|Session II: Environmental Management
||Abstract #: 97202
A SCIENTIFIC FRAMEWORK FOR PRIVATE DEVELOPING AN ECOTOURISM PROGRAM
Kimberly J. Bennett, Mary Hudson Kelley, and Frank J. Mazzotti
Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Everglades Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Belle Glade, Florida
Many state, regional, and local governments have discovered ecotourism as a way to promote economic development and attract tourists. Ecotourism in its truest sense, has a broader, multi-faceted purpose, with concurrent objectives involving sustainable practices such as cultural and natural resource conservation and preservation, environmental education and appreciation, and economic development. Before an ecotourism program is implemented, comprehensive planning is needed to ensure both economic and conservation success.
The recommended planning process is based upon a previously developed scientific framework, which is applicable to many natural area management issues. This strategy includes an inventory and evaluation of all resources and development of an ecotourism program contingent upon science-based criteria to ensure sustainability and conservation of resources. Furthermore, the planning process is an on-going adaptive management procedure which must be continually evaluated and modified as more information is learned about the effects of ecotourism and development.