Is ecotourism both culturally and ecologically responsible? A look at protected areas in central and northern India, Nepal, and Bhutan.

GOULD, Elizabeth - Global Reference Services

Is there a correlation between community involvement and satisfaction among local populations, and successful ecotourism? How do conservation areas and their consequent attraction of tourists affect local livelihoods and attitudes towards ecological protection. I visited a variety of protected areas in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and observed the interaction between the local populations and the non-local staff and visitors at various lodges. This included environmental practices of staff, villagers, and visitors; attitudes towards conservation and local culture; community input into major environmental decisions; and whether impact evaluations were conducted. Although mostly based upon direct observation, I also asked open-ended questions to elicit general viewpoints and attitudes. I seek to understand if respect for local culture and true contributions from local populations helps to make conservation areas more successful. This measure of success is based upon conserving the land and its dependent species, as well as collaborative relationships with local populations.