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Time for Ethical and Sustainable ecotourism- Praveen Bhardwaj

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Praveen Bhardwaj is a young 34 yr Environment Project Director from the Environmental And Social Development Association. He is an innovative environmentalist and environmental journalist, winner of the prestigious green Leadership award, Abdul Kalam Seva Samman and Bihar Gaurav award. He postulated the theory of Ethical and Sustainable ecotourism at the 3rd International Forestry Conference.

Below is our conversation with Mr Bhardwaj

Would you please tell us something about yourself and your family?

-I am from Bettiah, BIHAR. My home district is west Champaran, famous for its historical events like Champaran satyagraha and beautiful wildlife such as Valmiki Tiger Reserve, Udaipur wildlife sanctuary, and serene lake like Saraiya Man. My father, Pashupati Nath Jha, is a farmer. I have been a nature lover since childhood.

Please tell us something about your education and work.

-I am the Project Director of the Environment and Social Development Association, Delhi. I am also a member of the London Press Club, Britain; a member of the Earth Journalism Network and Parayavaran- Indian environment network. I have a degree in rural development, gender studies and inclusive development from NIRDPR. I also have a degree in green policy from UNCC Program and Human Rights. I am working closely with the different government departments for Social and Environmental Causes. I have participated in the United Nations social report conference. Currently, I am working on wildlife conservation and biodiversity in BIHAR. I am also working on Ganga dolphins conservation efforts and a documentary on HINDAN and TAWI RIVER Pollution.

As an environmentalist, which area you are more concerned about? 

-As an environmentalist, I am so concerned about our future. But this question is not only about me. Environment degradation and climate change are now natural phenomena. We all are facing their effects. Extreme weather incidents are now standard. Flood, extreme heatwave, sudden heavy rain, and increase in cloud bursting incidents are all related to climate change. These all are directly affecting our lives. 70 percentage of wildlife and biodiversity are in danger and will be extinct shortly. The air, water, soil all are now contaminated. If we all still do not take these issues seriously, then our future will be darker.  

Can you please explain your theory of “ethical and sustainable ecotourism”?

-According to me, Ethical and Sustainable ecotourism is responsible for travel to protected or vulnerable natural areas that focus on environmental conservation/education while sustaining local communities’ economic and social well-being. For ecotourism to be ethical and sustainable for generations to come, it must include all three pillars, or the triple bottom line, of sustainability environmental, economic, and social benefits. Ethical and Sustainable ecotourism will provide a powerful tool for stimulating local economies and empowering local people to protect wildlife, rather than resorting to short-sighted exploitations such as poaching and deforestation. Quite simply, ethical and sustainable ecotourism motivates people to ensure that nature remains healthy and alive.

Why is ethical and sustainable ecotourism is so essential?

-For the conservation of wildlife & Bio-diversity, Ethical and Sustainable ecotourism is needed for an hour. In the coming future, India will be a superpower of ecotourism. So footprint of ecotourists will affect biodiversity and wildlife. We have an example like Kenya, where unethical ecotourism badly affected their biodiversity and wildlife. 

Any suggestions for an ecotourist.

-We all know that ecotourism is growing so fast. And India will be the new supermarket of ecotourism. As an ecotourist, everyone has to take responsibility to save and manage the wildlife and biodiversity. Nature has so many things to explore, but as ecotourists, their footprint should not disturb natural biodiversity and wildlife. 

According to you, what is the role of government in sustainable ecotourism?

Government has to play a very critical role. The most important thing is awareness. Government has to organize an awareness campaign before and between every tour. So for prospects, the government have to focus on ethical and sustainable ecotourism.

Thanks for giving me your valuable time.

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