On Brazil’s Amazon rainforest fires, and why eco-tourism is now more important than ever
The fires that are currently ravaging Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are a tragedy. The incident, which is reported to have been ongoing since early August, is devastating, because the rainforest is, above all else, a representation of unity. As the world’s biggest and most strategically located tropical forest, the site has been home to generations of tribes hailing not only from Brazil, but also from Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and the French Guiana. Today, one million indigenous people live across the site.
On top of that, the Amazon rainforest is also biologically diverse, hosting 10% of the world’s fauna species, including 40,000 different plants, more than 1,500 bird types, and approximately 2.5 million insect species. What makes the fires even more alarming is that it can potentially affect climate change to a large degree. With Earth’s lungs as its known nickname, the Amazon rainforest supplies approximately 20% of the planet’s overall oxygen levels, simultaneously making it one of our best bets at slowing global warming on the daily.
Since the fires started more than two weeks ago, the smoke that has been produced has, alarmingly, reached Sao Paulo, which is more than 1,700 miles away. This has caused pitch-black sky and an atmosphere of smoke and ashes to loom over the city, even at midday. A bird’s eye map released by the European Union’s satellite program, Copernicus, has visually confirmed the spreading of the smoke right to the east Atlantic coast, thus covering nearly half of Brazil and now inching into Peruvian, Bolivian, and Paraguayan borders. So with much of it still burning at an alarming rate right now, it is worth revisiting the aspect of climate change and how all of us, including tourism stakeholders and travellers alike, can do our part in improving the situation.
Why eco-tourism is the way forward
So many citizens across the world seem to agree that the Amazon rainforest fires are a historical event, albeit an incredibly unfortunate one. Such consensus is not surprising, given the fact that we are now forced to probe the underlying issues that have contributed to the event, and thus, the potential climate and environmental changes that can likely occur as a result of it. Whether it was caused by natural happenstance or intentionally set to further a political motive, the main point remains unchanged: deforestation and climate change are potentially the ultimate aftermaths of this tragedy. One of the ways that global tourism and travel stakeholders can do to help turn it all around is through gradually embrace eco-tourism.
What travel agencies can do
It is time for travel agencies and tourism boards everywhere to ask the big question: what entails sustainable tourism, especially when it comes to precious natural destinations such as the Amazon rainforest? Many experts have agreed that when done right and with the best interests of the people in mind, eco-tourism can help a developing country produce long-term revenue through the preservation of its nature instead short-term exploitations that rely on the destruction of nature (such as deforestation). Earned money could, in turn, be channelled towards boosting its local infrastructures, the economy, and thus, the livelihood of their people, all of which would, at large, continue to maintain and expand its entire tourism ecosystem. With this in mind, travel sectors and tourism stakeholders would do well to include this in their business plans.
At Fayyaz Travels, for instance, we believe in innovation and adaptation. Many itineraries we have created and customised were made to restore among travellers the inherent sense of awe over Earth’s natural wonders, far beyond historical events and political aftermaths. Whether it’s a series of Indian caves accessible by train, plantation stays that go back to local businesses, or simply kid-friendly wildlife adventures, there are plenty of nature-themed ways you can choose from and enjoy, without sacrificing environmental balance.
How travellers can help out
Understandably, there cannot be thorough incorporation of sustainable and eco-friendly values and practices within travel and tourism sectors if demands for them are not enough. Therefore, it is imperative for every traveller today to reevaluate what ‘travelling’ truly means to them.
Is it always just about exclusive entries, shopping, and tagged Instagram posts? Or could it also be about the surroundings, people, and cultural undertones that backbone a new destination? And while established urban cities such as New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo are always enticing to the eyes and mind, there are ultimately even more untouched places across the world that hold just as many, if not, wonders that enchant the heart.
Of course, does not necessarily have to sign up for eco-themed vacations in remote areas to do your part in appreciating the Earth as it is. While on holiday, take up or participate in activities that revolve around the appreciation of nature, such as safari visits, rock climbing, boating, swimming, hiking, and trekking. You can also ask around to discover timely programmes that could help deepen your understanding of the environmental efforts and ecological solutions being carried out on local soil.
It could even be as simple as reducing your plastic usage and keeping only reusable items with you on the go. No matter where you are when you are travelling, the most important point to remember is that you can always do your part in maintaining Earth’s health by being aware of your internal capacity to appreciate your external environment without taking anything away from it.
Want to explore the beauty of the Earth without leaving damaging trails? You can now customise your own sustainable vacation with Fayyaz Travels! Send us a request detailing your needs and concerns, and we will come up with the best nature-respecting itinerary you never thought was possible.