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The natural beauty of the State, its snow-clad mountains, lush green forest, the rolling Tea gardens, ripe agricultural fields in North Bengal, the red lateritic tracts and the pure sal forests in the South West Bengal, and the world's largest mangrove delta in Sundarban make the State potential paradise for Eco-tourism. 

Eco-tourism is "tourism that involves travelling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the specified objectives of studying, admiring and enjoying the sceneries and its wild plants and animals, as well as in existing cultural aspects found in these areas" (WTO). Thus eco-tourism differs from Resort tourism or mass tourism by requiring lesser infrastructure development and lower impact on the environment.

The key elements of the Eco-tourism are :


  •  Existence of NP/Sanctuary/Nature as prime attraction.
  •  Should be ecologically, socially, culturally, and economically sustainable.
  •  Should have participation of the local stakeholders.
  •  Should be a low profile venture.
  •  Should be capable of forging partnership with the existing tourism industry.

National eco-tourism policy and guidelines (1998) has identified, the following cardinal principles for development of eco-tourism :

  •  It should involve local community and lead to economic development of the area.
  •  It should identify the likely conflicts between resource use for tourism and livelihood of local inhabitants and attempt to minimise such conflicts.
  •  The type and scale of tourism development should be compatible with the environment and socio-cultural characteristics of the local community
  •  It should be planned as part of the overall area development strategy, ensuring sectoral integrations.

Ecotourism spots are available at:
Kalimpong subdivision Lava and  Lulegaon
Darjeeling subdivision Lepchajagat 
Samsing Subdivision Suntalikhola and Jaldhaka
CoochBehar Rasikbill 
Jalpaiguri District  Murthi
Bankura Mukutmanipur
Purulia Panchakota Hills
Bundwan, Purulia Duarsini  
Midnapore Kankrajhore
Sundarbans Sajnekhali

Key players in eco-tourism (implementing agency) :

During initial years, Forest Department of the State should be the main implementing agency. However, attempts should be made to gradually entrust the activities to the Eco-Development Committees / Forest Protection Committees, with Forest / Tourism Department playing controlling and supervisory roles.

The eco-tourism package should include:


•  Simple, adequate board and lodging facilities, ethnic in nature.
•  Road network within the identified tourism zone.
•  Self guided nature trails.
•  Nature Interpretation Centres.
•  Way-side exhibits and signages.
•  Observation towers.
•  Public conveniences and garbage disposal facility.

Periodic training programmes on eco-tourism to the host community will include :

•  Lodge management.
•  Basic education and awareness.
•  Health and sanitations.
•  Skill development for preparation of local souvenirs.
•  Code of conducts.
•  Forests and Wildlife Conservation.
•  Garbage and pollution control.
•  Forging partnership with tourists and tourism industry.

Possible inputs for community based eco-tourism :

•  Creation and management of ethnic cottage.
•  Guide service to the visitors.
•  Sale outlet for local products / souvenirs.
•  Facilities like boating, angling, folk dance, picnic spots, nature trail, visit to a host village and guided bird watching

Is eco-tourism against conservation :

•  Access of outsiders to the P.As may endanger the Biodiversity of the P.A.s
•  There may be a tendency to use Forest Land for building up infrastructure for tourism
•  Ecotourism is not F.D's business - the field staff get diverted from normal forestry works

Benefits of Eco-tourism ::

•  Brings the conservation efforts to public view
•  Increased awareness about P.A.s creates peer pressure for their conservtion
•  Helps in mobilization of resources for P.A. management
•  Strengthens interface between eco-tourists and local people

For more detail please visit : www.wbfdc.com.

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