Could Ecotourism Squelch The Scorching of The Amazon
Visiting the Amazon can only be compared to putting on a virtual reality helmet and watching the Avatar; its magnitude, wilderness, and beauty are hard to conceptualise into reality, and yet, it is a reality. With much of the modern world consisting of highways, skyscrapers, and shopping centres, it is astonishing that so much of the natural world has been left untouched, or “had been” left untouched.
While the Amazon is related to the Avatar for its untamed beauty, it is also comparable to the degradation of Pandora that takes place in the film. Instead of a war-torn planet being mined for the unfathomably lucrative Unobtainium, the Amazon is being set ablaze by the seemingly harmless cattle ranching industry.
Wildfires are a common natural disaster during the dry season in Brazil, but forest fires are also intentionally (and illegally) started to clear more land for cattle ranching in the area. According to the Global Forest Atlas, cattle ranching accounts for 80 percent of current deforestation rates in the Amazon region.
“According to the Global Forest Atlas, cattle ranching accounts for 80 percent of current deforestation rates in the Amazon region.”
Home to around three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people, the recent Amazon Rainforest fires present a myriad of issues that encompass human rights, environmental concerns, and even Brazil’s tourism industry.
The Amazon Rainforest produces 20% of the oxygen that is in the earth’s atmosphere, making the forest fires a high profile environmental concern.
While the current fires torching the Amazon may afflict the growing ecotourism industry in the rainforest, ecotourism may also be a way to support the Brazilian economy, reduce the rate of deforestation, and combat climate change all in one.
According to the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology, ecotourism in the Amazon provides an incentive for the conservation of areas that would otherwise not be officially protected by the government.
“ecotourism in the Amazon provides an incentive for the conservation of areas that would otherwise not be officially protected by the government.”
Whether it is taking a boat ride down the Amazon River in search of Piranha, sleeping in a hammock with the lush canopy overhead, or taking a hot shower in a luxury Amazonian resort, the options for travel in the rainforest are as diverse as the wildlife that calls it home.
If you are alarmed by the wildfires scorching the Amazon, ecotourism may very well be a way to combat deforestation, build the local economy, and experience the wonders of the Amazon all in one vacation.
Taking a canopy tour allows you to experience the hustle and bustle of the forest floor from a bird's eye view. The Canopy is the rainforest's most biodiverse layer, and the walkways hung among the trees let you stroll in the midst of Red-Eyed Tree Frogs, Toucans, Sloths, and Iguanas.
Canopy tours offer a slightly more eco-friendly option than walking on the forest floor. Since trails and paths have to be made to trudge through the wilderness, taking the high road provides a less invasive option for exploring the Amazon.
Forest Floor Treks
While walking on the forest floor is more invasive than taking a canopy tour, trekking through the jungle can still be eco-friendly. Rainforest treks are an intense and rewarding experience that truly immerses you into its wildlife.
The forest floor is home to the rainforest’s largest animals as well as some of its smallest. You may see Anteaters, Jaguar's, and Bullet Ants (which are aptly named, given the pain of their bite or sting).
Many ecotourism companies offer trekking tours that allow you to explore the rainforest with an experienced guide who teaches you about the indigenous cuisine, gives you survival tips, and assists you throughout the excursion.
“Many ecotourism companies offer trekking tours that allow you to explore the rainforest”
On some rainforest treks, you have the opportunity to camp overnight. Instead of traditional camping, many tour guides bring hammocks for you to sleep in and tarps to guard you against the rain.
Experience an amazing night in the Amazon rainforest. This tour, organized through our friends over at Leezair includes transfers by boat & canoe, piranha spotting, alligator watching and much, much more!
Luxury Eco- Resorts
If you want to wake up to the emphatic chittering of wildlife in the Amazon without the potential late-night snuggles with a Howler Monkey, you might choose to stay in one of the many eco-resorts instead of camping overnight.
The eco-resorts in the Amazon truly show what innovation, coupled with the mindset of environmentalism can achieve. Two examples are the floating resort and the resort located among the treetops. Neither of these lodgings compromise much when it comes to a luxurious experience, and both offer comfort alongside adventure.
Many of the eco-resorts have open concepts, where a sturdy bug screen separates you from the critters (thank goodness, after learning about Bullet Ants), but also allows you to feel immersed in nature.
Visiting one of the many tribal communities in the Amazon offers a great ecotourism opportunity. While ecotourism focuses a great deal on preserving the environment in the locations you visit, it also works to support the indigenous people in the region.
Going to tribal communities allows you to experience a new culture and learn how indigenous people have lived among, and in harmony with the rainforest for centuries.
Many of the tribal communities in the Amazon have shops where you can purchase souvenirs that showcase local crafts, while also supporting that community's economy.
Taking a tour of the Amazon River is a great way to experience some of the most unique aquatic life in the world. The Amazon River is so large that it holds more water than any other river in the world. To keep your cruise environmentally friendly, try to stay away from watercrafts that cause pollution, and stick to a boat with paddles.
Many of the resorts mentioned previously offer excursions on the Amazon River where you can see Piranha, Caiman, and the rare Pink Dolphin.
The Amazon Rainforest fires are a serious problem, and if the world continues to ignore the needs of the natural world, the forest fires will continue to burn at an alarming rate. While there are many ways to help reduce deforestation, visiting, appreciating, and protecting our world's greatest natural treasures is one of the best ways we can combat the environmental devastation that is scorching our planet.
About the author
Devin is a freelance environmental and travel writer. Her creative spirit and love for the world have just begun to collide, and she looks forward to seeing the good that can come from such a unity.
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At Five-Leaf System we want to inspire travellers by finding environmentally friendly accommodation. With the same token, we support eco-accommodation that demonstrates positive environmental initiatives and show their commitment to lessen their environmental impact on the world.