The Parks Community Network Mapu Lahual, is a private indigenous initiative located on the coast of Los Lagos Region in south of Chile. Mapu Lahual has great tourism potential, which is beginning to be exploited without clear planning. This has put in danger the cultural heritage and the special biodiversity possible to find in this place.
It is for this reason that the present study focuses on the establishment of indicator as a first step for the implementation of a methodology for monitoring impacts of tourism on the socio-cultural, economic and environmental aspects, in order to establish efficient management parameters for the ecotourism development in Mapu Lahual and particularly in Caleta Cóndor community.
The study also identifies current and future issues affecting tourism development and points out potential solutions based on information obtained in-situ. It is necessary to refer that the study identifies impacts and indicators and does not define standards for each one. The work included literature review and a visit to the place, where meetings were held with the community and a representative of the Río Negro Municipality.
Finally, the present study aims to extend the results to the administration of the park network, with the objective of enabling accurate management decisions on time, avoiding the deterioration of cultural and heritage values that sustain daily life and economy of Huilliches communities.
Caleta Condor Community is located inside a private protected area called Mapu Lahual, which corresponds to a park network owned by indigenous communities that are part of Mapuche ethnicity, specifically Huilliches (people from the south).These terrains are situated in the coast of Los Lagos Region, in San Juan de la Costa, Río Negro and Purranque communes.
As a whole, the community park network has a surface of 60.000 hectares of adult forest, presenting a great biodiversity and environmental value, which is reflected in important ecosystems such as Selva Valdiviana, Alerce Costero, Siempre-Verde Forest, Olivillo Costero, among others. Also, the zone contains a marine and coastal protected area of multiple uses called Lafken Mapu Lahual which protects marine and terrestrial resources highly relevant not only for the region , but also for the country, helping to achieve the Chilean Biodiversity Strategy (WWF).
In Chile, Mapuche ethnicity is not recognized by the Chilean government, and represents the poorest population; these communities have to affront the poverty in isolated areas with precarious development. The territory in study is not the exception; communities present a high social vulnerability, because of the lack of opportunities and the remoteness of the terrain. Traditionally, these communities base their livelihood in consumptive uses being the most important the extraction and sale of Alerce‟s Tiles (Fitzroya cupressoidesi), fuel wood, ranching and fishing.
Given these circumstances, nowadays in the zone there is a project to establish non consumptive uses, specifically ecotourism as an alternative for rural development, involving the improvement of the community‟s quality of life (economy and education), protection of the cultural patrimony, and biodiversity conservation.
The ecotourism development in a sensitive area like Mapu Lahual deserves the establishment of a methodology to monitor the present and potential impacts produced by the visitation. It is highly documented that in pristine areas with presence of communities with ancestral and unique cultures there are high level of impacts.(Scheyvens, 1999).
Caleta Cóndor was visited between May 14th to 20th 2012, opportunity in which it was possible to contact and interview settlers, and to carry out a workshop based in the development of a problem and solution‟s tree (Margolouis, R. y Salafsky, N. 1998), which was very effective collecting information about actual problems related to development, management, organization, and financial support for the development of community-based tourism and ecotourism, and also about the future vision and negative impacts that could affect this project.
This study establishes sustainable indicators for socio-cultural, economic and environmental impacts, information that is the base developing a monitoring methodology.
1. STUDY AREA
The Parks Community Network Mapu Lahual comprises the association of Maicolpué Río Sur, Maicolpi, Melillanca Guanqui, Huellelhue, Nirehue, Loy Cumilef, Caleta Condor, Manquemapu and Mawi Dantu communities, with the aim of managing their resources in a sustainable way.
The settlement in Caleta Cóndor starts on the beginning of the twentieth century; this is no more than 60 to 70 years ago. The 80‟s is the decade with the biggest flow of immigrants motivated by the exploitation of Alerce‟s wood (Fitzroya cupressoides) and the extraction of a sea food called Loco (Concholepas concholepas). The cove is organized as community between 1994 and 1995, identifying themselves with the Mapuche-Huilliche ethnicity.
Regarding the economy, in recent years people have been faced at changes in productive activities, incorporating new knowledge and technologies. The exploitation of Alerce wood as a base of the development is no longer a viable alternative, this activity has declined because it is a species protected by the Chilean law and its extraction is limited to dead wood.
The Parks Community Network Mapu Lahual was created with the aim of diversify the economy beginning its development planning based in non-consumptive benefits of the forest. Since 2004 starts the tourism development. Despite efforts the area presents a low level of visitation because of unfavorable conditions of access, adverse weather, low level of tourism infrastructure development, miscommunication, which affect the development of this industry.
On the other hand, the population has an association of fishermen. Also, villagers recognize Huilliche ethnicity despite have lost the language and ceremonies, presenting a knowledge inherited, allowing them to reproduce life in this territory. Furthermore, inhabitants have developed knowledge about traditional medicine, navigation techniques, and tide recognition.
Boxes 2 and 3 specify the heritage can be found in the zone and that is susceptible to use in tourism development.
2. MONITORING IMPACTS
Monitoring impacts in protected areas is a very important issue in the management because it provides a systematic feedback about how are working management actions identifying tendencies. Margoluis and Salasfky in the book “Measures of Success” (1998) refer to monitoring as “impact or periodic collection and evaluation of data relating to the goals, objectives and activities, is a way to measure the progress and changes that promote the conservation and development projects”. According to some authors monitoring helps modify management actions that allow achieving not only conservationist objectives in a protected area, but also sustainable goals for a tourism destination.
Since the application of visitor impact monitoring tools started, it has been possible corroborate that when monitoring comprehend evaluation and coherent management modifications, could help to the mitigation of negative impacts.
Stankey et al, (1996) expresses that the purpose of a monitoring is:
- To implement a management program in order to achieve objectives of the selected alternative.
- To provide periodic and systematic feedback respecting to management program performance.
Reaching these goals is essential that monitoring methodologies have to be simple, the application easier, cost efficient, and try multidisciplinary aspects. It is necessary to take into account that most of times there is not enough financial resources for training, so methodologies should be applied by any person with little training.
Rome (TNC, 1999) establishes the following characteristics for effective monitoring:
- Monitoring has to be part of planning and general management.
- Monitoring should be based on protected area management objectives and community development.
- It must recognize and analyze complex causes of impacts.
- Indicators and measurement methods should be chosen carefully.
- Different factors must be taken into account when choosing standards and acceptable margins for indicators measurements.
- Monitoring methodology and analysis of conclusion have to be easily accessible and with minimum time and budget exigencies.
- Results have to be analyzed carefully, determining appropriate management option.
- Monitoring should lead to specific management and awareness.
Monitoring impact product is a summary about the relationship between existent conditions and standards for each indicator in every tourism opportunity class.
In brief, monitoring tourism impacts is a fundamental tool for protected area management and sustainable tourism destinations, because each year number of visitor increases, with the consequent increment of the pressure on resources in which tourism is based and a rise in negative impacts.
3. SUSTAINABLE TOURISM INDICATORS
Monitoring impacts considers to select indicators, about this selection depends the level of credibility of the study in course. Acevedo and Izurieta (1996) define an indicator as a specific parameter that can be monitor to determine if the conservationist or sustainable objectives are being fulfilled. An indicator is defines as an index that allows to know a situation at a given moment.
In several methodologies it is possible to find that an indicator has to have the following qualities1:
- Must be specific - Measurable - Accurate - With a margin of error limited - Efficient - Not expensive - Sensitive - Responsive
Over time, different methodologies have been setting different criteria for choosing an indicator, simplifying this process, but it will never be an easy task. Choosing indicators is going to depend about natural resources, infrastructure, community, materials and the kind of visitor coming to the site. When visiting a protected area or tourism destination is possible to identify impacts that are affecting the zone, in some cases is possible to see easily, in other cases it is necessary go through studies verifying the deterioration produced in the environment. These impacts are those which must be monitored, therefore indicators should be related with those impacts, making monitoring more efficient. That is why although there are methodologies established, it will be always a variation on it, and it is in the choice of indicators because each place presents different tourism opportunities, environment‟s resilient levels, type of impacts, quantity of visitors, and types of tourism behavior.
4. TOURISM IMPACTS
Tourism produces a variety of positive and negative impacts in the socio-cultural, economic and environmental scopes, which are habitually complex and interrelated among them.
Through time, it has be identified that local communities are significantly more vulnerable to the effect of tourism development, particularly indigenous cultures because they suffer directly socio-cultural impacts of tourism such change or loss of identity and local values, which can be produced by commoditization, standardization, staged authenticity, adaptation to tourism demand, and cultural clashes.
In terms of impacts produced by tourism in the environmental scope, it is important to know and control them because nature tourists are very sensitive to a decline in quality of water, air, loss of vegetation and wildlife, soil erosion, changes in the character and attraction of a landscape.
Consequently, the degradation of the natural environment seriously reduces the demand of visitors in the long term, this because the natural attributes which tourism depends are perceived less attractive, less legitimate, and less able to provide satisfaction, producing a low level of experience based on ecology.
The main environmental impacts in protected areas due to tourism may appoint: CO2 emissions, ecological impacts (soil and vegetation) related to the activities of hiking, camping and horseback riding; physical and chemical impacts on aquatic ecosystems, modification and habitat disturbance affecting wildlife, among others.
The methodology is divided into two complementary parts. The first referred to the literature review (before and after field), and the second part corresponding to data collection in the community.
As the literature review, this included a comprehensive literature search relating to the study area, monitoring tourism impacts, and establishing sustainable indicators. After gathering the information, a field visit to the study area was conducted, this took place on 14th to 20th May, 2012. The work of gathering information was developed, specifically, on 17th and 18th May, the remaining days being used in the displacement (road and trail) because the area has a high level of insulation.
For data collection corresponding to the identification of the impacts of tourism, two activities were established in order to have a dialogue with the community of Caleta Condor. In these activities participated six people representing the community (3 per day), in order to collect relevant information on current and future issues related to rural development; also, it was captured the position of the community in relation to tourism , and potential solutions were identified.
Finally, an interview was driven to the tourism manager of Rio Negro Municipality, who provided relevant information, which was used in the process establishing indicators.
6.1 Current Problems
6.2 Future Problems
6.4 Establishment of Socio-cultural, Economic & Environmental Indicators.
This study established sustainable indicators in the socio-cultural, economic and environmental scopes, establishing efficient management parameters for ecotourism development of the Park Network Mapu Lahual and particularly in the community of Caleta Condor.
The community has a vast and diverse local knowledge, however there is a low or almost no valuation of it which could lead in the future to lose some ancestral practices, preferring new technology brought from outside communities, affecting tourism directly because cultural and natural heritage are the main attractions for visitors.
The study created a database of current problems related to tourism development such as land ownership, access roads, low skills, almost no promotion of the destination, poor signage, poor quality and inadequate accommodation, lack of basic resources and adverse weather conditions, and the potential problems that will occur if the tourist activity exceed the carrying capacity, conflicts caused by an unequal distribution of roles within the community, arrival of outside tour operators, increased liquid and solid wastes, negative impacts to biodiversity.
In addition, indicators were identified for socio-cultural, economic and environmental scopes, which enable decision makers to establish a more efficient management of the destination, avoiding the negative impacts of increasing visitation.
Finally, it should be emphasized that this study did not define standards for indicators, It is recommended to do this step once the initial data collection be made, information that will act as inventory for future setting of standard and time of data collection for each indicator. It is recommended collecting data after the high season which allows obtaining more representative information.
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(i) Very important tree in Chile, it is allow to extract wood just from died trees because its exploitation is prohibited by law.
(ii) National Tourism Service, Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism. Government of Chile.
(iii) To perform a more detailed study is necessary to establish the methodology of limits of acceptable change in the biophysical environment, including a study of the trails and camp sites used by tourists.
About the Author
Jean-Philippe Le Moigne is a Forestry Engineer and a Sustainable Tourism Consultant. He currently works as Ecotourism Professor in Duoc UC – Chile. More Details