Vol. 2, Issue 7, Part N (2016)
Ecotourism as a Conservation Strategy of Biodiversity in Maharashtra, India
S K Shelar
Biodiversity is essential to human development because of the goods and services it provides. Besides the direct benefits of biodiversity there are indirect benefits, in the form of environmental regulation, soil conservation, and pollution con¬trol. It also has what economists refer to as “non-use values”—for example, the simple enjoyment. Loss of biodiversity is a major environmental crisis the world is facing. It is caused by a number of factors, including uncontrolled land conversion, climate change, pollution, unsustainable harvesting of natural resources, and the introduction of invasive species. So great is the concern over the rate of decline, and its implications for human welfare, that biodiversity was identified as one of the five priority areas for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. It is necessary to protect biodiversity for human development and welfare. There are various strategies through which the biodiversity of the place can be conserved. Promoting ecotourism can be one of the important strategies to conserve biodiversity at any place. It provides an alternative to damaging forms of development such as mining, industrialization, urbanization, transportation etc. Protection of nature is implicit in ecotourism development. It is based on an enjoyment of the natural and cultural environment and so is motivated to protect them. The present paper makes an attempt to illustrate this fact. There are various efforts to promote biodiversity of the place through ecotourism and one among them is protected areas which are reserved for rare and endangered species of flora and fauna. Maharashtra has up to 15,732 sq km reserved forest which is about 5.02 per cent of the State’s geographical area. Maharashtra is rich with varied biodiversity ranging from forests, wetland, and evergreen forest. Ecotourism is key to conserve the endangered species of flora and fauna. The paper brings out this relationship between ecotourism development and conservation of biodiversity. The present study on ecotourism is based on secondary data. The data has been obtained from the related articles, research papers, reports, policies and plan documents of Government of India and Maharashtra. Some data has been obtained from websites of Govt. of India and Govt. of Maharashtra, MTDC as well as Ministry of Environment. Visit to some site has been undertaken to know the environmental status.