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Monday, April 9 • 5:30pm - 7:00pm
POSTER: Evaluating the Effects of Ecotourism on Forests in the Trans-Himalayan Biodiversity Hotspot Using Counterfactual Analysis

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AUTHORS: Jodi Brandt*, Boise State University; Volker Radeloff, University of Wisconsin; Teri Allendorf, University of Wisconsin; Van Butsic, University of California-Berkeley

ABSTRACT: Ecotourism is growing rapidly in biodiversity hotspots around the world, but there is limited and mixed empirical evidence that ecotourism achieves positive biodiversity outcomes. Our goal was to assess whether tourism is an effective conservation tool by empirically evaluating the association between ecotourism and deforestation in Himalayan temperate forests using a counterfactual analytical approach. We compared deforestation rates from 2000 – 2015 in 15 ecotourism and non-tourism areas across four Himalayan countries. We used matching to control for local-level determinants of forest loss, such as population density, market access and topography. In three of four countries, we found that ecotourism areas experienced rates of forest loss that were comparable to non-tourism areas. Ecotourism areas had less deforestation only in the Chinese Himalaya, where overall, deforestation rates are high due to an emphasis on highly-extractive development strategies. Our results suggest that ecotourism, as it is currently practiced in the Himalaya, should not be considered a forest conservation strategy except under conditions of high deforestation pressure (such as is in China) because it contributes to net forest loss.

Monday April 9, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm CDT
Monroe Room

Attendees (5)