Involvement of Local People in Ecotourism
The Community Baboon Sanctuary (CBS) was formed in 1985 as a private, volunteer reserve, where over 70 local landowners, from seven villages along the Belize River, pledged to not cut trees along the river and adjacent property lines to provide food and protection for the still-abundant Black Howler Monkeys. In exchange, all received certificates for their conservation efforts, and a few received startup dollars for ecotourism ventures. After five years of operation, the Belize Audubon Society (BAS) expressed concern over the lack of distribution of ecotourism benefits between villages and a possible breakdown in community support for the CBS.
In 1992, Dr. Lash conducted 126 landowner interviews to determine the local resident's involvement in conservation and tourism. She assessed local ecotourism opportunities and infrastructures, community management of the CBS, economic benefits from current ecotourism, and local conservation attitudes. Recommendations for ecotourism development and the CBS management were written and presented to village leaders, CBS managers and the BAS. This project also qualified as research for her Master's thesis in Technology and Science Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology.