poaching or runing around the militias, National Parks for illustration the little small towns around Korup National Park in Ndian division of the South West Province of the Republic of Cameroon, this wood is wholly out of edge to the local people who live and look at this wood for their support same applies to the Menvelle wildlife ( Gorilla sanctuary ) .The Mount Kupe Forest Project, Kejum keku modesty, the Waza National Park, the Limbe Wildlife Reserve, Kilum Mountain Project merely to call a few.
Most frequently than non populations are largely displaced to make Parkss without even taking into account their relocation strategies.
Consequences OF Hunt ON ECOTOURISM
All human actions in natural countries cause some impact. This can be positive or negative and can change in graduated table. How much impact is acceptable? The finding of impact, the appraisal of the acceptableness of the impact, the direction of the impact and the monitoring of the impact must be done. ( Stankey, et al 1985, Prosser 1986 ) .
The hunting of nonhuman Primatess is biologically an old pattern that human existences portion with their closest cousins the Pan troglodytes, runing methods or techniques and forms nevertheless have changed well in recent times. It has been noted in the 20th century that due to the usage of pieces the efficiency and frequence of hunting has increased.
Tourism, runing and slaughtering on nonhuman Primatess has been linked to the outgrowth of some infective diseases, for case hunting ruddy colobus ( procolobus badius oustaleti ) has been implicated in a localised epidemic of monkeypox that has continued for four coevalss of nonhuman to human contacts, this implying that even the tourer who visit these countries are at hazards.
Hunting behaviour by and large tends to concentrate around small towns or new human colonies in logging cantonments or along roads sides and surveies have shown that runing in a small town in the Dja Reserve in the South of Cameroon have demonstrated that both the degrees and impact of runing lessenings as a map of distance from the small town. The consequences have importance for both wildlife preservation every bit good as for measuring the outgrowth of hazards associated with hunting, . ( Muchaal and Ngandjui 1999 )
Both subsistence and commercial hunting with wire traps and pieces are widespread activities throughout the woods of Cameroon. In add-on route webs and increasing chances for transporting hunted games have led to an addition in gross revenues and rates of hunting. Some of the parts of rural hunting small towns in Cameroon have besides been linked to runing and slaughtering apes particularly those of the South.
For agencies of prolonging support the local villagers around the militias in the rural countries tend to make illegal hunting in the protected zones
Hunting additions in these parts in direct proportion to logging activities. When the logging companies open up new countries, trap and piece huntsmans follow in their path. Loging cantonments in the part provide a hard currency market for fresh shrub meat and their trucks are frequently used as a agency of transit of smoke-cured shrub meat to the urban markets of Yaounde and Douala where demand is high. The densenesss of big Primatess ( gorillas and Pan troglodytess ) in the East Province are among the highest in all of Africa. Hunting of these ape species likely consequences in a higher hazard of exposure than the hunting of the other species. Driving the shrub meat trade in Cameroon is the big turning urban demand in concurrence with the opening up of logging grants in the east state. The market among families for sauce readying in Yaounde entirely is estimated at about $ 4million yearly ( IITA unpublished information )
There were differences in the signifier of bush meat consumed with the hapless more likely to buy smoke-cured bush meat instead than the more expensive fresh merchandise. The decision here is that even though of its illegality smoked bush meat is an of import beginning of protein for both the rural and the urban hapless. Urban demand makes runing a beginning of income for rural families.
Some in the ecotourism industry have refused to take Cameroon earnestly as a tourer finish until the authorities begins to take tougher bases against the state ‘s booming shrub meat trade. The violent death of rare wildlife species for nutrient and cultural artefacts was one time believed to be an activity entirely of the native pigmies. Today most perceivers recognize that the shrub meat trade has become a portion of mainstream of the forest or the rural small towns of Cameroon, meat from forest elephants, Pan troglodytess, gorillas and other native animate beings are a popular and frequently preferred replacement to gripe, domestic fowl, or porc, a traditional pigmy will frequently include Pan troglodytess or gorilla alternatively of a poulet on a Christmas dish, of class killing and selling rare animate beings is illegal but Torahs go chiefly unenforced because of a combination of corruptness, deficiency of resources for jurisprudence enforcement and a sort of apathy to the job, in add-on to logging grants that the authoritiess hands out to traders who have small or no thought on preservation.
The exposure to non human Primatess has led to the outgrowth of of import diseases, including Ebola hemorrhagic febrility, and adult T-cell leukaemia. To find the extent of exposure to nonhuman Primatess, individuals were examined in 17 rural runing distant rural small towns in Cameroon that represented three home grounds ( Savannah, gallery, wood and lowland wood.
The convention on international trade in Endangered species found that the increasing commercialisation of trade has led to some 68species in Cameroon being threatened by poaching.
SOME SETBACKS OF ECOTOURISM TO THE ECOTOURISTS
Nonhuman primate ecotourism for illustration gorilla observation has been associated with the possible transmittal from nonhuman Primatess to worlds of diseases that includes itchs for illustration Sarcoptess itchs, enteric parasites and rubeolas, every bit laboratory handling of tissues or fluids of nonhuman Primatess has led to the transmittal of a assortment of infections to worlds.including Simian immunodeficiency virus ( SIV ) and SV40. Additionally the maintaining of nonhuman archpriest pets has been linked to the transmittal of assortment of micro-organisms.
A scope of activities involves direct contact between worlds and non human Primatess and allows for the transmittal of micro beings such behaviours can ease transmittal of micro-organisms from nonhuman Primatess to worlds with effects for human wellness, every bit good as from worlds to non human Primatess, this every bit has great effects on wildlife preservation.
Care for confined nonhuman primates has led to the transmittal of a scope of infections, including Simian foamy virus, herpes virus B. ( HBV ) archpriest malaria and TB.
A widespread job in ecotourism is the confidence of information truth of quality reading of degrees of safety of operational unity and of attachment to impact regulations. Consumers look for such confidences and any lack in these countries can earnestly suppress usage.
Visitors satisfaction studies are going a more of import portion of park and ecotourism direction, they are common in developed states but rare in Africa ( Friesen1995 )
WAY FORWARD FOR ECOTOURISM IN CAMEROON
The local communities must be given position as equal spouses in the venture and their portion of the gross must be contractually guaranteed over and above the creative activity of occupations and by so making the local communities should have precedence in footings of occupations.
Local communities should be clearly identified, their legal entree to the resource, through their legal term of office should be recognized and acknowledged.
The distribution of grosss to the local people should be just, crystalline and accountable.
Capacity edifice for local people should be portion of the strategy, to the extent that there should be maximal engagement of the local people or communities in the planning and development of ecotourism with benefits accruing from it to the local people non go forthing out minority and disadvantaged groups.
Ecotourism operations should and in most instances must be an imperative engagement of large concern grants coming from the West ( spouses from abroad ) in the signifier of people and investing for development, but it must besides affect local communities and single enterprisers.
It is worthy of note that Ecotourism should be planned in an environmentally sensitive mode so that its natural and cultural resources are conserved, ecotourism development does non bring forth serious inauspicious environmental or sociological impacts, the overall quality of the environment is maintained or improved, the benefits of ecotourism are widely spread in the society and ecotourism satisfaction degrees are maintained.
Ecotourists should be environmentally cognizant they should prefer concerns that have active plans to minimise pollution, waste, energy ingestion, H2O use, the usage of landscaping chemicals, and unneeded dark clip lighting.
Stakeholders who can acknowledge that development force per unit areas can consume resources, and use bounds and direction techniques to forestall this to go on can derive regard. Thus concerns that co-operate to prolong natural home grounds, heritage sites, scenic entreaty, local civilization etc, are perceived by and large as good concerns that are environmentally sensitive. This therefore calls for good plannification and execution techniques which must be considered throughout the planning procedure, this planning should non go forth out modern-day and originative constructs of development.
Communities need to mensurate Ecotourism success non by the many Numberss of visitants, but by the length of stay, money spent, and quality of experience. Many visitants may non be needfully better since we acknowledge that every site has a maximal carrying capacity, which must non be exceeded or over utilised, this sort of over use may take to some sort of maltreatments therefore if the capacity is exceeded it could take to the resources going depleted or overexploited or exhausted as the instance may be.
Engagement by the Ecotourists should be encouraged at all degrees and in all sectors since they form portion of the whole web their exclusion will intend that the industry will neglect to be they must be portion and package of the whole strategy. Their engagement at all degrees is really aboriginal, since determinations to be taken every bit involves them.
All resources should be respected and every attempt must be made to utilize them meagerly and judiciously to avoid eventual depletion of the resources in inquiry.
Value adding by all the stakeholders at all degrees will be really indispensable for success to be recorded.
Education and preparation of all parties that are involved, the local communities, the Ecotourists, authorities and those operating in the ecotourism industry this will be a cardinal plus taking to success.
Ethical and moral attitudes, and duty towards the natural and cultural environment, should be promoted by all concerned with the operation that is from the portion of the authorities, the locals and why non the visitants since all of them have a interest in the venture.
Partnerships between all parties involved in the venture should be promoted.
For Ecotourism to win there must be a high degree of co-operation between the local, regional, national and international communities, so that everyone should profit to the upper limit. This co-operation must besides widen into the field of selling and publicity of the said tourist finish.
At the terminal of the twenty-four hours it is the enterprise and duty shown by the community that will find the success or failure of an Ecotourism venture. There are no warrants. All parties involved have to put on the line failure and all parties must cognize this hazard of possible failure at the really beginning.
Ecotourism is integrated as a system in itself, and the Ecotourism sector is integrated into the overall development policies and programs of the country and local programs are integrated into the national and regional Ecotourism policies and future programs if there are any.
It is sometimes appropriate, to make strategic planning which focuses more on designation and declaration of immediate issues or jobs.
All degrees of the Ecotourism industry are critical, and the quality of preparation and the resulting services that are offered must be of the highest quality or criterions. These criterions must besides be maintained and improved over clip and infinite, this will necessitate seting in topographic point monitoring and rating plans.
It should be noted that at the start of any ecotourism ventures, these should be backed by both the Social and environmental impact appraisals. These in a command to guarantee sustainability both economically and ecologically. Research into these societies in themselves and the local political relations can assist place and fling negative attitudes that may deter the natives and even possible ecotourists. These processs should non be excessively cumbrous and clip devouring but should be in proportion to the size of the proposed development as the instance may be limited fundss have to transport the undertaking through this information assemblage period. The sum of environmental and societal impact allowed is a direction determination. This determination should or must take into history the legal and environment policy of the protected countries. Ecotourism is seen as a sort of development and depletion in the instance of the rural small towns of Cameroon, it should be given more orientation to function as a utile tool to local communities and every bit to go sustainable.
In Cameroon there had been small or no consciousness every bit far as the tourer industry is concerned, there has been low impact educational, ecological and cultural sensitive consciousness. All these issues must be addressed by the stakeholders in the tourer industry for it to be sustainable until when all these will be met with, so will it be a success narrative.
In many parts of Cameroon, the engagement of local people is important in making a memorable ecotouristic experience. Even though local people strongly back up ecotourism development, they are involved small with the planning and direction of ecotourism in the part. Therefore, for the sustainability of ecotourism development, future planning should see the inclusion of local people.
Mechanisms should be created to beef up the coordination between different Stakeholders, particularly the locals who most frequently constitute husbandmans etc. The development of policies refering ecotourism planning can be really of import, provided that this procedure is conducted in an unfastened and participative mode to guarantee that the growing of the touristry sector in Cameroon is sustainable.
In add-on to offering equal services and goods to tourers, the local authorities and companies in the ecotourism sector must besides provide to the demands
of the local community. Most dwellers in Cameroon are unable to utilize the same services or buy the same goods that may look cheap to a foreign tourer. The economic growing brought about by international touristry is non perceived as wholly positive by everyone in the small town. Some goods and services have become more expensive to local people. This so gives them the feeling that Tourism in general is non for everyone since the life of the population and the local workers most frequently does non alter much.
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