Increasing public support for nature conservation is crucial for successful conservation of our natural heritage. European legislation dictates to a large extent how natural areas must be managed. In a democratic society, these laws need both active and passive public support. Conservationists therefore have a continuous task of involving the public in their activities. Besides stressing the negative impacts of biodiversity loss and degradation of habitats, it is important to emphasise the positive aspects of nature. We must focus on the beauty and inherent value of Europe’s wildlife. After all, it is this positive association, this marvel or wonder, that brought us into the field of nature conservation.
The Crossbill Guides Foundation aims to increase the public involvement in nature conservation in Europe. Through our guidebooks we introduce people to the wealth of ecological treasures in Europe. We focus not only on interested lay people and ecotourists, but also the wider constituency of European travellers.
The role of ecotourism
We focus on ecotourism to communicate a greater understanding of nature. We have three reasons for this.
1. A tourist is already committed to enjoying nature, and is therefore more open to information about the value of the natural area he or she visits.
2. Ecotourism is a perfect way of explaining abstract conservation issues, such as biodiversity depletion or habitat fragmentation. These important but theoretical concepts are given depth and meaning through concrete examples in the field. Ecotourism is the perfect means to provide these examples.
3. When correctly managed, ecotourism can be a means to show landowners that nature on their land has a value, both economically and otherwise. Ecotourism links visitors to local sustainable enterprises such as local products and hostelling.