“Sustainable Tourism: Boon or Dilemma for Biodiversity and Community Development” ---A case study: ACAP area of Nepal
ACAP was executed in Ghandruk with the motive of involving local people in resource planning and management. Ghandruk village has now established itself as a model village, a successful outcome of people-centered approach after 14 years of execution of ACAP.
There is highest level of community participation in natural resource management in Ghandruk village. Via CAMC- purely community empowered organization, local people’s knowledge and practices are incorporated in different phases of conservation and development activities, right from planning to evaluation. At the beginning of execution, however, local communities have perceived ACAP as a mode of restricting their access to natural resources. Different NRC programs have facilitated to bring attitudinal change in local people, and thus motivating them to take their own initiatives in conservation issues. Needless to say, environmental concerns in Ghandruk are now the primary concerns of local people as well. This is because of more than 70 percent of people of Ghandruk are directly or indirectly depend upon tourism industry.
Ongoing forest protection practices and more frequent plantation programs have strengthened the forest resource management in the area. In addition, gradual promotion of AEP has served to reduce over limitation of forest resources. In Ghandruk, local people are leaders, not followers. The statement given by Bells (1997) community based approaches to forest management may improve the access to resource, improve the relationship between stakeholders, increase skills and confidence among community groups and positive contribution to increasing sustainability has been verified in Ghandruk village.
Tourism development plays a very important role in the economic development of Ghandruk. As shown in result, tourism has contributed to the foreign exchange earnings, employment generation, regional development etc. Ecotourism is an industry with many pros and cons. It can both help sustain ecosystems and help 67 degrade them, depending on implementation and management. Ecotourism can protect ecosystems by preventing erosion, preserving biological integrity, promoting conservation education and providing economic incentives for sustainable use. Working with communities affected by a protected area is paramount in achieving their support and cooperation.
Traditional forms of nature-based tourism (e.g. ACAP area of this study) incur more negative environmental, economic, and socio-cultural impacts but have greater economic benefits, which are unequally distributed. On the positive side, tourism is increasingly seen as one of the catalysts for environmental conservation. As a result, several pilot programs have been designed to promote tourism that achieves the twin goals of local development and environmental conservation, eventually opening up new opportunities for promoting ecotourism. Therefore, the study suggests that there is a trade-off between economic benefits and environmental and social-cultural costs, which requires a good balance to implement the concept of ecotourism.