Biodiversity Management and Tourism Development

Ronda Green, 13th December 2010

I’ve just returned from the 2010 German Alumni Summer School , on Biodiversity Management and Tourism Development held over 8 days in Lombok, Indonesia.

It was a great experience, organized by Dr. Jolanta Slowik of the renowned  Göttingen Universty of Germany. Delegates came from various parts of Indonesia, as well as Philippines, Thailand, India, Cambodia, Vietnam,  Costa Rica, Ecuador, USA (TIES chair Dr Kelly Bircker), Australia *myself) and of course Germany.

Talks and workshops occupied several days, and we also visited a traditional Sasak village on the slopes of Mt Rinjani (the second largest active volcano in Indonesia – sleeping peacefully at the moment) and heard how the local people vaue the Natinal Park as an employer of local guides, and a few of us dived in coral watching hawksbill turtles, trumpet fish and much more. I was also taken by a friend of one of the delegates to a foundation created to help local orphans get a decent education, funded by swimming pool, restaurant and live theatre – a great project I hope we’ll hear more of soon, as well as a new project the same person is planning, involving ecotourism and cultural tourism. A surprise at the hotel in Mataram (which was beautiful but could just as well ahve been in Miami, Fiji or anywhere else tropical) was looking out the window and seeing dragon lizards gliding from palm tree to palm tree!

I was delighted to be an invited speaker at this summer school – Dr Slowik had come on one of my wildlife tours run as a 3-day field trip after the International Ecology (Intecol) conference last year, and asked if I would be interested (I think it took less than half a second to decide yes, very much so). My talks were ” A half-century of ecotourism in Australia, with particular reference to wildlife tourism” and “Biodiversity protection through community ecotourism”  –  the first was of my choosing (within the limits of presenting the Australian experience), the second on request. I also led a workshop (again, on request) on “Tourism development and tropical rainforest,” involving identification of impacts and problems of tourism development and possible solutions, initiative for sustainabe tourism development and conservation of biodiversity, integrating biodiversity management and sustainable tourism development, and implementation strategies to travel agencies, tourist industry, education and policy makers. I greatly enjoyed the interaction during this workshop, and heard many interesting stories then and throughout the week.

All in all a great experience, many interesting and charming people,  and lots to think about.