Bachelor Thesis, 2011
158 Pages, Grade: 1,0
Preface and acknowledgements
List of abbreviations
Chapter 1 - Introduction to the thesis topic
1.1 Problem analysis
1.2 Goal and research questions
1.4 Limitations and challenges
Chapter 2 - Wildlife tourism and conservation - the theory
2.2 What is wildlife tourism?
2.3 What is wildlife conservation?
2.4 Determinants in the relationship between wildlife tourism and conservation
2.4.2 Protected areas and visitor management
2.4.3 Society’s attitude towards natural environment
2.5 Conclusion and implications for further research
Chapter 3 - Wildlife and conservation in Germany - the background
3.2 Wildlife in Germany
3.2.1 Wildlife species
3.2.2 Vulnerability of wildlife
3.2.3 Conflicts with wildlife and wildlife management
3.2.4 Main threats to wildlife
3.3 Conservation in Germany
3.3.1 Conservation legislation
3.3.2 Actors in conservation
3.3.3 Protected areas and visitor management
3.3.4 Barriers to conservation
3.4 Conclusion and link to research goal
Chapter 4 - Wildlife tourism in Germany - the situation
4.2 Tourism in Germany
4.3 Current wildlife tourism demand
4.3.1 Results from the online survey
4.3.2 Characteristics of wildlife watching and interpretation tour participants
4.3.3 Typology of German wildlife tourists
4.4 Current wildlife tourism supply
4.4.1 Suppliers of wildlife-based products
4.4.2 Characteristics of wildlife-based products
4.4.3 Impacts of wildlife-based products
4.5 Conclusion and link to research goal
Chapter 5 - Wildlife tourism in Germany - the future
5.2 Trends and developments
5.3 Future wildlife tourism demand
5.3.1 Growth rate
5.3.2 Awareness and knowledge of German wildlife
5.3.3 Interest in domestic wildlife-based tours
5.3.4 Expectations and appreciation of domestic wildlife-based tours
5.3.5 Interest in wildlife conservation tours
5.3.6 Preference for characteristics
5.4 Future wildlife tourism supply
5.4.1 Cooperation possibilities
5.4.2 Distribution of wildlife species
5.5 Conclusion and link to research goal
Chapter 6 - Possibilities, limitations and recommendations
6.1 Possibilities and limitations of domestic wildlife tourism in Germany
References and sources of inspiration
During my studies of International Tourism Management at NHTV University of Applied Sciences in Breda, the Netherlands, I have developed enhanced interest in the link between tourism and conservation. Wildlife tourism and wildlife conservation in particular have always intrigued me and I decided to choose this as the core theme of my thesis. Literature study revealed that much has been written about wildlife tourism in exotic destinations, few about wildlife tourism in European countries, and hardly anything about wildlife tourism in Germany. As I was searching for a topic that was both provoking and challenging, I decided to investigate Germany’s wildlife tourism potential and its link to wildlife conservation. My thesis is intended for all those who are interested or involved in wildlife tourism and conservation, be they specialised tour operators, NGOs or destination marketing organisations. The outcome of this thesis enables actors offering wildlifebased tours to recognise issues of improvement and gives specific recommendations for those wanting to establish and further develop these tours in Germany.
I am extremely grateful to all those people who have been generous with their time and information in helping me to prepare this thesis. Special thanks go to my interview partners Beate Engels (BfN), Dipl.-Biol. Rainer Allgöwer (Officer for beaver management), Dr. Andreas Pfander (GSM), Dr. Christiane Gätje (LKN), Dr. Friedhart Knolle (NP Harz), Dr. Norbert Schäffer (RSPB), Dr. Reinhard Stock (DBU), Julia Pfister (birdingtours), Klaus Friedrichs (Kurverwaltung Helgoland), Magnus Wessel (NABU), Melanie Kreutz (BUND), Michael Lammertz (NP Eifel), Stefan Leschni (Abenteuerteam), Stephan Kaasche (biologist and tour guide), Vivian Sophie Kreft (EUROPARC Deutschland), Wilhelm Breuer (EGE) and Wolfgang Blädel (Officer for nature conservation and tour guide).
I would also like to thank Hella Ackermann (DZT) for forwarding my queries, my thesis supervisor and ITMC course leader Theo de Haan for his interest in and useful feedback on my thesis topic, and express my gratitude to all my fellow students and friends who supported me, including Alena Flamme, Anne Merten, Dominik Pflucher, Line Dubois, Manuel Gude and Stefanie Wolf.
Colette Maria Sosinski
This document has been written by Colette Maria Sosinski as her bachelor graduation thesis for the programme International Tourism Management and Consultancy in Breda, The Netherlands. It assesses the background, situation, importance and potential of domestic wildlife tourism in Germany and explores its link to wildlife conservation. Moreover, it provides information on how to establish wildlife tourism in Germany that benefits both tourism and conservation actors. As this topic has not been discussed earlier this thesis can be regarded as a cornerstone in the analysis of the domestic wildlife tourism market in Germany and the author has made extensive efforts to obtain in-depth information. Two online surveys were conducted to gain insights into the wants, needs, motivation and particularities of current and potential German wildlife tourists and their interest in wildlife conservation. Participant observation and face-to-face interviews with tour participants and tour guides during three wildlife-based tours and interviews with tourism, wildlife and conservation experts permitted valuable insights into the possibilities and limitations of domestic wildlife tourism in Germany. Intensive desk research completed the picture.
Overall the research revealed that the tourism industry has become an important source of income for Germany. However, the modern competitive economic environment forces tourism destinations and businesses to immediately recognise and understand consumers’ needs, and constantly keeping pace with changing trends and developing unique, customised products and services with innovative features that at the same time are trustworthy have become crucial criteria for the survival and success of destinations. In order to stay competitive destinations need to find unique selling prepositions (USPs) - aspects that distinguish them from competitors. The conducted research uncovered that many German destinations could use specific wildlife species as such an aspect.
A closer look at the wildlife tourism market in Germany revealed that this type of tourism is still in its infancy - only few tours are promoted and many Germans are not aware of the existence of wildlife-based tours. Two types of wildlife-based tours can be distinguished in Germany - wildlife watching and wildlife interpretation tours - wherefrom the latter are almost exclusively part of environmental education programmes. The analysis of the German market showed that there are mainly four types of German wildlife tourists that all have different needs and motivations. There are also profound differences between the participants of wildlife watching and wildlife interpretation tours. Similarities of all participants include the high interest in educational activities, high concern for the environment and the preference for online bookings. They highly value knowledgeable guides, small groups and interpretation possibilities and are willing to actively participate in conservation activities.
The existing wildlife-based tours are very popular - many are booked out on a regular basis - and the demand for wildlife-based tours is increasing steadily. Bird watching tours and tours centred around wolves, harbour porpoises, lynx, moose, seals and grey seals are most in demand, but also smaller mammals such as wildcat, beaver and otter are appealing to many respondents. However, there are only few suppliers offering tours focussing on these species and for some wildlife species tours do not exist at all.
Although some synergies can be gained in the relationship between wildlife-based tours and conservation in Germany (tours provide revenues for repopulation programmes, increase the environmental awareness and provide employment opportunities), the strong interrelation also involves some risks: Active interaction with wildlife can lead to severe damage such as loss of fear for humans which might result in aggression, and wildlife might become dependent on humans, which can lead to conflicts and undesirable changes in the population size of wildlife. Wildlife watching tours can only be recommended in very few cases due to the vulnerability of most German wildlife species, for example in case when wildlife is already used to humans, appropriate distance and behaviour is assured and group sizes are kept to a minimum. To reduce impacts to a minimum a knowledgeable tour guide, restrictions and effective wildlife monitoring and wildlife and visitor management are essential. To ensure that tours provide the participant with a valuable experience on the one hand, and provide benefits for wildlife on the other, wildlife-based tours should always include interpretative elements, concentrate on informing about wildlife rather than watching and aim to create some sort of long-term commitment to wildlife.
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Tourism, defined by the UNWTO as “the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environments for more than 24 hours and not more than one consecutive year for business, leisure and other purposes” (UNWTO, 1995), has undergone several changes during the last centuries. Once a privilege for the rich nowadays leisure tourism is accessible to a large part of the population. Domestic tourism in particular is growing rapidly in many European countries and due to the diversification and individualisation of western society (FUR, n.d.) tourism niche markets are gaining in importance (Petermann, Revermann & Scherz, 2006). Wildlife tourism is such a niche market and is worldwide one of the fastest-growing ones (Mintel International Group LTD, 2008a). Western Europeans in specific have “developed an unprecedented affinity for daytrips or holidays in natural areas” (Van Egmond, 2008, p. 85) and wildlife watching is one of the key reasons why people visit natural areas (Mintel International Group LTD, 2008a). Several European countries such as Scotland and Finland have already established an impressive range of wildlife-based tours. Wolf howling tours in Italy and bear tracking tours in the Carpathian Mountains are steadily gaining popularity among tourists (Hofrichter & Berger, 2004) and the Canary Islands record over one million whale watching participants per year (Hoyt, 2000). Interestingly Germany is one of the biggest markets for outbound wildlife tourism (Mintel International Group LTD, 2008a) and for 35 percent of all Germans the possibility to watch animals is an important criterion in deciding on the holiday destination (Wilfing et al, 2008). However, no attempt has been made to analyse the situation and potential of domestic wildlife tourism in Germany.
As wildlife tourism is often concentrated around sensitive areas that are also important for conservation, long-term sustainability of this industry is critical. Case studies from countries all over the world show that wildlife tourism can provide benefits, but at the same time, can be a threat to wildlife conservation, when not properly managed. Yet, the documentation of impacts of tourism on wildlife has concentrated upon exotic animals and little attention has been directed to the effects of tourism on German wildlife. This thesis therefore aims to analyse Germany’s wildlife tourism potential - both in terms of market growth and contribution to wildlife conservation. The main goal is outlined in the next part.
As mentioned before the two main themes of this study are wildlife tourism and wildlife conservation in Germany. The overall goal of the thesis is to “provide an insight into the particularities and characteristics of domestic wildlife tourism in Germany and its link to wildlife conservation in order to assess the possibilities and limitations of wildlife tourism in terms of market growth and contribution to wildlife conservation and give recommendations which aspects have to be considered when developing wildlife-based tours in Germany. ”
In order to receive an insight into the particularities and characteristics of domestic wildlife tourism in Germany and its link to wildlife conservation it was essential to assess the number and population size of German wildlife species, the significance of wildlife conservation (actors and their role, regulations), the current demand side (profile of German wildlife tourists) and supply side (type of suppliers, content and characteristics of tours) as well as the determinants in the relationship between wildlife tourism and conservation. The outcomes of this research were crucial to elaborate on the possibilities and limitations of wildlife tourism in terms of market growth and contribution to wildlife conservation. In order to evaluate these possibilities and limitations both the demand and supply side had to be examined: The demand side in terms of interest of Germans in wildlife-based tours and wildlife conservation and the supply side in terms of trends and developments, impacts of wildlife-based tours, the interest in cooperation and the suitability of wildlife species for wildlife tourism (vulnerability, distribution). The analysis of the discrepancies and matches between demand and supply side and the opportunities and obstacles in the relationship between wildlife tourism and conservation was necessary to give recommendations which aspects have to be considered when developing wildlife-based tours. To reach the research goal the thesis thus needs to answer the following three main research questions:
1. What is the background and importance of domestic wildlife tourism and conservation in Germany and what are the determinants in the relationship between both?
To answer this research question first general theoretical information on the background and importance of domestic wildlife tourism and conservation had to be collected. Then the determinants in the relationship between both had to be examined. With this knowledge the background of domestic wildlife tourism and conservation as well as the determinants in the relationship in Germany could be analysed.
2. To what extent is domestic wildlife tourism already established in Germany and what is its link and significance to wildlife conservation?
In order to answer this research question the likes, dislikes and the characteristics of current German wildlife tourists had to be evaluated and their attitude towards wildlife conservation. In addition the supply side had to be assessed in terms of existing wildlife-based products, their content, popularity and impacts, and the discrepancies between demand and supply were explored.
3. Which wildlife-based tours have the highest potential for growth and will those contributing to wildlife conservation be more successful in future?
The extent to which Germans are interested in domestic wildlife-based tours and wildlife conservation, and the willingness of conservation and tourism actors to cooperate with each other had to be examined in order to answer this question. Moreover, the development and distribution of wildlife species had to be researched.
The foundation for all research was intensive desk research. Specific attention was given to the representativeness and reliability of the sources. Statistics and studies were retrieved from reliable sources such as the Federal Bureau of Statistics (Statistisches Bundesamt), the German National Tourism Board “Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus” (DZT), the independent tourism research association “Forschungsgemeinschaft Urlaub und Reisen" (FUR), the German tourism association “Deutscher Tourismusverband” (DTV) and the market research company Mintel International Group. The review of websites, literature, catalogues, blogs, magazines, brochures, scientific reports, newspapers, as well as the analysis of several TV-programmes, video files and tourism commercials enabled the researcher to look at the research topic from different angles (see “References and sources of inspiration” on page 83).
Field research was of prime importance as the German domestic wildlife tourism market has not been assessed before and no specific secondary data on this topic has been published. The researcher took part in three wildlife-based tours - the 3-day-grey-seal-baby-watching-tour “Robbenbaby-watching” on Heligoland (5th January till 7th January 2011), the wolf-tracking- excursion “Spurenexkursion zu den Wölfen” in Lausatia, Saxony (17th February 2011) and attended the lynx feeding in the Harz Mountains (22d January 2011). Both quantitative and qualitative methods were applied, including 17 expert interviews (face-to-face during the tours, via telephone and e-mail questionnaires - see appendix 29 for transcripts and topic lists of interviews), participant observation (during the tours) and 327 interviews with the demand side (face-to-face during the tours and two online surveys - see appendix 30). To achieve a balanced view on the situation not only tourism experts (tour operators, national tourism board, tour guides), but also conservation and wildlife experts (biologists, conservation actors) were interviewed. The following table shows which experts have been interviewed.
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Most experts were interviewed by means of e-mail questionnaires because research has shown that many people prefer this type of interview as the time, date and length of the response can be chosen by the interviewees themselves. Moreover, it is more cost- and time efficient and the interviewee can collect comprehensive information before answering which reduces the risk of unanswered questions. One interview was held via telephone in order to be able to directly broach the subject again in case of any obscurities or queries. The telephone interview and the face-to- face interviews were semi-structured as they permitted the author to stick to the research questions whilst staying flexible. The next paragraphs explain in more detail which research methods have been chosen in order to answer the three research questions.
Methods to answer the first research question
The background and importance of domestic wildlife tourism and conservation and the determinants in the relationship between both were explored by means of reviewing various literature, articles and websites. The results of this research were then used to create topic lists and questions for interviews. These interviews covered topics such as threats to wildlife species, conflicts with wildlife, conservation legislation and obstacles in wildlife conservation. Thus, whereas desk research was mainly chosen to build up a foundation for further research and to retrieve information on which aspects needed to be assessed in detail, the expert interviews permitted the author to analyse specific aspects relevant to wildlife tourism more in-depth. Experts that were questioned include Beate Engels (BfN), Magnus Wessel (NABU), Stephan Kaasche (wolf expert), Rainer Allgöwer (beaver expert), Dr. Andreas Pfander (harbour porpoise expert), Dr. Norbert Schäffer (bird expert), Melanie Kreutz (BUND), Wilhelm Breuer (EGE), Rolf Blädel (grey seal expert), Dr. Christiane Gätje (LKN), Vivian Sophie Kreft (EUROPARC), Dr. Friedhart Knolle (NP Harz), Michael Lammertz (NP Eifel) and Dr. Reinhard Stock (DBU). The outcomes of all expert interviews were backed up by further desk research.
Methods to answer the second research question
To analyse the extent to which domestic wildlife tourism is already established in Germany and its link and significance to wildlife conservation a mixture of desk research, expert interviews, participant observation and demand side interviews (face-to-face during three wildlife-based tours and online survey) was applied. In order to obtain information about the products in total 50 suppliers of wildlife-based tours of which enough relevant information could be retrieved were assessed. The review of the catalogues, brochures and websites of these suppliers provided a first impression of the content, target groups and characteristics of wildlife-based tours. In addition, e- mail questionnaires were sent out to all 50 suppliers to gain a better understanding of the key success factors, popularity of wildlife-based products and cooperation with other actors. The researcher took also part in three wildlife-based tours to understand the characteristics of wildlife- based tours and to conduct face-to-face interviews with tour guides and participants. Interviews with tour guides, wildlife experts and observation of and interviews with tour participants were used to assess the impacts of wildlife-based tours. It was decided to make use of participant observation, as by observing participants the
researcher could gain deeper insights into the features of wildlife-based tours, the uninfluenced behaviour of participants and the performance of the tour guides. Participant observation was applied during all three wildlife-based tours. The tour guides were questioned face-to-face about the behaviour, characteristics and of tour participants, as well as about the popularity of wildlife-based products and key success factors. The gaps between the different researched issues where filled with information retrieved from desk research.
To receive deeper insights into the characteristics of current German wildlife tourists it was decided to make use of an online survey because this type of survey has the advantage of reducing research time due to automated data collection - whilst responses for the online survey were collected the author could simultaneously work on other issues. Moreover, this method was selected as people in face-to-face interviews are often not willing to answer sensitive issues such as income and education level. Next to demographic data the survey assessed booking behaviour, length of stay, expenditures, motivations and satisfaction levels of German participants of wildlife- based tours, consisted of 10 questions and was filled in by 40 Germans. To simplify the evaluation of the outcomes only closed questions were used - except from one question (where criticism on the tours could be given). However, under each question the respondents could add a voluntary comment to explain their selection. This turned out a success in the end as many comments revealed deeper insights into the wants and needs of the demand side. All questions were in German to avoid confusion or misunderstandings and to ensure that only German speaking respondents filled in the survey, which was important as this thesis only aims to assess the German market. The outcomes of this online survey were supplemented by expert interviews (face-to-face and e-mail questionnaires), participant interviews (face-to-face) and participant observation (during wildlife-based tours). At the end of each tour some participants (in total 59) and the tour guides (in total 3) were interviewed face-to-face. Whereas the interviews with the tour guides can be categorised as semi-structured in-depth-interviews, the participant interviews were conducted spontaneously, randomly and unstructured. The unstructured, spontaneous interviews with tour participants allowed gaining momentum and revealing undiscovered information. The participant interviews revealed information about their motivations, demographic data and attitude towards wildlife and the interviews with tour guides about their experiences with tour participants (such as behaviour, usual group sizes, seasonality, characteristics of participants, their background). The link for this survey was published on websites, in forums and social media groups (on facebook and studivz) directly related to wildlife tourism or animals (such as tierforum.de, tiercommunity.de, reisen.de and fernwehforum.de).
Methods to answer the third research question
In order to assess which wildlife-based tours have the highest potential for growth and if those contributing to wildlife conservation will be more successful in future further in-depth information on the demand and supply side had to be retrieved. A second online survey was created to assess the future demand of domestic wildlife tourism in Germany (number of responses: 228). The questions in the survey were based on the outcomes gained from desk research. For example the selection of wildlife species was based on the results of literature review which revealed that large mammals attract most tourists worldwide. To minimize falsification special attention was given to the order of the questions: Each question had to be filled in separately, so that the respondents could not check following questions beforehand to retrieve information on the answers. Questions were also ranked psychologically, which implies starting with an interesting question, leading over to the more difficult ones and ending with easy ones (demographic data). For the same reasons mentioned above, all questions (except from one - where criticism on the tours could be given) were closed and extended by comment fields. To make the survey more appealing the second question was extended by pictures of the wildlife species asked about in question one. Most questions allowed multiple choices and could be ranked (not only yes and no but for instance ranging from “totally agree”, “partly agree” to “mostly disagree” and “totally disagree”) to avoid people feeling constrained and randomly selecting one answer. The category “I am not sure” or “do not know” was left out as this option can lead to respondents avoiding really thinking about the other options. As in the beginning the questionnaire was filled in by many Germans under 30 years the link was later on distributed in groups and forums addressing older people (such as “Ü40”) in order to receive a better cross section of the German population. The introduction text was adapted according to the different age groups (for example younger age groups were addressed with “du”, older ones with the formal expression “Sie” and people in travel blogs were addressed with “Dear travel mates” etc.).
As it was important to receive a high response rate in order to increase the representativeness of the outcomes it was decided to offer a prize as a reward for filling in the survey completely: Among the respondents that answered all questions a wildlife-based tour was ruffled (“lynx-ticket” - a three day tour worth 119 euro in the Harz Mountains). The prize was mentioned in the headline to arouse interest. This led to a quick distribution of the online survey. To obviate the risk of people just clicking through the questions in order to make a chance winning the price the completion of every question was mandatory to get to the next question (the e-mail-address - which was necessary to take part in the ruffle - could only be filled in on the last page of the survey). The link of the survey was placed on websites, in forums and social-network-groups (facebook and studivz) related to tourism, nature and various interests. It was taken care that the links were equally distributed.
To receive information on the growth rate of wildlife tourism, tourism experts (tour guides and representatives from tour operators and tourism authorities) were interviewed and literature was reviewed. Desk research was used to either research those aspects which could not be retrieved from field research, or to confirm or support the outcomes of field research. Tourism, wildlife and conservation actors were also questioned about their interest in implementing wildlife-based products and cooperation with other actors. The distribution of popular wildlife species and their subsequent adaptability was explored by means of reviewing literature, scientific reports and articles and interviews with wildlife and conservation actors.
The author of this thesis has made extensive efforts to confirm the accuracy of the information contained in this research. However, the representativeness of the outcomes of this research is limited due to several factors.
The fact that the thesis subject has not been assessed before implied that the researcher was highly dependent on primary data. The assessment of the possibilities and limitations of wildlife tourism in terms of market growth and contribution to wildlife conservation as well as the recommendations are therefore to a large part based on the results of in total 327 demand side interviews, 17 expert interviews and the analysis of 50 suppliers of wildlife-based tours. This means that no comprehensive analysis could be carried out and the results are not applicable to every destination. The thesis rather is a study providing reliable in-depth information on current and potential German wildlife tourists, a useful overview of the situation, impacts and characteristics of domestic wildlife tourism, wildlife conservation and their relationship in Germany and builds the basis for further research.
Due to the fact that the researcher had to carry out the research under her sole responsibility without the help of external manpower within a limited time frame, most expert interviews were conducted via e-mail and the vast majority of the demand side was interviewed by means of two online surveys. This can be seen as a limitation, as questions might be misinterpreted and no supplementary questions could be asked. The main weakness of online surveys is that the researcher has no control about who fills in the survey and the level of falsification is higher as in face-to-face interviews due to the anonymity. To prevent people from filling in the survey more than once, therefore both surveys could only be filled in once from each IP-address. To ensure that only Germans fill in the survey all questions were held in German and the link was only published on German websites, forums, travel blogs or social-network-groups.
A challenge has been that many of the online-survey-links were deleted by the website or group administrators right after being released - often without proper explanations and immediate cancellation of accounts and despite having contacted the administrator beforehand - which required the researcher to invest more time to distribute the links. Furthermore, much time was needed to translate aspects from interviews, literature etc. from German into English. The translations also involve the risk that the English information differs from what the interviewees intended to express. As this thesis is not written in the field of conservation but international
tourism management, the author had to acquire extensive knowledge in the field of nature and wildlife conservation, which consumed a lot of time.
The structure of this thesis is build around the three research questions. Chapter 2 and 3 answer the first research question, chapter 4 the second and chapter 5 the third one. Chapter 6 links all outcomes to the research goal and summarises the main possibilities, limitations and recommendations.
Having introduced the reader to the research problem, goal, questions, methodology and limitations in the present chapter 1, chapter 2 takes the reader to the roots of wildlife tourism and conservation and assesses the determinants in the relationship between both. In the end a conclusion is drawn in which the implications for further research are presented.
Chapter 3 entails detailed information on the background of wildlife tourism and conservation in Germany, including the number of wildlife species, their vulnerability, conflicts with wildlife and the main threats to them and on conservation actors, legislation and protected areas and visitor management. The last part consists of a summary of the main findings along with their link to the research goal.
In chapter 4 the current situation of wildlife tourism in Germany is presented: It provides insights into the type of suppliers and their products, existing cooperation with other actors, the impacts of wildlife-based tours, characteristics of German domestic tourists and wildlife tourists.
Chapter 5 examines which wildlife-based tours have the highest potential for growth and if those tours aiming at conservation will be more in demand in future. In fact, the interest of Germans in wildlife-based tours and conservation was analysed and the distribution of the most popular wildlife species and cooperation possibilities was assessed.
Chapter 6 summarises the main findings and links the outcomes of all chapters in order to give specific recommendations which aspects need to be considered when developing wildlife-based tours in Germany. The chapter is concluded by one concrete product suggestion.
In order to give deeper insights into the particularities of wildlife tourism and its link to conservation, as well as to show the diversity of both, several issues were extended by examples (highlighted in framed boxes).
In order to answer the first research question “What is the background and importance of domestic wildlife tourism and conservation in Germany and what are the determinants in the relationship between both?” it was necessary to collect general theoretical information on wildlife tourism and conservation and the relation between the two. Part 2.2 provides the reader with information on the definition and types of wildlife tourism and part 2.3 on the definition and components of wildlife conservation. Part 2.4 explores determining aspects in the relationship between wildlife tourism and conservation. A conclusion is drawn in part 2.5, in which the elements that need to be assessed in order to fulfil the research goal are summarised.
Wildlife tourism (or wildlife-based tourism) is, in its simplest sense, leisure tourism undertaken to observe, encounter or track non-domesticated animals. It is a subset of nature-based tourism (tourism for the purpose of enjoying natural attractions and engaging in outdoor activities) and often takes place in protected areas (McCool & Moisey, 2009). There are different types of wildlife tourism that can best be distinguished by the level of interaction with wildlife: Duffus and Dearden (as cited in Newsome, Dowling & Moore, 2005) differentiate between three dimensions of wildlife- human interaction - consumptive, low-consumptive and non-consumptive. Examples for consumptive interaction are activities such as hunting and fishing, for low-consumptive interaction zoos and aquariums and for non-consumptive interaction wildlife observation and photography. In addition, interactions with wildlife can be passive or active: Whereas feeding and touching are active, observation and photographing are passive. Often active involvement with wildlife is limited to captive circumstances (zoos etc.) and forbidden in free-ranging circumstances to reduce negative impacts (more about impacts see part 2.4.1). The comparison of secondary data permitted a further distinction of types of wildlife-based tours: (1) Tours where observing wildlife is the primary goal (called “wildlife watching tours” in this thesis) and (2) tours where imparting knowledge about wildlife is the main objective (called “wildlife interpretation tours” in this thesis).
Nature conservation and wildlife conservation both aim to conserve biodiversity (the totality of genes, species, and ecosystems of a specific geographical area). Wildlife conservation in particular, focuses on protecting and preserving wildlife species (especially endangered and vulnerable species) and their natural habitat through several measures including wildlife management, which is, briefly worded the “application of scientific knowledge and technical skills to protect, conserve, limit, enhance, or create wildlife habitat” (Wildlife management, n.d.). Environmental education (EE), scientific research and monitoring as well as laws protecting wildlife and nature, are the main tools of wildlife management. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) defines EE as “the process of recognizing values and clarifying concepts in order to develop skills and attitudes necessary to understand and appreciate the interrelatedness among men, his culture and his biophysical surroundings” . In fact, actors involved in wildlife and nature conservation (such as protected areas) use EE to educate people about their environment in order to support and enhance the understanding and appreciation of wildlife and nature. Regulations and laws are necessary to emphasise the importance of wildlife conservation on a political level and to protect vulnerable species. Long-term monitoring and research contribute to increasing knowledge and better understanding of wildlife species and their habitat and thus are crucial to the conservation of wildlife and nature.
Tourism and nature conservation are strongly interrelated: Although wildlife conservation exists independently from tourism, several case studies show that wildlife tourism strongly influences wildlife and the conservation of wildlife. In some regions wildlife conservation could even not function without the financial support of wildlife tourism. Tourism is dependent on nature conservation as intact nature and wildlife are an important resource for tourism. Nature conservation ensures the maintenance of natural areas, which are of major importance for the tourism industry - coastal areas, mountains and wetlands for example are popular tourism attractions. Wildlife conservation ensures the survival of wildlife species, which are the foundation for wildlife tourism. Wildlife - as the resource of both wildlife tourism and conservation - is thus the key link between wildlife tourism and conservation.
The review of literature (Buckley, 2010; Butler & Boyd, 2000; Eagles & McCool, 2002; Higginbottom et al., 2001; Higginbottom & Tribe, 2004; Mallya, 2006; Newsome, Dowling & Moore, 2005; O’Reilly & Murphy, 2010; Shackley, 1996; Stolton & Dudley, 2010) revealed that in addition to the resource wildlife there are three further aspects linking wildlife tourism and conservation - (1) the impacts of tourism on conservation (desirable and undesirable), (2) protected areas and visitor management (as measures to minimize undesirable impacts) and (3) society’s attitude towards the natural environment (behaviour of people affects environment and demand influences supply). The characteristics and role of them is outlined in the following paragraphs.
A comparison of case studies and literature (Buckley, 2010; Butler & Boyd, 2000; Eagles & McCool, 2002; Higginbottom et al., 2001; Higginbottom & Tribe, 2004; Mallya, 2006; Newsome, Dowling & Moore, 2005; O’Reilly & Murphy, 2010; Shackley, 1996; Stolton & Dudley, 2010; UNEP/CMS Secretariat, 2006) revealed that impacts of wildlife tourism on wildlife and conservation can be desirable and undesirable. A desirable impact of wildlife-based tours is that it can foster environmental education, increase the understanding, appreciation and respect of wildlife which can lead to higher interest in wildlife conservation and an increased concern about own impacts. In addition, wildlife tourism can provide revenues for wildlife management and conservation (through entrance fees, funds or adoption programmes for example), stimulate domestic industries and thus generate employment possibilities. On the long-term this can lead to a higher acceptance and support of wildlife conservation among the population, other industries and politicians. Undesirable impacts include death resulting from vehicle accidents due to increased traffic or leftover food of visitors, increased mortality, reduced health, fecundity and population levels, behavioural modification (loss of fear of humans might lead to aggression) due to stress, proximity, transmitting of diseases, feeding, accidental fires, noise and harassment.
Whereas some of these impacts can directly result from a recreational activity and can be observed in the short-term, other impacts are only visible on the long-term. The long-term effects of behaviour change for instance can result in altered productivity or vigour, lead to a change in the population size or distribution which ultimately influences the species composition and interactions (Knight & Gutzwiller, 1995 - see appendix 1). The following table summarises the desirable and undesirable impacts and shows which ones are direct and indirect.
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The main obstacle regarding measuring the impacts on wildlife is that the original cause is hard to trace back. The diagram below created by Reynolds & Braithwaite (2001) shows the complexity of impacts and demonstrates that several factors can lead to the same result. The altered community structure of wildlife species for example may result from wildlife immigration, habitat clearing, changed plant structure or harvest, or from a combination of all. The immigration of animals again is closely related to increased predation, which might result from habituation due to close contact with visitors. This implies that in areas where humans and wildlife interact, the management of impacts is significant to the survival of wildlife species. Wildlife management (discussed in part 2.3) is one measurement to reduce undesirable impacts. Protected areas and visitor management are further tools.
In order to reduce undesirable impacts and balance the use of natural areas, many nations have established protected areas: Advantages of protected managed areas include the control of predators, conservation of endangered species, determination of the responses of wildlife to visitors, prevention of alien species, and the management of extraction, migration, seasonal fluctuations and species overabundance (Shackley, 1996). In protected areas that are also used for recreational purposes, visitor management is an important tool to minimize the number and impacts of visitors on wildlife and nature. However, the quality of the effectiveness of visitor management is often dependent on the cooperation of tourism and conservation actors, which is in great need of improvement in many countries (Buckley, 2010; O’Reilly & Murphy, 2010; Stolton & Dudley, 2010). Myra Shackley (1996) therefore suggests four basic principles of visitor management to combat potential problems, of which three are relevant for this thesis:
1. Separation (zoning, controlling visitor numbers and access)
2. Participation (feeding, adoption programmes, conservation holidays, study tours)
3. Education (provide more information about the consequences of adverse impact)
1. Wildlife tourism in protected and managed areas tends to me more beneficial for wildlife conservation, because visitor numbers and other outer influences can be controlled better. Zoning separates visitors from vulnerable areas, so that these specific areas can regenerate.
2. Letting visitors “participate” often has the most direct influence on the conservation of wildlife. Adoption programmes, conservation holidays and study tours offer a valuable experience for the visitor on the one hand and funds for conservation of wildlife on the other hand. Furthermore experiences in nature can promote emotional affinity towards nature, which in turn leads to natureprotective behaviour (Kals, Schumacher & Montada, 1999).
3. Another vital element to combat undesirable impacts is “Education”. Research has shown that the active involvement of visitors in conservation issues raises the understanding for and appreciation of wildlife species and their natural habitat. Only when people know about the effects of their behaviour, undesirable impacts can be avoided.
The main issue that emerges from these principles is that understanding leads to appreciation, appreciation to protection and thus proactive behaviour. But how can understanding be established? Many authors claim that interpretation plays an important role in creating understanding. Beck & Cable (1998) define interpretation as an “educational activity that aims to reveal meanings about […] natural resources”, “tells the story behind the scenery or history of an area” and “can help people see beyond their capabilities”. It is not information as such, “interpretation is revelation based on information” (Tilden, 1979). In fact, interpretation entails three basic principles: Revealing a new insight into what makes a place special, provoking thought and relating the visitor to the place. According to Beck & Cable (1998) it can be personal (guided tours, talks, demonstrations, storytelling) or non-personal (signs, exhibitions, interactive computers, self- guided trails). As opposed to environmental education (which primarily aims to increase visitor knowledge and understanding) interpretation “is more of an emotionally stimulating experience” (Shackley, 1996, page 209). Elements of interpretation are often integrated in protected areas, zoos and museums, and play an important role in environmental education programmes, which are often designed to influence society’s attitude towards the natural environment.
Society’s attitude towards nature plays a crucial role in wildlife conservation: In developed nations the converting of natural areas to farming and urban development, industrialisation and the pollution and over-exploiting of natural resources have changed society’s view on and perception of nature and wildlife (Shackley, 1996). Whereas in the past nature was seen as something “dangerous” which had to be “controlled”, today nature and wildlife are perceived as valuable and worth protecting. The increasing concern for the environment - but also the increasing environmental damage - is among others reflected in the rapid growth of environmental organisations such as Greenpeace, Earth First and PETA and events such as the Earth Day and the increasing number of companies demonstrating their environmental concern and “corporate social responsibility” by donating a part of their revenues to nature conservation projects. The extent to which people feel responsible for nature has been studied in philosophy under the name of “environmental ethics”, which studies “the moral relationship of human beings to, and also the value and moral status of, the environment and its nonhuman contents” (Joseph, 2009, page 228). Whereas the academic field of environmental ethics already evolved at the end of the 1940s (Huiying, 2004) only recently the issue of environmental ethics has been brought in context with tourism. Ecotourism or conservation tourism - commercial tourism which makes an ecologically significant net positive contribution to the effective conservation of biological diversity (Buckley, 2010) - are relatively new concepts that both imply the idea of treating nature with respect. Holden (2009) even argues that environmental ethics have greater influence on conservation than policies: He states that “whilst environmental policy may possibly have a greater influence in the future, it is the environmental ethics of the market that will be deterministic to the balance of the tourism- environment relationship”. However, as environmental ethics is a very broad academic field instead the author rather prefers to consider the term “attitude towards natural environment” in this thesis.
The previous paragraphs illustrate that wildlife tourism is a very complex and evolving field. In order to answer the research questions as detailed as possible it was therefore necessary to limit the scope of the thesis subject and it was decided to focus on the free-ranging and non- consumptive aspects of wildlife tourism.
Having discussed the background of wildlife tourism and conservation and the link between the two, it is clearly recognisable that there are mainly three elements in the relationship: Tourism, wildlife and conservation.
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The area of overlap between wildlife and tourism can be categorised as wildlife tourism (blue), between wildlife and conservation as wildlife conservation (green) and the area of overlap between tourism and conservation (yellow) as ecotourism, or also referred to as conservation tourism. The red area (the overlap of tourism, wildlife and conservation) is wildlife conservation tourism, thus tourism to observe, encounter or track non-domesticated animals which makes an ecologically significant net positive contribution to the effective conservation of wildlife. Wildlife conservation tourism is that part of wildlife tourism which benefits wildlife and conservation.
Aspects that determine the extent to which wildlife tourism benefits wildlife conservation (the determinants in the relationship) are the impacts of wildlife-based tours, protected areas, visitor management and society’s attitude towards the natural environment. Other key links include conservation legislation, wildlife management and close collaboration between tourism and conservation actors. These aspects and the supply of and demand for wildlife tourism therefore need to be assessed in detail in order to reach the research goal. The next chapter analyses the background of wildlife tourism and conservation in Germany, including the resource “wildlife” and the particularities of wildlife conservation. All other aspects will be elaborated on in chapter 4 respectively 5.
This chapter serves as an introduction to (3.2) wildlife and (3.3) conservation in Germany. Detailed background information was gathered among others on the number of wildlife species, their vulnerability, conflicts with wildlife and the main threats to them and on conservation actors, legislation and protected areas and visitor management. Part 3.4 summarises the main findings along with their link to the research goal.
As analysed in chapter 2 wildlife is the resource for both wildlife tourism and wildlife conservation. Therefore it is vital to assess (3.2.1) which wildlife species can be found in Germany and (3.2.2) how vulnerable they are. In addition conflicts with wildlife and the main threats to wildlife are assessed in part 3.2.3 respectively 3.2.4. Due to the fact that most wildlife species in Germany are widely dispersed and not concentrated around one area, the thesis subject could not be limited to a specific geographical region. Yet, in order to achieve viable outcomes it was necessary to narrow down the scope of the thesis subject: As worldwide large and rare mammals attract most tourists (Shackley, 1996), it was decided to exclude amphibians, fish, reptiles and wildlife species that are very small or common and which can often be observed (European hare, squirrel, hedgehog, wild rabbit, mice, mole, hamster). Birds are included in this research; however, due to the reason mentioned above bird watching is not assessed in detail.
In total Germany counts about 45,000 animal species, but only few large animals still live in the wild (Schulte-Peevers et al., 2010). Yet, Germany is among the top five countries with regard to the number of mammals: A regional assessment report published by the IUCN (Temple & Terry, 2007) carried out that Germany has more mammal species (117) than the UK (90), The Netherlands (88), Ireland (60) or Belgium (79) and all other EU countries, excluding France (142), Spain (128) and Italy (123) - see appendix 2. Nevertheless, Germany also has a high number of extinct and endangered animals: 38.5 percent of all mammals are endangered, threatened or extinct (Barbara Engels, personal communication, 2011). The largest mammals in Germany are the grey seal, seal, harbour porpoise, wolf, lynx, red deer, roe deer, moose and wild boar. Other mammals include pine and stone marten, beaver, muskrat, badger, otter, bats, fox, chamois, European polecat, Alpine marmot, mink, Alpine ibex, least weasel, wildcat and souslik.
Some mammals are alien species, which means that they were introduced by humans. Species are categorised as alien species when they have entered the country after 1492 and have increased in population size for more than three generations without human interaction (BfN, n.d.). Examples of alien species are raccoon dogs, raccoons, nutria and mouflons (Kowarik, 2003). Some of them are invasive, which means that they cause damage as they force out native species (more about conflicts with wildlife see part 3.2.3). In Germany 5 percent of all alien species are invasive (BfN, 2008, page 40). The picture below shows the mammal species that were selected for further research (sources see “photo credits” starting on page 90).
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In addition to the 117 mammal species, Germany boasts 260 different birds (NABU, n.d., Stunde der Gartenvögel). Some species are concentrated around specific areas or ecosystems, others are dispersed throughout Germany. Some are native (kingfisher, great spotted woodpecker, eagle owl), others migrating birds (cranes, whooper swan) and still others are alien species (flamingos). Despite being an alien species, flamingos interestingly attract tourists (Beate Engels, personal communication, 2011), which shows that not only native species are relevant to wildlife tourism. The picture below gives an overview of German birdlife (see “photo credits” starting on page 90 for sources of pictures).
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It was important to assess the vulnerability of wildlife species in order to make suggestions, which wildlife species might not be suitable for wildlife-based tours. Threatened species for example or species with low population sizes should not be further exposed to humans and animals that are very shy might neither be suitable. A combination of literature review and expert interviews was used to study the suitability of specific species.
First the population size of all selected mammal species was researched, however, it was found that monitoring is often concentrated on specific areas (at a local level) and population sizes are based on bagged wildlife and opportunistic sightings, and thus numbers for Germany are either estimated or completely missing. Therefore another method needed to be researched. The “Red List of endangered animals” proved to be a good indication on how vulnerable species are: Since 1966 the IUCN lists animals that are endangered or threatened worldwide. The goals of the IUCN Red List are to “identify and document those species most in need of conservation attention if global extinction rates are to be reduced and to provide a global index of the state of change of biodiversity” (IUCN, n.d.). In addition to the global red list there are also red lists for each country, in case for Germany this list is published by the German federal agency for nature conservation “Bundesamt für Naturschutz” (BfN) and each of the sixteen federal states. The scientific report documents the threat status for a given area and assesses the level of threat based on stock size and stock development. In Germany about 16,000 species have been assessed. Species are classified in ten groups, set through criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation. The table below (adapted from WWF, 2009) shows the differences between the global red list categories (set through the IUCN) and German red list categories.
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The category 0 includes animals known only to survive in captivity, or as a naturalized population outside its historic range, 1 those with an extremely high risk, 2 those with a high risk of extinction in the wild and 3 those with a high risk of endangerment. In R all species that are geographically restricted and in G those likely to become endangered in the near future are listed. V entails those which are near threatened. Species in the categories G, 1, 2 and 3 are all regarded as threatened species - which means they have the highest priority of being protected.
The table on the next page summarises the Latin names, population sizes and threat status of the 29 selected mammal species in Germany (BfN, 2009; Carwardine, 2006; Der Baummarder, n.d.; Hofrichter & Berger, 2004; Magnus Wessel, personal communication, 2011; Mitchell-Jones, 1999; NABU, n.d.; Schwab, 2011; WWF, n.d.; Zimmermann, 2002). The term “unknown” was used in case no reliable or current data could be retrieved.
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The table shows that out of the 29 selected mammals 8 are regarded as threatened: 3 are extinct (European mink, moose, souslik), 1 is critically endangered (wolf), 3 are endangered (grey seal, harbour porpoise, lynx), 3 vulnerable (otter, pine marten, wildcat), 2 are extremely rare (Alpine marmot, Alpine ibex) and 2 are near threatened (beaver, European polecat). Also all bat species in Germany are threatened. In total 12 mammal species are regarded as not threatened (least concern): Badger, chamois, fox, red deer, roe deer, seal, stone marten and wild boar are in this category due to stable population sizes and 5 mammals are alien species and therefore not especially protected (mouflon, muskrat, nutria, raccoon, raccoon dog). The threat status of least weasels could not be assessed due to deficient data, but the former red list from 1996 shows that this species was threatened (BfN, 1996). Despite being listed as extinct, small populations of European minks, moose and souslik do live in Germany in the wild - some as part of repopulation programmes (European minks and souslik), and some have immigrated from the border to Poland and Czechia (moose). With regard to the German bird species it was found that out of all German bird species 100 are threatened (NABU, 2008), including hazel grouse, black stork and the German heraldic bird - the white-tailed eagle.
The implication for wildlife tourism in Germany is that species categorised as not threatened can be regarded as more suitable for wildlife-based tours at first sight. However, most German wild species avoid contact with humans (Magnus Wessel, personal communication, 2011) or are nocturnal (badger). Furthermore it should be kept in mind that the more common a species, the less appealing it is to people (Rainer Allgöwer, personal communication, 2011). Owls are also not suitable for wildlife watching, mainly due to their vulnerability (Wilhelm Breuer, personal communication, 2011). This indicates that watching wildlife in Germany might be quite difficult.
Whilst most conservation actors are positive about the remigration and reintroduction of several species, the increasing population numbers of some wildlife species become the trigger for conflicts. Some examples are presented in the next part.
As conflicts with wildlife influence society’s attitude towards wildlife, which is (as mentioned in the previous chapter) a determining aspect in the relationship between wildlife tourism and conservation, it was crucial to examine current conflicts with wildlife species in Germany and measurements to combat these conflicts.
Desk research revealed that in Germany conflicts do not only occur in rural areas, but also in urban ones: In Berlin for example wild boars and raccoons searching for food in the city cause damage (NDR, 2011): About 100 raccoon families and 8,000 wild boars already live in Berlin. According to the policy officer of Berlin, Derk Ehlert, the problems caused by wild boars are mainly caused by the citizens themselves - some people feed them and thus the animals get used to humans which makes them aggressive when no food is offered. Especially male wild boars, which weight up to 150 kg and female wild boars trying to protect their piglets, can be dangerous for humans. Derk Ehlert says this “feeding-tourism” leads to an increasing number of wild boars, as they reproduce even more when there is sufficient food. This indicates that wildlife feeding is not a viable option for wildlife-based tours.
Although the overall German population is positive about wolves (Kaczensky, 2006) in Lausatia there are some dissensions - some shepherds are worried about their sheep and some hunters are afraid that the increasing number of wolves might have negative consequences for the population of game (Stephan Kaasche, personal communication, 2011). However, the majority of livestock that has been killed or injured by wolves was not protected sufficiently - some farmers still stake their sheep which makes them more vulnerable for predators. Some livestock is also killed by dogs or foxes. Negative impacts of wolves on the population size of red deer have been disproved by several studies and Ulrich Wotschikowsky (2006) revealed in his research, which evaluated wolf packs in the Muskauer Heide (Lausatia) between 2000 and 2005, that the majority of game is still killed by humans - 90 percent of killed red deer, 91 percent of wild boars and 60 percent of roe deer in the area has been hunted by humans.
These examples show that often fears are ungrounded and caused by lack of knowledge. Wildlife management plans are therefore important tools to inform the public about these issues, and to reduce threats to particularly vulnerable, threatened or conflict-laden wildlife. Most federal states possess management plans or projects for specific wildlife species - for example for beavers (Bavaria), moose (Saxony), lynx (Bavaria, Saxony, Hesse), wolves (Bavaria, Saxony) and brown bears (Bavaria). The following example gives a deeper insight into the conflicts with beavers and the wildlife management plan in Bavaria (Mertin, 2003; Schwab, 2003, 2009, 2011).
Example - Beaver management in Bavaria
Beavers are the second largest rodents of the world - they grow up to 1.3 meter in length and weight up to 30 kilos. They are herbivores and most active at twilight or during the night. Beavers were almost completely exterminated in Europe - mainly due to the superstition that they eat fish. Around 1900 only 1,000-2,000 remained in whole Europe. In Bavaria the last free-living beaver was killed in 1967.
In order to increase the number of beavers, between 1966 and 1982 about 120 beavers were released into the wilderness in Bavaria by the Bavarian State Office for the Environment “Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt” (LfU). Currently there are about 12,000 beavers living in Bavaria, thus more than half of all beavers in Germany (20,000), and about 800 animals have been exported to other European countries for repopulation projects.
Although beavers are generally quite popular, there are several conflicts with them, mostly with farmers. The conflicts that are most prevalent are caused by undermining, beaver dams, cutting of trees and eating of field crops (see appendix 3). However, about 90 percent of all incidents occur up to 10 meters away from the water, which shows that conflicts can be avoided. To combat conflicts and to reach a balanced population size of beavers in Bavaria the LfU has established a beaver management plan which counts 52 pages, documenting on the history, mode of life of beavers and on legal aspects. It is for example forbidden to harass, catch, insure, kill, buy or sell beavers and to destroy beaver lodges und dams. Additionally the management plan sets out guidelines how to prevent conflicts. The four pillars of the plan are prevention measures (electrified fencing, designation of buffer zones), professional advice (in case of conflicts, environmental education), loss adjustment (there is an equalising fund for victims of severe damage caused by beavers) and interference (in case of severe conflicts with beavers - for example at clarification plants, beavers may be killed to ensure safety if prevention measures are not possible or did not succeed).
Two full-time “beaver managers” and city councils are primarily responsible for the implementation of the management plan. In addition there are about 200 volunteers involved in beaver management in Bavaria. The beaver managers are among others engaged in environmental education activities, where special attention is given to children. Within the context of these activities individual beavers which are not suitable for releasing into the wild or orphans are presented as objects of study and detailed information is given about the life and importance of beavers. These tours are for free and often booked by primary schools.
Beaver management plan beaver as object of study in the context of EE programmes
This example shows that a lack of knowledge and prejudices about wildlife species can lead to severe damage, such as extinction of a species. According to the policy officer for nature conservation and species protection of the NABU (Magnus Wessel, personal communication, 2011) and biologist and beaver manager Rainer Allgöwer (personal communication, 2011) the main reason why conflicts occur is because people have unlearned to live with these animals. Further environmental education is thus essential to inform the public about the advantages of beavers and other wildlife species that cause conflicts. The example also reveals that a kind of area competition exists between humans and wildlife which again is closely linked to the loss of habitat and a major threat to wildlife.
It was decided to research the main threats to wildlife in order to understand which role the tourism industry has and which aspects have to be considered when developing wildlife-based tours. According to a regional assessment report published by the IUCN (Temple & Terry 2007, page 26), loss of habitat/degradation, pollution, human disturbance and accidental mortality are the major threats to terrestrial mammals in Europe, whereas pollution, accidental mortality and harvesting (hunting and fishing) are the major threats for marine mammals (appendix 4). Several industries are responsible for these threats, including the tourism industry: Tourism infrastructure development leads to a loss of habitat for wildlife and some recreational activities cause underwater noise (speed-boating, jet skiing etc.) which disturbs animals such as grey seals and harbour porpoises (Dr. Andreas Pfander, personal communication, 2011). However, further research and interviews with experts revealed that the impacts of tourism on wildlife are not as severe as the ones of other industries, such as agriculture, forestry and fishery (Dr. Andreas Pfander; Dr. Norbert Schäffer; Magnus Wessel; Melanie Kreutz, personal communication, 2011). Fishery for example is the major threat to harbour porpoises (Dr. Andreas Pfander, personal communication, 2011): 40-80 percent of all dead animals can the attributed to the fishing industry. Unintended by-catch in synthetic gillnets and drift nets are responsible for the death of 75 percent of young harbour porpoises.
Agriculture remains one of the most damaging industries for birds as almost half of Germany is under cultivation (Wilhelm Breuer of EGE, personal communication, 2011). Loss of habitat due to agriculture and forestry are the main threats (Dr. Norbert Schäffer, personal communication, 2011). For beavers infectious diseases, locks, hydroelectric power stations, weirs, loss of habitat due to development of settlements or industrial areas and accidental mortality due to collisions with cars are the main threats (Rainer Allgöwer, personal communication, 2011). Accidental mortality also threatens other wildlife species: The ADAC Germany registers about 250,000 collisions per year with wildlife - excluding small animals - (Hillmer, 2010). In the administrative district of Goslar (Harz Mountains) for example the number of collisions increased since 2006 per year by about 27 percent and every 6th accident is due to wildlife collisions (Landkreis Goslar, n.d.). 5 lynx died in the winter 2008/2009 due to these collisions (appendix 5). In Lausatia since 2000 11 wolves have been killed due to car accidents, 7 of them were whelps (Stephan Kaasche, personal communication, 2011).
In order to prevent these collisions, wildlife conservation actors call out for more wildlife passages (bridges or other connections) that enable migration of species between two or more natural areas. These are of particular importance for species with a large territory, such as wolves and lynx (Magnus Wessel; Melanie Kreutz, personal communication, 2011). Other measures to reduce these threats are regulations on the interaction with specific wildlife species, such as keeping a minimum distance, feeding or touching restrictions. On Heligoland for example there are several restrictions with regard to wildlife: Sea gulls must not be fed to avoid asocial behaviour and harassment of humans (Rolf Blädel, personal communication, 2011). Corresponding signs are displayed at multiple places. In addition, it is forbidden to disturb, injure or kill grey seals. A fine of up to 5,000 euro has to be paid when these regulations are disregarded. It is also not allowed to approach grey seals and seals closer than 30 meters. In the national park Schleswig- Holsteinisches Wattenmeer some islands (Südfall, Norderoog and Süderoog) can only be visited by a maximum of 50 people per day, and due to breeding birds Norderoog can only be visited after mid July each year (Dr. Christiane Gätje, personal communication, 2011). In addition, most breeding areas can only be visited upon consultation with the park authority. These restrictions thus have to be considered when developing wildlife-based tours here. The next part discusses the issue of conservation in more detail.
As mentioned in chapter 2, laws protecting wildlife and nature are an important feature of conservation. There are several policies and regulations that aim to protect wildlife and their habitat - both on national and international levels. In Germany the first wildlife conservation act was implemented in 1935 in the “Reichsnaturschutzgesetz”. Since 1977 the “Bundesnaturschutzgesetz” (Federal Nature Conservation Act) is the foundation of wildlife and nature conservation in Germany which is supplemented by the conservation acts of the federal states (Bundesländer). These acts are strongly influenced by the international conservation directives and conventions Germany has signed. These are discussed in part 3.3.1. Afterwards the most important actors relevant to conservation in Germany are presented in part 3.3.2. Due to the fact that wildlife in Germany almost exclusively exists in rural or protected areas, the protection of natural areas is a vital element of wildlife conservation. It is also an integral component of the Federal Nature Conservation Act. For this reason it was decided to include a separate part about protected areas in Germany (3.3.3). The barriers to conservation are summarised in part 3.3.4.
Because this thesis is not focussing on wildlife conservation itself, but more on wildlife tourism and the relevant regulations affecting it, not all aspects of conservation legislation will be explained in this part. However, to give the reader an understanding of this topic, the most important directives, conventions and policies are shortly outlined in the next paragraphs.
Germany has signed several conservation conventions, including the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (also called Bern Convention), the EU Habitat Directive and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Bern Convention is a binding international legal instrument which aims “to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats, especially those species and habitats whose conservation requires the cooperation of several states, and to promote such cooperation”. Particular emphasis is given to endangered and vulnerable species, including migratory species. By signing the Bern Convention Germany has committed itself, among others (1) to promote national policies for the conservation of wild flora and fauna, and their natural habitats, (2) to have regard to the conservation of wild flora and fauna in their planning and development policies, and in their measures against pollution, (3) to promote education and disseminate general information on the need to conserve species of wild flora and fauna and their habitats and (4) to encourage and coordinate research related to the purposes of this convention.
In addition to the Bern Convention, Germany has signed the EU Habitats Directive, which is intended to “help maintain biodiversity in the member states by defining a common framework for the conservation of wild plants and animals and habitats of community interest” (Europe legislation, 2011). It is among others built around the Natura 2000 network - the largest network of protected areas in the world counting an area of more than 750,000 km². The overall goal of the network is to “assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats” (European Commission Environment, 2011). Another international legally-binding treaty is the CBD which has three main goals: the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of biodiversity and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. Its overall objective is to “encourage actions which will lead to a sustainable future” (Convention of Biological Diversity, 2010). An example of a wildlife species protected under all these directives and conventions is presented below (IFAW, 2010; Kühnert & Schellenberg, 2009; Stephan Kaasche, personal communication, 2011).
Example - Wolves
European wolves weigh on average 40 kg, stand 70 cm high at the shoulder and reach the age of about 10-13 years in the wild. They live in packs consisting of 5-10 wolves and each pack has a territory of 150-350 km². Young wolves leave their parents and their pack at an age of about 1-2 years to find an own territory. The population size of wolves is highly dependent on the number of their prey - which, in Lausatia, consists of deer (about 55 percent), red deer (about 20 percent) and wild boars (about 18 percent). In fact, the lower the population size of these animals, the lower the number of wolves (as reproduction decreases and mortality rate increases). Wolves have been hunted to extinction in Germany. In 1850 only few wolves remained and in 1904 the last one was killed. Although sporadic immigration occurred since then, it was only in 2000 when wolves were reproducing in Germany for the first time in 150 years in Saxony. Today the wolves in Germany are listed in appendix 2 of the Bern Convention and have full protection under the EU Habitat Directive. In addition, since 1990 wolves are strictly protected by the Bundesnaturschutzgesetz. However, it was only in 1998 when they were protected in Eastern Poland, which is important to know because wolves are immigrating from the Polish border and thus the development of populations is dependent on wolf populations in Poland. All these regulations ensure the protection of wolves, prohibiting harassing, catching, injuring, killing, buying or selling wolves.
This example illustrates that wolves are strictly protected in Germany and the German government has committed itself to the protection of this rare species. But yet, occasionally wolves are shot dead by Germans that are worried about their safety, their livestock or game (Stephan Kaasche, personal communication, 2011). Magnus Wessel (personal communication, 2011) criticises that media often creates a distorted picture of the actual situation and thus people have an unrealistic image of some wildlife species. For example when the return of the wolves in Germany became public, many articles with sensational headlines showing pictures of wolves with baring teeth and dead sheep were published. The BILD (tabloid newspaper) for example wrote “Wölfe reißen Schafherde” (wolves kill flock of sheep) and „Das weiße Fell der Lämmer ist rot verfärbt: Die Wölfe sind nach Deutschland zurückgekehrt - und sie hinterlassen eine blutige Spur“ (The white pelage of the lambs is coloured red: The wolves return to Germany - and leave a bloody trace) - see appendix 6 for full article and other examples. This kind of reporting fuels fears and conflicts. As wildlife-based tours provide experiences in nature which can promote emotional affinity towards nature (chapter 1), these tours could disprove these myths and thus contribute to conservation. To avoid illegal killing and other undesirable impacts it is not only important to set out guidelines and legislation, but also to delegate responsibility to specific institutions. The following part provides an overview of the most important actors involved in or affected by wildlife conservation in Germany.
As there is a wide range of actors involved in or affected by wildlife conservation in Germany, only those are presented that are referred to more often in this thesis. Their interests and their contribution to wildlife conservation is outlined in the next paragraphs.
The BfN is one of the government’s departmental research agencies and reports to the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety “Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorensicherheit” (BMU). The agency provides the ministry with professional and scientific assistance in all nature conservation and landscape management issues and in international cooperation activities. The BfN maintains an ongoing dialogue with policymakers, businesses, the scientific community, educators and the media, carries out related scientific research, is in charge of a number of funding programmes and publishes guidelines how tourism can be used to support conservation (BfN, about BfN, n.d.). The BfN is also responsible for the selection and management of Natura 2000 sites and is involved in the approval process for activities affecting them.
The BUND (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland - Friends of the Earth Germany) is a “non-profit, non-partisan, and non-confessional federal grassroots NGO with more than 480,000 members and supporters” (BUND, n.d.). The NGO founded in 1975 receives almost 80 percent of its revenues from donations and membership fees. 2,200 local groups and initiatives are part of BUND, taking actions against the destruction of nature. The BUND engages in several repopulation and conservation programmes, among others for beavers (“BUND Naturschutz in Bayern“ and “BUND Hessen“), otter (“Arbeitskreis Fischotterschutz Neubrandenburg“ and “BUND Landesverband Berlin“), bats (“BUND Brandenburg“, “BUND Bremen“,“BUND Hamburg“,“BUND Nordrhein Westfalen“ and “BUND Baden Würtemberg“), lynx (“BUND Landesverband Hessen”, “BUND Naturschutz in Bayern”, “Luchs auf dem Vormarsch“ and “Rettungsnetz Wildkatze“), wildcats (“BUND Baden Würtemberg“, “BUND Bayern“, “BUND Hessen“, “BUND Niedersachsen“, “BUND Thüringen“ and “Rettungsnetzt Wildkatze“) and wolves (“BUND Naturschutz in Bayern“). In addition the BUND is involved in creating „Grüne Korridore“ (wildlife passages). The BUND also possesses a separate tour operator, called BUND Reisen, which will be elaborated on in chapter 4.
The NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) was established in 1899 as the “Deutsche Bund für Vogelschutz” and is one of the oldest and largest environment associations in Germany. The association encompasses more than 450,000 members and sponsors, who commit themselves to the conservation of threatened habitats, flora and fauna. NABU`s main objectives are the “preservation of habitats and biodiversity, the promotion of sustainability in agriculture, forest management and water supply and distribution, as well as to enhance the significance of nature conservation in our society”. (NABU, n.d. what is nabu). The NABU offers a wide range of environmental education programmes, including wildlife-based tours (see chapter 4).
The WWF Germany was founded in 1961 and is part of the global WWF network - the largest privately owned and independent nature conservation organisation in the world (Der WWF, n.d.). The six main areas of operation are climate change, forests, freshwater, marine, species and sustainability. The organisation works on different wildlife conservation programmes and offers one wildlife-based tour in Germany (see chapter 4).
The German population, counting about 82 million people (Statistisches Bundesamt, n.d.), is another actor actively involved in conservation. According to a representative study of the market research agency GfK (Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung) about 1.8 percent of the population (thus 1,476,000 Germans) are volunteering members of conservation organisations such as the NABU (Eine Frage der Ehre: Engagement ohne Geld, 2011). More about German society’s relationship to conservation can be found in chapter 5.
Some tour operators donate a part of their earnings to wildlife conservation projects and thus contribute to conservation. Also tourists influence conservation with their behaviour and expenditures. More information on the role of tour operators and tourists in wildlife conservation can be found in chapter 4.
The authorities of protected areas in Germany play an important role in wildlife conversation, as they offer a wide range of environmental education programmes to educate the public about environmental issues. Protected areas are also involved in scientific research and monitoring and many have visitor management plans to combat problems with visitors. Further information on protected areas and visitor management can be found in the next part.
In total about 60 percent of the German landscapes are protected - either as national parks (Nationalparke), nature parks (Naturparke), biosphere reserves (Biosphärenreservate), nature conservation areas (Naturschutzgebiete), landscape protection areas (Landschaftsschutzgebiete) or national nature monuments (Nationale Naturmonumente). For reasons of clarity and comprehensibility this thesis will only elaborate on the most common ones - national parks (14), nature parks (101) and biosphere reserves (18). The term “protected areas” is used in this thesis to summarise these three areas. The main difference is that whereas nature parks and biosphere reserves are mainly designed for human interaction, national parks allow nature to take its course and visits are restricted to declared areas. In fact, national parks are “extensive areas of particular geographical interest or outstanding natural beauty that have an important conservation role and offer protection to many rare species of animals and plants” (German National Tourism Board, n.d.). 3 percent of Germany is covered by national parks and except from the federal states Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wuerttemberg every state has at least one national park (see appendix 7.1 for map). Nature parks seek to balance between the interests of nature conservation and the needs of holidaymakers. “Providing opportunities for people to come face to face with nature” is one of the main objectives. About 25 percent of Germany is covered by nature parks (see appendix 7.2). Biosphere reserves, covering about 3.6 percent of Germany (see appendix 7.3), are “extensive, representative areas of precious natural and man-made landscapes of international importance” primarily used for researching the relationship between humans and the environment (German National Tourism Board, n.d.). In other words, in biosphere reserves “exemplary models of sustainable forms of land use are developed and applied in collaboration with the people who live and work in these areas that have evolved in their particular way over time”.
One biosphere reserve (Biosphärengebiet Schwäbische Alp), one nature park (Naturpark Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werretal) and twelve national parks (Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald, Eifel, Kellerwald-Edersee, Hainich, Harz, Sächsische Schweiz, Müritz, Unteres Odetal, Jasmund, Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft, Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer and Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer) work in cooperation with the so-called “Nationalparkpartner” - in total 500 hospitality industries, carrier companies, tour guides or other non-conservation actors. The partner initiatives in the protected areas have set themselves the task of “providing an offer which is high quality but has a low impact on nature and the environment” (What are partner initiatives, 2010). Some nature-based tours are the result of this cooperation (see chapter 4 for more information). In addition protected areas have worked out a project called “Junior Rangers” in close collaboration with EUROPARC and the WWF Deutschland (Vivian Sophie Kreft, personal communication, 2011). The project includes several nature-based tours aiming at environmental education for children.
To balance the use of natural areas most protected areas have developed visitor management plans. Interviews with protected area representatives (Dr. Friedhart Knolle; Dr. Christiane Gätje; Michael Lammertz) revealed that environmental education, managing visitor flows (by means of paths, entrances) and zoning are the main tools of visitor management in Germany. The following example outlines the measures of visitor management in the Harz national park (Dr. Friedhart Knolle, personal communication, 2011; Gebietsgliederung Harz Nationalpark, n.d).
Example - Harz national park
The Harz national park has a total area of 24,732 ha, of which 97 percent are covered by forests. The rest is covered by meadows, hill moor and heather. 91 percent of the area belongs to the federal states Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, 7 percent to the federal government and 2 percent are corporate or private property. Rare animals such as the wildcat, lynx and black stork live here and about 4 million people visit the park each year.
To combat problems with visitors, the national park authority has set out several measures, including signage of tracks, access regulation and observation decks (so people do not disturb wildlife too much and do not walk on sensitive habitat).
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