"Ecotourism in Sri Lanka’s Mangroves: A research on how ecotourism contributes to Community Based Mangrove Management (CBMM)"

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The mangrove ecosystems in Sri Lanka serve as buffer zones, reducing the damage storms and waves may have to the coastal livelihoods. Unfortunately, mangroves can be considered as a misused ecosystem in Sri Lanka. One way to overcome this, is the implementation of Community Based Mangrove Management (CBMM). CBMM refers to decentralization of rights, by shifting responsibilities and authority on mangroves from government to local communities. CBMM is often associated with programs that involve some kind of revenue generation through the mangroves in order to gain income for local people. One of these programs is ecotourism. Ecotourism is in absence of general recognition of the practical conditions under which it should be best managed to contribute to CBMM. The aim of this research is therefore to describe to what extent and how ecotourism contributes to CBMM. This is done through a case study in Sri Lanka. The results showed that ecotourism can positively, but moreover negatively contribute to the successfulness of CBMM. Ecotourism leads to a value increase of the mangrove forests, high participation grades and an increase of livelihood welfare. On the other hand, ecotourism also has high chances to negatively contribute to CBMM. Ecotourism often causes pollution and asks for even more technical training due to a lack of entrepreneurship skills. Besides that, it can be concluded that ecotourism does not have a positive influence on all political issues regarding CBMM. When looking at the social context, there are high chances economic benefits are not fairly distributed among the community if it is not carefully monitored. Therefore, ecotourism is in need of a proper working monitoring system, broad educational programs and a community association that controls the licenses and fairly distributes the incomes. Given the fact that government bodies, in the case of Sri Lanka, already struggle due to a lack of staff members, funding and technical knowledge, it can be doubted whether ecotourism should be recommended as strategy to successfully contribute to CBMM. Keywords: Ecotourism, Community Based Mangrove Management, Sri Lanka, Mangroves, Involvement Local Communities, Touris
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