The Brick Wall Analogy
The planet's delicate ecosystems form a brick wall. Human activity is randomly removing bricks from it. If it doesn't stop, the wall is in danger of collapsing. Wiping out species and destroying rainforest may not seem to have much effect because it is not immediate and we cannot see it. But the effect is devasting - the polar ice caps are definitely melting and rainforests are definitely shrinking, and at an alarming rate. The number of endangered species on the planet would surely surprise you, and it is important because ecosystems are finely balanced and disruptions could have a ripple effect through the food chain and beyond. We destroy a brick, not knowing the effect it will have on the wall.
What it means for you
Telling a starving African who cannot feed his family about conservation must be quite an insult. Elephants are hunted for their tusks and the Amazon is cleared because it provides income for the poor. To encourage conservation in the third world we must first eradicate poverty, but that's another issue. As Western tourists, we can afford to care for our environment wherever we go, and we must.
What is Responsible Tourism (Ecotourism)?
- Knowing about the effects mankind has on the environments and ecosystems that we visit
- Taking all reasonable measures to ensure that our presence has no ill effects on them
- Supporting the local economy without encouraging behaviour that we know to be detrimental for the environment
- Taking only photos, leaving only footprints
What can I do to travel responsibly?
- Offset the carbon-dioxide emissions from your flight - see ClimateCare
- Reduce the amount of flying you do - take an overland journey or cruise out of the UK, or for European breaks consider ferries or Eurostar
- Book your tour with a company that cares about the environment, such as The Adventure Company, Explore Worldwide and Exodus - see the Responsible Tourism Awards
Find out more:
Conservation projects and expeditions (global explorer guide)
International Centre for Responsible Tourism
Responible Travel Holidays (UK company)
ClimateCare Carbon Offsetting
Responsible Tourism Awards
International Ecotourism Society
Green Traveller - online forum for green travel
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