Over the last few decades, global deforestation has increased immensely even as people continue to depend on the resources from these forests for their livelihoods. Mitigating deforestation has now become a global concern with most countries embarking on planting more trees to increase forest cover. While aiming at conserving these systems, new systems have now been introduced to research and education being a top priority. Among the conservation techniques employed aim at creating sustainable economies, the creation of employment, improving the social relations and being used for recreation activities. One of the innovative, successful researches includes the canopy walkways whose advantages include the creation of socio-economic metrics through ecotourism. Through ecotourism, which include zip lines and skywalks, the data obtained from this has been used to quantify the benefits of this research to the local stakeholders.
Canopy ecology raises two main concerns which are; whether it stimulates the conservation of forest while contributing to the local economies and secondly, if it can be used to gauge the success of the research (Lowman, 2009). Though canopy ecology exists as a new venture particularly in the tropical forest research, it is important to note that the research has grown in the last two years which has seen the inception of various businesses such as bird-watching, natures, and tours that are education based, spas and, holistic medicine. While existing under the guise of green business, these canopies function as a source of employment, provide income to the local communities and provide education to the visitors. Of significance to note is the first canopy walkway globally which was constructed in Queensland, Australia in Lamington National Park. According to the owner, Peter OReilly, the canopy has been a major contributor to the increased number of visitors in the lodge. At that time, the canopy walkways were categorised similar to the roads improvement, expansion of the dinner services and liquor license. Today, ecotourism is considered as a growing venture due to its international appeal, opportunities in education and the social appeal that advocates on conservation ethic.
Canopy research has been noted to promote forest conservation in three broad scales; provision of education to the visitors, offering economic opportunities and biological discoveries that are published in the scientific literature. Currently, there are more than twenty canopy walkways globally that aim at education and research. Amazon forest is one of the fast depleted forests. With the forest being significant in several aspects such as pollination, carbon sequestration and atmosphere, and fresh water regulation and, prevention of soil erosion, urgent response to the clearing of the forest. This has been through providing economic incentives for the residents to conserve the forest which has been considered as a win win situation (Lowman, 2009). The availability of the local labour and materials has led to the cheap construction of the canopy walkways which have been noted to have increased employment of approximately 212 local dwellers and income generation of more than 300000 U.S Dollars.
In conclusion, it is the undeniable truth that the increasing forests depletion calls for new and innovative techniques to conserve our forests. With the forests providing most of the livelihood resources to millions of people, forest conservation has become a global concern with new strategies being introduced to conserve the forests. Among these new ways that are based on the extensive research include the canopy ecology that provides ecotourism operations, for example, the skywalks and zip-lines. These new interventions have seen the growth and improvement of the livelihoods of the local individuals through the provision of employment opportunities that increases these individuals socioeconomic status. Personally, I consider the venture as a duet benefit where it conserves the forests while providing employment to the local individuals. Indeed, canopy ecology whose advantages include a source of income, educational purposes, and research centres should be sensitized for more improvements in the conservation of our forests.
Lowman, M. (2009). Canopy walkways for conservation: a tropical biologist's panacea or fuzzy metrics to justify ecotourism. Biotropica, 41(5), 545-548.
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