Russell A. Mittermeier
CI has had an intimate involvement with ecotourism
since the creation of our organization. In 1989, our current Senior Vice President for Resources and Communications, Karen Ziffer, authored one of the first-ever studies of ecotourism and biodiversity conservation. Two years later, we became a founding member of The International Ecotourism Society, the world’s largest and oldest ecotourism organization. Since that time, CI has launched successful field-based ecotourism initiatives across the globe, from pristine jungles in Bolivia to threatened forest
fragments in Ghana.
The success of ecotourism has enabled us to move beyond the local level and apply ecotourism principles on a larger scale. In this issue of Frontlines
we discuss the expanded scope of our efforts. Of note is our recent work supporting the drafting of guidelines on biodiversity and tourism for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD establishes commitments among a majority of nations for maintaining the world’s ecological foundations.
One of my personal agendas is to create a tradition of primate life-listing—a take-off of the birding practice of listing all encountered species
—to stimulate ecotourism in rainforest destinations sheltering the world’s most endangered primates
. To facilitate this, we have published primate field guides for Madagascar
and Colombia, and more are in the works.
Widespread adoption of ecotourism principles faces many challenges, and much more remains to be done. However, enormous opportunities exist as well. Not the least of these is the opportunity ecotourism affords travelers to experience some of the most biologically and culturally fascinating corners of the world. What better way for people to properly appreciate Earth’s biological splendor, the traditional cultures it supports and the importance of preserving both.