Putting Environment to peril

Tourism's relationship with the environment is complex - many activities adversely impact environmental

TOURISM

DR. MANZOOR AHMED YETOO

Uncontrolled conventional tourism poses potential threat to many natural areas around the world. It can put enormous pressure on an area and lead to impacts such as: soil erosion, increased pollution, discharges into the sea, natural habitat loss, increased pressure on endangered species and heightened vulnerability to forest fires. It often puts a strain on water resources, and it can force local populations to compete for the use of critical resources.
Tourism development can put pressure on natural resources when it increases consumption in areas where resources are already scarce. One of the important resources is water. The tourism industry generally overuses water resources. This can result in water shortage and degradation of water supplies, as well as generating a greater volume of waste water. In drier regions like the Mediterranean, the issue of water scarcity is of particular concern.
Tourism can create great pressure on local resources like energy, food, and other raw materials that may already be in short supply. Greater extraction and transport of these resources exacerbates the physical impacts associated with their exploitation. Because of the seasonal character of the industry, many destinations have ten times more inhabitants in the high season as in the low season. A high demand is placed upon these resources to meet the high expectations tourists often have.
Increased construction of tourism facilities has increased the pressure on these resources and on scenic landscapes. Direct impact on natural resources in the provision of tourist facilities can be caused by the use of land for accommodation and other infrastructure provision, and the use of building materials. Forests often suffer negative impacts of tourism in the form of deforestation caused by fuel wood collection and land clearing. For example, one trekking tourist in Nepal can use four to five kilograms of wood a day.
Pollution is one of the major problems. Transport by air, road, and rail is continuously increasing in response to the rising number of tourists and their greater mobility. Tourism now accounts for more than 60% of air travel. One study estimated that a single transatlantic return flight emits almost half the CO2 emissions produced by all other sources (lighting, heating, car use, etc.) consumed by an average person yearly. Air pollution from tourist transportation has impacts on the global level, especially from CO2 emissions related to transportation energy use. And it can contribute to severe local air pollution. Noise pollution from airplanes, cars, buses, snowmobiles and jet skis, In addition to causing annoyance, stress, and even hearing loss for humans, causes distress to wildlife and can cause animals to alter their natural activity patterns.
Solid waste and littering in areas with high concentration of tourist activities can be a major despoiler of the natural environment - rivers, scenic areas, and roadsides. For example, cruise ships in the Caribbean are estimated to produce more than 70,000 tons of waste each year. Solid waste and littering can degrade the physical appearance of the water and shoreline and cause the death of marine animals. In mountain areas, trekkers generate a great deal of waste.
Construction of hotels, recreation and other facilities often leads to increased sewage pollution. Waste water has polluted seas and lakes surrounding tourist attractions, damaging the flora and fauna. Sewage  run off causes serious damage to coral reefs because it stimulates the growth of algae, which cover the filter-feeding corals, hindering their ability to survive.
Often tourism fails to integrate its structures with the natural features and indigenous architecture of the destination. Large, dominating resorts of disparate design can look out of place in any natural environment and may clash with the indigenous structural design which adds to aesthetic pollution, lack of land-use planning and building regulations in many destinations has facilitated sprawling developments along coastlines, valleys and scenic routes. The sprawl includes tourism facilities themselves and supporting infrastructure such as roads, employee housing, parking, service areas, and waste disposal.
Physical impacts of tourism development are massive and can create a big problem if not handled professionally. The development of tourism facilities can involve sand mining, beach and sand dune erosion and loss of wildlife habitats.
Deforestation and intensified or unsustainable use of land in Construction of ski resort accommodation and facilities frequently requires clearing forested land. Coastal wetlands are often drained due to lack of more suitable sites.
Alterations of ecosystems by tourist activities although remains hidden but can cause habitat degradation by tourism leisure activities. For example, wildlife viewing can bring about stress for the animals and alter their natural behaviour when tourists come too close.

Feedback at manzooryetoo@yahoo.co.in

Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 31 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST




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