Can Ecotourism Replace Cattle and Deforestation?

Sucuri River In Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

No. But it can help in many ways. Here is how the long journey to ecological sustainability can begin with a few small steps.

Cattle ranching which has been expanding continuously since the early 1970s, is responsible for the majority of Amazon deforestation. This is the result of more than 30 years of government policies that have encouraged investments in infrastructure (roads, dams), occupation of the territory (induced migration) and public funding of such activities

 Research shows the second most popular reason foreign travelers visit Brazil is for nature, ecotourism, or adventure. Ecotourism in Brazil allows travelers to immerse themselves in the natural habitat and forests. It provides people with a greater understanding of the native culture and emphasizes the importance of respecting your ecological surroundings.

Pros of Ecotourism

Valuable Biological Education through Ecotourism provides the opportunity for not only environmentalists and biologists, but also tourists to learn more about the ecosystems and the biology and geology of a specific location. Understanding the components of an ecosystem can lead to a better appreciation for different species and natural formations. Ecotourism also provides an impactful firsthand experience about sustainable living and eco-friendly practices and the impacts of conservation in nature.

Local Economic Support

In some cases, ecotourism provides more sustainable economic growth for countries than other forms of tourism.

Positive Impact on Community Culture

Not only can ecotourism create jobs for locals, but it can also promote and preserve traditional practices. Locally grown food and crafted goods create a direct economic and cultural connection between the tourist and citizen. Ecotourism promotes these cultural traditions rather than altering native customs to fit specific international norms. Some consider ecotourism to be a means to end cultural ignorance, stereotyping, and fear in the world through its ability to educate travelers.

Increased Environmental Awareness

Most ecotourism programs include educational components about environment preservation. The tourists can help spread environmental awareness by taking the information they’ve learned and apply it to their daily lives.

Financial Benefits for Conservation

When people spend money on ecotourism, some of the investment goes toward conservation efforts like reforestation and endangered species repopulation projects. Essentially, the more money spent on ecotourism, the easier it will be to finance conservation projects.

Support for Natural Resource Management

In a global economy where many businesses exploit natural resources for personal gain, ecotourism introduces the idea of natural resource management. Rather than depleting resources to meet high demand, ecotourism suggests adapting a conscientious mindset to extract natural resources in the most efficient and sustainable way possible.

Learn more

Brazil’s Legal Amazon is an administrative designation and includes the whole Amazon forest in Brazil, plus some areas of savannah in the states of Mato Grosso and Tocantins. So far, 700 thousand km2 of the original Amazon forest cover of Brazil has been destroyed – this is equivalent to an area more than twice the size of Poland.

For a deep dive into the issues of cattle and deforestation this report by Greenpeace is an excellent resource.


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