Re: Rusko to slash protected natural sites, Flash news briefs, May 31 - June 6, Vol 10, No 21
Tourism is a mixed blessing to protected areas. It generates funds that can then be used for conservation and management of natural areas. In West Virginia, for example, there is a whitewater rafting tax collected from everyone taking part in a rafting trip. The money is used directly in scientific study of the river. So in this respect, I understand Mr. Rusko's criticism of the Natura2000 list of sites, since I realise how tourism can benefit everyone.
The construction of hotels and further development in these areas, however, is an entirely different matter. I reside in a country where commercialisation of national parks has gotten out of control (e.g. more than half of Jasper National Park being degraded through commercial development). I could only hope that Slovakia chooses a different route.
As a biologist, I readily admit that it is very important to have protected areas closed to tourism and I commend the Natura2000 initiative. However, I am not surprised by Mr Rusko's comments, and perhaps such areas seem too good to be true. If they are open to tourism, it should be for activities with lower environmental impact like hiking, and not for things like hotels and golf courses.
14. Jun 2004 at 0:00