Monday, June 6

Draft Guidelines for ecotourism in and around protected areas

IN AND AROUND PROTECTED AREAS 2nd June 2011 DRAFT/02 June 2011 2DRAFT/02 June 2011

Healthy natural ecosystems are critical to the ecological well-being of all living entities, and especially for the
economic security of people. Ecotourism has the potential to enhance wilderness protection and wildlife
conservation, while providing nature-compatible livelihoods and greater incomes for a large number of people
living around natural ecosystems. This can help to contribute directly to the protection of wildlife or forest
areas, while making the local community stakeholders and owners in the process.
This document lays out a detailed set of framework guidelines on the selection, planning,
development, implementation and monitoring of ecotourism in India. Recognising
however, that India’s wildlife landscapes are diverse, these guidelines are necessarily broad, with specific State
Ecotourism Strategies to be developed by the concerned State Governments, and Ecotourism Plans to be
developed by the concerned Authorities. Roles and responsibilities are enumerated for different stakeholders:
State Governments, Protected Area management, tourist facilities/tour operators, local communities, temple
boards and general public.
1.1 Ecotourism is defined as ‘responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the
environment and improves the well-being of local people’1. Such tourism is lowimpact,
educational, and conserves the environment while directly benefiting the
economic development of local communities.
1.2 Most wilderness areas across India are fragile ecosystems that provide a whole host
of ecosystem services to local residents and people living downstream; and continue
to remain important tourist attractions. However, unplanned tourism in such
landscapes can destroy the very environment that attracts such tourism in the first
place. Hence, there is a need to move towards a model of tourism that is compatible
with these fragile landscapes.
1.3 Ecotourism, when practiced correctly, is an important economic and educational
activity. It has the scope to link to a wider constituency and build conservation
support while raising awareness about the worth and fragility of such ecosystems in
the public at large. It also promotes the non-consumptive use of wilderness areas, for
the benefit of local communities living around, and dependent on these fragile
1 This is the International Ecotourism Society definition of Ecotourism
DRAFT/02 June 2011
1.4 In recent years, the mushrooming of tourist facilities around protected areas has led
to the exploitation, disturbance and misuse of fragile ecosystems. It has also led to
misuse of the term ‘ecotourism’, often to the detriment of the ecosystem, and
towards further alienation of local people and communities.
1.5 These directives and guidelines for ecotourism are applicable to any Protected Areas,
whether rural or urban, including National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, community
reserves, conservation reserves, sacred groves, or pilgrimage spots located within
protected areas and forested areas.
1.6 Under Section 38 O 1 (c) of the WildLife (Protection) Act, 1972, the National Tiger
Conservation Authority may lay down normative standards for tourism activities and
guidelines relating to tiger reserves.
1.7 Principles of Ecotourism
Those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should practice the
Adopt low-impact tourism that protects ecological integrity of
wilderness areas, secures wildlife values of the destination and its
surrounding areas
Highlight the heritage value of India’s wilderness and protected areas
Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect
Facilitate the sustainability of ecotourism enterprises and activities
Provide livelihood opportunities to local communities
Use indigenous, locally produced and ecologically sustainable
materials for tourism activities
It is important to involve all stakeholders in implementing ecotourism guidelines. Synergy
and collaboration amongst the Central Government, State Governments, hospitality sector,
State Forest Departments, Protected Area managements, and local communities and civil
society institutions is vital for ensuring successful implementation of the guidelines.
2.1. State Governments
2.1.1. The State Government must develop a State-level Ecotourism Strategy – a
comprehensive plan to ensure, inter alia:
Wilderness conservation in ecologically sensitive landscapes
Local community participation and benefit-sharing
Sound environmental design and use of locally produced and sustainable
Conservation education and training
Adequate monitoring and evaluation of the impact of ecotourism activities
Capacity building of local communities in planning, providing and managing
ecotourism facilities
DRAFT/02 June 2011
2.1.2. The State-level Ecotourism Strategy must be in tune with the framework of
guidelines provided here. Ecologically sensitive land use policies should be
prescribed for the landscape surrounding protected areas. Adequate provisions must
be made to ensure that ecotourism does not get relegated to purely high-end,
exclusive tourism, leaving out local communities. Relevant modifications in State
rules and regulations must be carried out in order to ensure adherence to these
standards by tourist developers and operators. All States should notify the Statelevel
Ecotourism Strategy by December 31, 2011, and put the same in the
public domain, in the local language also.
2.1.3. No new tourist facilities are to be set up on forest lands. This is in compliance with
the WildLife (Protection) Act, 1972, and the directives of the Honourable Supreme
2.1.4. The State Government must develop a system by which gate receipts from Protected
Areas should be collected by the Protected Area management, and not go as revenue
to the State Exchequer. This will ensure that resources generated from tourism can
be earmarked for protection, conservation and local livelihood development.
2.1.5. The State Forest Department should be the arbiter in case of any dispute regarding
the ecological advisability of any tourism plans, whether Protected Area Management,
private entity, temple board or community, as the welfare of wildlife and Protected
Areas/ biodiversity takes precedence over tourism.
2.1.6. The Chief Wildlife Warden of the State must ensure that each Protected Area
prepares an ecotourism plan, as part of the Management Plan/Annual Plan of
Operation/ Tiger Conservation Plan. A site-specific Ecotourism Plan for each
Protected Area must be prepared and approved by the State government by
December 31, 2011, and put in the public domain; in the local language also.
The Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) of the State shall develop a monitoring
mechanism, estimate carrying capacity (model mechanism to calculate carrying
capacity, provided in Annexure II), delineate tourism zones, and decide the area
open to tourism on the basis of objective, scientific criteria.
2.1.7. A State Level Steering Committee should be constituted under the chairmanship
of the Chief Minister for quarterly review vis-à-vis the recommendations contained
in the State-level Ecotourism Strategy. The Chief Wildlife Warden of the State shall
be the Member Convener of the said committee. The State Government will decide
its composition and rules of procedure. Each State should constitute State Level
Steering Committees by December 31, 2011, and the names of its members should
be put in the public domain. The Committee should have representation from local
communities that live in and around Protected Areas, tribal welfare department,
Panchayati Raj Institution and Civil Society Institutions.
DRAFT/02 June 2011
2.1.8. As part of the State-level Ecotourism Strategy, the State government should levy a
“local conservation cess” as a percentage of turn-over2, on all privately-run
tourist facilities within 5 km of the boundary of a Protected Area. The rate of
cess should be determined by the State Government, and the monies thus
collected should be earmarked to fund Protected Area management,
conservation and local livelihood development, and not go to the State
Exchequer as discussed in 2.1.4 above. Each State Government should notify the
local conservation cess by December 31, 2011. The rationale for a local
conservation cess should be clearly explained to the public at large, including through
clear signage at local tourist facilities.
2.1.9. Financial assistance/ incentives should be provided for communities/individuals who
own revenue lands outside protected areas, to convert such lands to forest status.
The value of such lands for wildlife will be enhanced, even as it improves the income
of the landowner from ecotourism.
2.1.10. A Local Advisory Committee (hereinafter referred to as LAC) must be constituted
for each Protected Area by the State government. The LAC will have the following
• To review the State Ecotourism Strategy with respect to the
Protected Area and make recommendations to the State government
• To ensure site specific restrictions on buildings and infrastructures in
private areas in close proximity to core/critical tiger habitat/National
Park/Sanctuary or buffer zone, keeping in mind the corridor value.
• To advise local and state government on issues relating to
development of ecological-tourism in non-forest areas of ecologicaltourism
zones etc.
• Regularly monitor all tourist facilities falling within 5 km of a
Protected Area vis-à-vis environmental clearance, area of coverage,
ownership, type of construction, number of employees etc, for
suggesting mitigation/retrofitting measures if needed.
• Regularly monitor activities of tour operators to ensure that they do
not cause disturbance to animals while taking visitors into the
Protected Area.
2 The Tiger Task Force Report in 2005 recommended that hotels within a radius of 5 km from the boundary
of a reserve must contribute 30 percent of their turnover to the reserve. Further, the hotels can be allowed to
claim 100 percent income tax benefit for the same, as incentive.
DRAFT/02 June 2011
2.1.11. Composition of LAC:
• District Collector (Chairman)
• PA Manager (Member Secretary)
• Local Territorial DFO
• Honorary Wildlife Warden (if present)
• Official of State Tourism Department
• Block Development Officer (1)
• Members of Local Panchayats (2)
• Wildlife scientist (1)
• Local conservationists (2)
• Representative from Civil Society Institution (1)
• In case of North Eastern States, the traditional village councils should be
recognized as equivalent to Panchayat Members, wherever such councils
• For Tiger Reserves, the Tiger Conservation Foundation should be the
overseeing authority and should include members that are not represented in
the Tiger Conservation Foundation.
• The Detailed Terms of Reference of individual Local Advisory Committee
will be determined at the State level.
2.2. Protected Area Management
2.2.1. Each Protected Area must develop its own Ecotourism Plan, as part of its Tiger
Conservation Plan, Management Plan, or Annual Plan of Operation, and should be
duly approved by the Chief Wildlife Warden of the State, and the National Tiger
Conservation Authority (where relevant). The plan should be consistent with the
State Ecotourism Strategy and must be approved by the LAC and the State
Government. An ecotourism plan for each PA must be notified by December
31, 2011, and put in the public domain, in the local language also.
The plan should:
i) Identify (using GIS) and monitor the ecologically sensitive areas surrounding
PAs, in order to ensure the ecological integrity of corridor/buffer areas, and
prevent corridor pinching/destruction
ii) Assess carrying capacity of the Protected Area, at three levels: physical, real
and effective/permissible carrying capacity of visitors and vehicles (See
Annexure II)
iii) Set a ceiling level on number of visitors allowed to enter a Protected Area at
any given time, based on the carrying capacity of the habitat.
iv) Indicate the area open to tourism in the reserves to be designated as ‘ecotourism
DRAFT/02 June 2011
v) Develop a participatory community-based tourism strategy, in collaboration
with local communities, to ensure long-term local-community benefit-sharing,
and promotion of activities run by local communities
vi) Develop codes and standards for privately-operated tourist facilities located
in the vicinity of core/critical wildlife habitats, eco-sensitive zones or buffer
areas, with a view to, inter alia, ensure benefit and income to local
vii) Develop monitoring mechanisms to assess impact of tourism activities
viii) Develop generic guidelines for environmentally acceptable and culturally
appropriate practices, and for all new constructions
ix) Do’s and Don’ts for visitors (see Annexure I)
2.2.2. In the case of human animal conflicts, compensation should be paid within a period
of 15 days apart from immediate payment of ex gratia. In case of North Eastern
States, the traditional village councils should be recognized and made responsible for
this purpose, wherever such councils exist.
2.2.3. All ecotourism activities should take place only in delineated ‘ecotourism zones’
delineated in the ecotourism plan.
2.2.4. Given that traditional tourism has been happening in national parks/sanctuaries;
many of which now form part of core/critical tiger habitat or critical wildlife habitat,
and also taking note of the need to implement the provisions of the Wildlife
(Protection) Act, 1972, the following norms maybe be adhered to in the context of
ecological-tourism activities, and included in the ecotourism plan of the Protected
Area. For critical wildlife habitats of national parks/sanctuaries and for core/critical
tiger habitats of tiger reserves;
a) Larger than 500, 20% of such areas may be permitted for regulated
ecotourism access, subject to the condition that 30% of the surrounding buffer/fringe
area should be restored as a wildlife habitat in 5 years.
b) Smaller than 500, 15% of such areas may be permitted for regulated
ecotourism access, subject to the condition that 20% of the surrounding buffer/fringe
area should be restored as a wildlife habitat in 5 years.
2.2.5. Any core area in a Tiger Reserve from which relocation has been carried out,
will not be used for tourism activities. Forest dwellers who have been relocated
will be given priority in terms of livelihood generation activities related to ecotourism
in the Protected Area from which they have been relocated. Protected Area
Management will make a special effort in this regard.
2.2.6. Tourism infrastructure must conform to environment-friendly, low-impact
architecture, including solar energy, waste recycling, rainwater harvesting, natural
cross-ventilation, reduced used of asbestos, controlled sewage disposal, and merging
with the surrounding habitat
DRAFT/02 June 2011
2.2.7. In a phased manner (within five years), permanent residential facilities located inside
of core-critical tiger habitat/critical wildlife habitat, which are being used for wildlife
tourism should be moved to revenue lands outside.
2.2.8. Protected Area authorities must ensure that all facilities within a 5 km radius of
core/critical wildlife habitats/PAs/reserves must adhere to all environmental
clearances, noise pollution norms, and are non-polluting, blending in with
surroundings. Severe penalties must be imposed for non-compliance.
2.2.9. There shall be a complete ban on burying, burning or otherwise disposing nonbiodegradable
or toxic waste in the tourism area.
2.2.10. In the case of number of visitors/vehicles exceeding carrying capacity, establish an
advance booking system to control tourist and vehicle numbers. Rules of booking
must be transparent, and vehicles must strictly maintain a distance of 15 m from one
another when stationary. Violators must be penalized, since congestion and
overcrowding in this manner causes undue disturbance to wild animals that are being
2.2.11. Protected Area authorities must delineate a minimum area for the visitor facility,
which should be in a site-specific manner.
2.2.12. Residential tourist facilities (number of beds) should be in conformity with the
carrying capacity of the PA.
2.2.13. In the case of Tiger Reserves, ecotourism should be under the oversight of the
respective Tiger Conservation Foundations for each tiger reserve, to enable Eco
Development Committees/ Village Forest Committees/ forest cooperatives to
strengthen the institutional framework through a Memorandum of Understanding.
2.3. Tourist facilities/ Tour operators
2.3.1. Tourism infrastructure must conform to environment-friendly, low-impact
architecture; renewables including solar energy, waste recycling, rainwater harvesting,
natural cross-ventilation, no use of asbestos, controlled sewage disposal, and merging
with the surrounding landscape.
2.3.2. All tourist facilities falling within 5 km of a protected area must be reviewed regularly
by the Local Advisory Committee vis-à-vis environmental clearance, area of coverage,
ownership, type of construction, number of employees, etc, for suggesting
mitigation/retrofitting measures if needed.
DRAFT/02 June 2011
2.3.3. All tourism facilities located within five kms. of a Protected Area must adhere to
noise pollution rules under ‘The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules’,
2000, and ‘The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) (Amendment) Rules’, 2010
issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
2.3.4. All tourist facilities, old and new must aim to generate at least 50% of their total
energy and fuel requirements from alternate energy sources that may include wind,
solar and biogas.
2.3.5. There shall be a complete ban on burning or disposing non-biodegradable waste
within the Protected Area or in surrounding eco-sensitive zone or buffer area.
2.3.6. The use of wood as fuel shall be prohibited, except for campfires for which wood
must be procured from State Forest Department/Forest Development Corporation
2.3.7. In order to allow free passage to wildlife, development should be sensitive to the
conservation of flora and fauna, and the corridor value of the area.
2.3.8. Tourist facilities/tour operators must not cause disturbance to animals while taking
visitors on nature trails.
2.4. Temple/Pilgrimage Boards
2.4.1. Pilgrim sites located inside Protected Areas must be designated as sacred groves, with
strict building and expansion controls, in accordance with the Forest Conservation
Act, 1980 and the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
2.4.2. All transit camps and places of stay for such pilgrimage must be restricted to
nominated days in a year.
2.4.3. All rules that apply to tourism facilities including noise, building design, use of
alternate energy and free passage to wildlife will apply to such pilgrim facilities.
2.4.4. Temple boards must negotiate terms of revenue sharing with local communities, and
channel a minimum of five percent of gross revenue collected into development of
local communities through the Panchayat and Gram Sabha.
DRAFT/02 June 2011
2.5. Local Communities
2.5.1. The first benefit from ecotourism must go to the local people, and in the long-run,
capacity-building should be carried out to forge a sustainable partnership between
the forest department, tourism professionals and local communities
2.5.2. Soft loans may be provided for Community Credit Programme/Special Trust Funds/
Special Central Assistance/ Developmental Schemes of Tribal Department/Districtlevel
Integrated Developmental Programme/ Tiger Conservation Foundation, to
pre-identified local-community/beneficiaries for promoting ecotourism.
2.6. Public / Visitors
2.6.1. Public / Visitors must abide by the code of conduct, and ‘Do’s and Don’ts, as
developed by the Protected Area Management. Model “Do’s and Don’ts” are
detailed in Annexure I.
DRAFT/02 June 2011
Model Do’s and Don’ts for Visitors
Appreciate the colours and sounds of nature
Treat the Protected Area/wilderness area with respect
Dress in colours that blend with the natural environment
Take pictures, but without disturbing wildlife
Observe the sanctity of holy sites, respect local customs
Keep a reasonable distance from wild animals, and do not provoke them
Dispose waste responsibly: carry back all non-biodegradable litter, and leave
campsites litter-free before departing
When in a vehicle, remember wild animals have right of way
Keep to the speed limit, don’t use the horn, and do not startle animals
Do not talk loudly or play loud music
Do not get out of the vehicle or approach wild animals
Do not approach animals closer than 15 m or disturb them while they are resting
Do not take away flora and fauna in the form of cuttings, seeds or roots.
Do not feed wild animals
Do not light fires, or smoke inside protected areas. Accidental forest fires cause
irreparable damage
Carrying of guns, fire arms, inflammable materials are strictly prohibited, as per the
provisions of the WildLife (Protection) Act, 1972, and is punishable by law
(Model Calculation, Example: Kanha Tiger Reserve)
(a) Physical Carrying Capacity (PCC): This is the “maximum number of visitors that
can physically fit into a defined space, over a particular time”. It is expressed as:
PCC = A X V/a X RF
Where, A = available area for public use
V/a = one visitor / M2
Rf = rotation factor (number of visits per day)
In order to measure the PCC to Kanha, the following criteria must be taken into
Only vehicular movements on forest roads are permitted
The “standing area” is not relevant, but “closeness” between vehicles is important
There is a required distance of at least 500 m (1/2 km.) between 2 vehicles to avoid
dust (2 vehicles / km.)
At least 3 ½ hours are needed for a single park excursion
The PA is open to tourists for 9 months in a year and 9 hours per day
DRAFT/02 June 2011
Linear road lengths within the tourist zone are more relevant than area, and the total
lengths are:
Kanha 107.20 km.
Kisli 72.56 km.
Mukki 103 km.
Total 282.76 or 283 km.
Due to constant vehicular use, the entire road length of 283 km. is prone to
erosion, out of which around 90 km. is affected more
Rotation Factor (Rf) = Opening period
Average time of one visit
Physical Carrying Capacity (PCC) = 283 km. x 2 vehicles / km. x 2.6
= 1471.6 or 1472 visits / day
(b) Real Carrying Capacity (RCC): RCC is the maximum permissible number of visits
to a site, once the “reductive factors” (corrective) derived from the particular
characteristics of the site have been applied to the PCC. These “reductive factors”
(corrective) are based on biophysical, environmental, ecological, social and management
RCC = PCC – Cf1 – Cf2
---------------- Cfn,
Where Cf is a corrective factor expressed as a percentage. Thus, the formula for
calculating RCC is:
RCC = PCC x 100 – Cf1 x 100 – Cf2 x ……… 100 - Cfn
100 100
Corrective Factors are “site-specific”, and are expressed in percentage as below:
Cf = Ml x 100
Where: Cf = corrective factor
Ml = limiting magnitude of the variable
Mt = total magnitude of the variable
(i) Road erosion: Here the susceptibility of the site is taken into account.
DRAFT/02 June 2011
Total road length = 283 km. (Mt)
Medium erosion sink = 50 km. (weighting factor: 2)
High erosion risk = 40 km. (weighting factor: 3)
Ml = 50 x 2 + 40 x 3 = 100 + 120 = 220 km.
Mt = 283 km.
Cfe = 220 x 100 = 77.8 or 78%
(ii) Disturbance to Wildlife: Here, species that are prone to disturbance owing to visitation
are considered. The Central Indian barasingha, a highly endangered, endemic species
found only in Kanha has a courtship period of about 1 month in winter, during which it
is extremely sensitive to disturbance. Likewise, the peak courtship activity for spotted
deer lasts for two months before the onset of regular monsoon. As far as tigers are
concerned, newborns are seen between March and May and also during the rains; hence
an average value of two months in a year can be considered as the matter phase.
Corrector Factor (Cf) = limiting months / year x 100
12 months / year
Corrective Factor for barasingha
Cf w1 = 1 x 100 = 11.1%
Corrective Factor for spotted deer
Cf w2 = 2 x 100 = 22.2%
Corrective Factor for tiger
Cf w2 = 2 x 100 = 22.2%
Overall corrective factor for disturbance of wildlife in Kanha National Park = Cf w =
Cf1 + Cf2 + Cf3
= 11.1 + 22.2 + 22.2 = 55.5 or 55%
(iii) Temporary Closing of Roads: For maintenance or other managerial reasons, visitation to
certain roads may be temporary restricted within the Protected Area. The Corrective
Factor in this regard is calculated as:
Cft = limiting weeks / year x 100 total weeks / year
DRAFT/02 June 2011 15
In Kanha, an average value of 2 limiting weeks per year may be considered as the
“limiting weeks”, and thus the corrective factor works out to:
Cft = 2 weeks / year x 100 = 5.5%
36 weeks / year
Computation of RCC
RCC = 1472 x 100-78 x 100-55 x 100-5.5
100 100 100
= 1472 (0.22 x 0.45 x 0.95)
= 138.4 or 138 visits / day
(c) Effective Permissible Carrying Capacity (ECC): ECC is the maximum number of
visitors that a site can sustain, given the management capacity (MC) available. ECC is
obtained by multiplying the real carrying capacity (RCC) with the management capacity
(MC). MC is defined as the sum of conditions that PA administration requires if it is to
carry out its functions at the optimum level. Limitations in management like lack of staff
and infrastructure limit the RCC.
For Kanha, owing to the paucity of staff the MC is around 30%. Hence, ECC = 138 x
0.30 = 41.4 or 40 vehicles / day.
Thus, the Effective Permissible Carrying Capacity on any single day is only 40 vehicles,
which should be allowed entry as below:
(Forenoon) = 25 vehicles (inclusive of both entry points)
(Afternoon) = 15 vehicles (inclusive of both entry points)
During peak season (winter months), the staff strength may be increased (only 10%) by
deploying “special duty” personnel; this would enhance the ECC to 55 vehicles per day.
Further, increase in the number of vehicles would lead to deleterious effects on the

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