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6 Dec 05
Balancing needs of wildlife and tourists
By Ben Sutherland BBC World Service, Kuching
An idea to ensure tourists visiting wildlife parks catch a glimpse of the animals they came to see has been proposed at an environmental conference in Malaysia.
Bernard Harrison, a zoo manager and designer, suggested the construction of "managed wildlife sanctuaries" on degraded land would allow people to enjoy what he called "orchestrated random encounters".
Speaking at the International Media and Environment Summit (Imes) in Kuching, he said this approach would suit many ecotourists who did not appreciate that the creatures they had paid to see often preferred to remain hidden. The sanctuaries could be created on environmentally damaged land because such areas were actually often rich in food, he added.
It would also have the bonus, Mr Harrison told delegates, of helping to resolve what was a "constant battle" between the needs of national parks to keep areas unspoilt, and the tourist industry "which want as many parks open as possible."
The director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, London, UK, called for more areas of "functioning wilderness" that were off-limits to people.
Sir Peter Crane told the Imes conference that an area of ancient English forest, managed by Kew Gardens, near London's Gatwick Airport had benefited from adopting a policy of restricted access. One area experienced visitor numbers of 400,000 a year, another limited acccess to just 15 people a day, while one site operated "complete exclusion".
The rare hazel dormouse, found in the woodland, "depends on that management tactic," Sir Peter said, adding that many small ferns also benefited.
"One misplaced foot can destroy decades of growth."
"In the absolute conservation zone, obviously these plants are doing better."
Related articles on Global: biodiversity
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