Going on a vacation with family does not necessarily mean that learning should take a backseat. Eco-tourism is what educators call teachable moments or, more definitively, unplanned opportunities to explain a concept that may have unintentionally captured your child’s interest.
Whether your taking a tour in the forests of India, observing the great Indian bustard which is facing extinction or understanding water issues in the Himalayas, ecotourism is a vacation experience that provides a number of opportunities to teach our younger generations about the fragility of our ecosystem and the significance of heritage.
Who among us has not witnessed the common occurrence while visiting the local zoo, going hiking through the wilderness or even watching a local artistic exhibit of younger children looking with absolute wonder and amazement at the spectacle of music, art, flora or fauna? There is delight followed by an onslaught of illuminating questions about people and the natural world.
These moments are fantastic for a child’s personal growth and development and the value system that is at the core of ecotourism can have a positive influence on all age groups, not just the young.
Children can benefit from an ecotourism vacation and the experience offers an opportunity for:
- Instruction about natural wildlife – Ecotours are not only small group tours that allow up-close-and-personal views of nature, but ones that are generally led by a person who has been trained to understand birds, insects, animals and plants of the region and their relationship to the ecosystem, thereby bringing education alive.
- Awareness about environmental degradation – An extremely important component of ecotourism is to inform tourists about ways on how to minimize waste, soil erosion, air and water pollution so as to not disturb the environment – lessons that will always stay with children.
- Involvement in conservation efforts – Whether it’s helping to record sea turtle activity in Orissa or understanding the destructive role of invasive plant species in the wilderness, ecotourism allows for deep knowledge of the fragility of the natural world.
- Focus on the depletion of natural resources – Whether it’s learning about how countries are implementing renewable energy to power engines or how an Eco-lodge harnesses solar or wind power for its operations – ecotourism teaches how the impact of tourism is affecting sustainable land development, public transportation choices and how other countries are using low-carbon technologies today.
- Exposure to culture – From learning new languages or phrases or tasting new food, ecotourism interprets cultural traditions and experiences that provide a long lasting impression about the world.
- Inspiration for a life’s passion – While observing animals in their natural habitat, or snorkeling through a coral reef, ecotourism sparks the imagination to dream of a career in the field or even find solutions to environmental problems.
- Ecotourism also offers opportunities to incorporate a child’s science, social studies, language, or even art and music lessons.
- Dedication to the cause of the environment and its preservation can have a long-lasting impact on the way our younger generations feel more connected to ecosystems. Not only will children establish a deeper, longer-lasting connection with the region they are visiting during an ecotour, they will learn more about how they can make a more positive impact on the world.
For more environment related articles and videos, visit: Environment for Kids category.