Pristine Environment, Bhutan

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Modern Approaches on Tourism-Related Issues

Nowadays, there is an increasing awareness of the effects that the mass tourism has on the natural environment( described in the previous posts).With this increasing awareness the concept of "Sustainable Tourism" is becoming  more and more  accepted.

  1. The use of tourism environments must allow for long term preservation and for the use of those environments.
  2. Tourism should respect the the character of an area.
  3. Tourism must provide long term benefits.
  4. Tourism should be sensitive to the needs of the host population.
The above concepts  aim on minimizing the impact of tourism on ecology. But as these code of conducts completely rely on the acceptance of the tourist, the success is not guaranteed. Therefore, other strategies must additionally be used to support the effort of creating  sustainable tourism such as:

      1.Regulating the number of tourist allowed in certain areas:
This will reduce the the pressure on natural environments caused by tourism.

     2.The promotion of alternative fuel saving technologies:  
The use of alternative energy sources can help reduce the use of firewoods by tourist and lodges.
   3. The creation of designated campsites:
When designated campsites are created  that offer certain amenities (washing facilities for example), the amount of wild camping along the trails would be reduced. 

    4. Creating community based tourism:
Allows locals to take part in decision making process and at the same time increase the support and co-operation from the locals for the environmental protection projects. 

Likewise, other Himalayan countries can put the policy which Bhutan follows in place which is: "High Value, Low Volume". Its means to bring in high end tourist with less number, and this will help reduce environmental impact of mass tourism. 

Therefore, the above mentioned strategies will help reduce the environmental impact caused by tourism  in the  Himalayas. Modern day approaches like these can help reduce the negative effect of tourism and allow both tourist and local population to benefit from "Sustainable Tourism."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Construction of Tourism Infrastructure and the Environment

The quality of environment, both natural and man-made are essential to tourism. However, tourism's relationship with environment is very complex, and many activities can have an adverse effect on the environment. Many of the environmental impacts are linked with the construction of general infrastructure such as roads, airports, lodges, hotels, shops and golf courses. The negative impact of tourism development can gradually destroy the environmental resources on which it depends. Moreover, tourism can put enormous pressure on an area and lead to impacts such as:soil erosion, pollution, natural habitat loss and pressure on the endangered species and many more.

Since, the Himalayan region is mountainous, it has very few lands which are suitable for development of proper tourism infrastructure. Few lands which are used by the locals for cultivation are sometimes being taken  for the development of tourism infrastructure. In addition, increased tourism in the Himalayas has lead to rapid road and airport construction which involves clearing of great numbers of trees. Trees are vital to the soil integrity of the most hill top and mountain ranges. If there are no trees, there is a potential for landslides to occur frequently, and basically destroying the habitat of the wildlife.

Furthermore, tourism industry generally overuse water resources for hotels, swimming pools, golf courses and the personal use of water by the tourist. This can eventually result in water shortage as well as generating greater volume of waste water.Most of the time, locals are left without  resources because of the overuse of resources by the tourism industry.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Plant Destruction

Another problem associated with tourist activity in the Himalayan region is the collection of flowers and plants.The Eastern Himalayas  have been identified as one of the worlds 25 biodiversity hot-spots. Therefore,many plants and flowers such as orchids, rhododendrons,   blue poppies and many more  live there.The Himalayas is home for an estimated 10,000     plant species. But unfortunately many visitors are so intrigued with the vast array of          beautiful species of plants and flowers that they pluck as many  as possible out of             fascination or for scientific collection and study. Likewise, tourist often return with          bunches of endangered plants and flowers in their hands. Sometimes tourist are seen         burning Juniperus bush as it  easily catches fire while still green and serves as a source of   amusement to playful tourists.Experts say that Juniperus plant is a very slow growing plant and takes ages to reach adults size. 
Bhutan National Flowe Blue Poppy
Blue poppies. the national flower of Bhutan, that once grew in abundance at the Chelela pass in Paro has been severely depleted in recent years according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature. According to the society there were about 150 blue poppies in the 1990s. In 2000, the number had dwindled to 20 and to 11 in 2002.

Furthermore, millions of tourist visit the Himalayan region for pilgrimage each year, and they consider some plants and flowers holy, and use in various religious rituals. For instance, pilgrims burn the  leaves of pine, juniper,hemlock and other flowers as an  offering for  gods.In addition,  plants such as Chimonobambusa and Thomnocalamus  are also being        extensively depleted from their natural habitats since they are used extensively in crafts     made for tourists. The rising numbers of tourists in the Himalayas is resulting in dwindling amounts of indigenous plant life. But I'm at least happy that science is helping to save Himalayan plants.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Deforestation and Tourism

Barren areas of what was once lush forest 
Tourism has brought healthcare, education, roads, electricity and wealth to some of the most remote, isolated communities in the Himalayas. On the other hand, tourism has also had an enormous impact on the local environment. The forests are being  cleared at an unprecedented rate to provide timber for the construction of lodges and fuel for cooking and heating. Likewise, trees are being destroyed  to develop infrastructure for tourism activities.Recent studies have shown that lodges on average use about 75kg of firewood each day during  the peak season.
Furthermore, the economic benefit gained from tourism encourages local farmers to increase their size of herds of cows, goats and yaks, leading to yet more deforestation as woodlands are being  cleared to provide temporary pastures and also because of over grazing.These actions often lead to soil erosion and potentially leads to landslides.It has been estimated that 1.5 million hectares of forest cover is disappearing every year in the Himalayan region.Experts say that due to rapid deforestation in the parts of Himalayas could lead to the extension of hundreds of plants and dozens of bird and animal species. With an increasing number of tourists in the region, leads to an increasing pressure on the forests.So, if deforestation continues at the same pace, the future of Tourism in the Himalayas looks bleak. Therefore, we need to act before its too late. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mt.Everest: World 's Highest Garbage Dump?

Everyone knows that Mt. Everest is the worlds highest mountain on earth.  But soon it might be getting  an another title: "World's Highest Garbage Dump." The Mount Everest region has become a major tourism destination. The enormous growth in visitors has brought great strains on the natural environment and produced mountains of rubbish – from base camp and up to the high ‘death zone.'Waste disposal has always been a major  issue in the Everest region since the time tourism started. According to the recent estimates, there are nearly 120 tons of litter and 120 dead bodies on Mt. Everest.The climbers, either after conquering Mt. Everest or making an attempt to conquer it, leave behind their high-tech climbing equipment, plastics, food, tins, oxygen tanks, aluminum cans, clothes, glass, papers and tents.Move over, it is said that  the disposal of human waste can also pose a threat to the environment: if not buried at least 50m  away from water,  human waste  can  pollute  the water. 

At 8848 meters, Mt Everest is the world's tallest, and one of its most remote, trash heaps. Shown here is part of its 
accumulation of plastic bottles

Hi, frozen body!
The petrified, frozen remains of climber George Leigh Mallory lie on a slope of Mount Everest. The lost mountaineer's remains were found 75 years after he and fellow climber Andrew Irvine disappeared in 1924 trying to reach the summit.

Therefore, mountaineering expeditions have produced severe litter disposal problems on Mount Everest itself as well as along the trails.Of the many problems, pollution of water and the environment poses perhaps the severest threat to the health of the natural environment and of the people who depend on the snow-fed rivers for their livelihoods. Likewise, any severe drop in the numbers of tourists and climbers would have extremely harsh consequences for the local people, who  have come to depend heavily on tourism.Unless something is done real soon, Mt. Everest will get the dubious title as well. I don't think either the late Sir Edmund Hilary or Tenzing Norgay will feel proud about it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tourism in the Himalayas

First of all, lets begin with the history of tourism in the Himalayas which is home for the worlds highest mountains."The Himalayas is about 1,500 miles (2,400 km) long and about 100 to 150 miles (160 to 240 km) wide." Tourism in the Himalayas started in 2nd century BC with pilgrims coming from other parts of the world for the worshiping of holy rivers and the nature deities. The second stage of tourism began in the 19th century, when the British discovered the Himalayas as a recreation area. Likewise, the modern tourism was started in the 20th century. In addition, mass tourism in the Himalayan region started in the 1950's after Sir Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbed the Everest and made the region popular around the world.
The Himalaya,The Himalaya, in Asia, is the highest mountain system in the world.
Today due to tourism,  the Himalayan regions had an enormous influence on the economy.  But on the other hand, the environmental impact caused by  tourism is clearly visible and massive. The Himalayas is  described as a fragile ecosystem, where ''forces of ecological degradation is building so rapidly and visibly.'' Today, the Himalayan regions are facing problems such as deforestation, waste management, pollution,  trail degradation and so on which are caused by tourism activities directly or indirectly. Therefore, in the coming posts, I'll get deeper into the environmental issues caused by tourism in the Himalayan regions which are a serious problem.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

About Me

I'm Tshering and I'm currently pursuing my Bachelors of Tourism Management at Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. I come from a tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and I'm the only Bhutanese studying at Thompson Rivers University.  Well, not many  people know about Bhutan, therefore, I'm going to tell a bit about Bhutan.
Bhutan is sandwiched between the two giant countries that is Tibet(China) to the north and India to the south. It has a population of less than seven hundred thousand.  Although it measures only 110 miles from the north to south and 200 from east to west, Bhutan - called by its people Druk Yul, "the Land of the Thunder Dragon" -- is home to a remarkable variety of climates and ecosystems. Essentially, the country is divided into three major land regions: plains and river valleys in the south; a mid-Himalayan (5,000 to 14,000 ft. high) area north of the valleys; and the mountainous lands in the Himalayas, which range from 14,000 to 24,000 ft. above sea level. Therefore, it is rich in biodiversity. In addition, Bhutan was one of the most isolated places on the planet until 1960's. Due to this fact, Bhutan has pristine environment and culture. Here are some of the interesting facts about Bhutan:

  •  72% of the total land is still under forest cover.
  • The constitution of Bhutan mandates to maintain 60% of forest cover for all times to come.
  • Bhutan's development philosophy is based on Gross National Happiness (GNH) (What is GNH? Watch this
  • First country to ban the sell of tobacco.
  • In 2008, Bhutan became constitutional democratic monarchy.
  • No back packers allowed in Bhutan.
  • Bhutan is home for 770 species  of birds and 5400 species of plants.
  • 50% of land falls under protected areas.

If you are interested to know more about Bhutan or want to travel there, I have a link posted on my blog. Or you could directly  contact me at