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UN recognises ecotourism for sustainable development

ecotourimA recent resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations  has recognised ecotourism's role in sustainable development,  including protecting the environment in all countries as well as  contributing to the fight against poverty in many developing  economies.

That's according to Steve Noakes, Senior Lecturer in Tourism at  CQUniversity.

Mr Noakes said that, just before Christmas, the UN General  Assembly which represents all 193 member states adopted a  landmark resolution entitled: ‘Promotion of ecotourism for  poverty eradication and environment protection'.

"The resolution calls on UN Member States to adopt policies that  promote ecotourism highlighting its positive impact on income  generation, job creation and education, and thus on the fight  against poverty and hunger," he said.

Mr Noakes represents CQUniversity's Affiliate membership of the  United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and has been a  senior consultant on sustainable tourism to the United Nations  Environment Program and UN agencies such as the International  Labour Organisation (ILO).

"Importantly, the UN resolution recognises that ecotourism  creates significant opportunities for the conservation,  protection and sustainable use of biodiversity and of natural  areas by encouraging local and indigenous communities in host  countries and tourists alike to preserve and respect the natural  and cultural heritage," he said.

The new UN resolution drew on an ecotourism report from the UNWTO  which highlighted the need for national tourism plans to account  for market demand and local competitive advantages and to promote  investment in ecotourism, including creating small and  medium-sized enterprises, promoting cooperatives and facilitating  access to finance through inclusive financial services such as  microcredit initiatives for the poor, local and indigenous  communities, in areas of ecotourism potential and rural  areas.

"These types of General Assembly resolutions enable ecotourism to  remain on the agenda of contributing to the UN Millennium  Development Goals, particularly those relating to poverty  reduction, gender equity and sustainable development," Mr Noakes  said.

"Tourism as a factor of development for developing and developed  countries alike is a central theme of courses within the new  Tourism degree offered at CQUniversity's Noosa campus and also  available via Distance Education."

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

New Species of Frogs Disappearing as Fast as They

New species of frogs in Panama are being lost nearly as fast as they are being found to a deadly fungal disease that is sweeping through the region.

In an effort to document the diversity of frogs in Central America before the disease sweeps through the entire region, scientists are discovering new species, some of which are going extinct, and some of which are surviving.

In Panama’s Omar Torrijos National Park, 11 new species of frogs were discovered in the course of the long-term survey. After the fungus epidemic in 2004, five of these species went locally extinct, but only one of them is thought to have no other known habitats.Panama Frogs

“In amphibians, the amount of new species described every year keeps going up. We can’t even guess where it is going to stop,” said evolutionary geneticist Andrew Crawford from the University of the Andes, lead author of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published on July 19. “But at the same time, we keep losing them. One third of amphibian species around the world are listed on the IUCN Red List.”

Biologist Karen Lips, a co-author of the study, set up long-term frog monitoring in Omar Torrijos National Park in 1998, when she realized that the deadly fungus first noted in Costa Rica was spreading rapidly towards the region.

“She walked the same transects year after year, and one day in October 2004 she started finding dead frogs instead of live ones,” Crawford said. “The strangest thing was that frogs that were previously rare, like subterranean frogs, became more abundant. They started coming out of the woodwork, so to speak, and then they died.”

In the course of the long-term study, Lips and Crawford identified a total of 74 species in the region.

Within a couple of months of the fungus arriving, Crawford said, 30 of the species disappeared from the region, including five that were newly discovered. A survey in 2008 confirmed their absence.

The killer fungus, Batrochochytrium dendrobatidis, was first noted when the golden toad and about half of the frog species disappeared in Monteverde reserve in Costa Rica in 1987.

Since then, it has been spreading eastward through the Central America highlands, and also through a large portion of the Andes, likely from a separate introduction.

The fungus dislikes too much heat or dryness, which makes frogs that live in streams in mountainous areas most vulnerable.

While the exact origin and cause of the spread of the disease is unknown, Crawford guesses that the disease travels with the amphibians that get moved around for pets and research. He said that this particular fungus either originated in Africa or North America.

Only one of the species that went extinct in Omar Torrijos National Park has no other known habitat, meaning that it is likely extinct worldwide. The other 29 species have known ranges in eastern Panama, which hasn’t yet been hit by the fungus.

Researchers are searching for ways to avert the loss of more species. The most promising of these is a bacteria that has been found in salamanders in North America that protects their eggs from the fungus.

The bacteria has been isolated and tested on frogs in the Sierra Nevada, and appeared to improve their survival rates from the fungus, said Crawford. However, there are still many questions to be answered about the ethics and efficacy of introducing the bacteria to frogs in Central and South America.

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References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles

The International Sustainability Council 

The Reserve at Lake Keowee

Sustainability Campaign


The Royal Society of Biological Sciences

National Geographic

Double Oaks

Global Stewards

United States Department of Energy

American Society of Golf Course Architects

The United States Golf Association (USGA)


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