Kerala’s Incredible amalgamation of three geographical regions, highlands, lowlands & midlands makes this destination unique than any other destination in the subcontinent. Western Ghats which towers to an average height of 900 meter, with a number of peaks more than 1,800 meters in height facilitates Kerala to being rich with its forest & wildlife. For centuries, Western Ghats worked as a protective wall for Kerala; it may be because of one of the reason that Kerala enjoyed political & cultural Independency from other part of India till the settlement of Europeans. Western Ghats also support the state for its tropical climate. UNESCO enlisted Western Ghats as one of the top twenty bio diversity hotspot in the world. It can be compared to Alps in Europe. We can find more than twenty types of forest in this mountain region that help to nourish a large variety of flora & fauna. The Western Ghats are pierced only in a few places by passes. The Perambadi Pass gives access to Coorg, the Periya pass to Mysore and the Karrkkur Pass to the Nilgiri District, Palakkad Gap, Bodinaikannur pas connects Bodinaikannur in the Madura District and the High Range and leads to Devikulam and Munnar, the Tevaram Pass Kambam pass, Kumili Pass and the Arienkavu Pass are examples. Among the less important ones are the Kottachimala Pass, the Thirukkuramgudy Birla Pass and Yedamala Pass.
The state of Kerala, located under the shadow of great Western Ghats, contains a protected area of 2,324 square kilometres, with two National Parks and 12 Wildlife Sanctuaries. The Western Ghats of Kerala, with its tropical forest ecosystem, provides a natural advantage for development of Ecotourism. The Western Ghats region of Kerala is a true Ecotourism Zone. It is one of the top biodiversity hotspot in the globe. Recently, Kerala Tourism department & Kerala forest departments join together to promote Eco Tourism in Kerala.
Tourism industry is always blamed for the negative impact on nature & indigenous people. Ecotourism is considered as an innovative concept in tourism that focus on the sustainability of nature & indigenous people. It is not just simply travelling to natural areas, as defined by the Ecotourism Society, it is the responsible travel to natural areas, which conserves the environment and sustains the well being of local people. Today, ecotourism is one of the fastest-growing segments of the tourism industry. Any tourism program which is: nature – based, ecologically sustainable, where education and interpretation is a major concept and where local people are benefited can be called ecotourism. Clearly, at a time when traditional conservation through enforced protection of natural areas was being questioned for its effectiveness and social impacts, strategies such as ecotourism offered considerable potential for integrating conservation with development.
Even up to 18th century Three-fourth of the land area of Kerala was under thick forest. Kerala Forest was damaged in a great amount because of unscientific felling under the British Rule, especially because of the high demands of woods like Teak, in the international market to build ships & railway tracks. The idea of the conservation of Wildlife is only starts in the late 1940’s only. The Periyar Lake Reserve was declared as Nellikkampetty Game sanctuary by British rule was one of the earliest attempts to protect wildlife in Kerala and India. This was later declared as the Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary. Even know Kerala’s Forest & Wildlife is in danger because of many reasons such as; man and animal conflict, fire, Illegal collection of forest product, mass tourism..etc.
The Tourism Department of Government of Kerala has taken steps to give focused attention to ecotourism in the State. A separate ecotourism wing has been created to give policy support for the development of the ecotourism destinations in the State. Thenmala ecotourism project was established in and around Shenduruney Wildlife Sanctuary with the co-operation of departments such as Forest, Irrigation and Tourism. It is considered to be the first planned ecotourism destination in India. Thekkady is another ecotourism destination, which offers the visitor an unforgettable experience. Except Thekkady, all other sanctuaries in Kerala are practically unexplored by tourists. We promote small group – oriented ecotourism activities, in an ecologically sensitive area. Tourism in these natural areas should be ecologically sustainable. One of the major motives of our promoted ecotourism activities is to educate visitor about the environment. The economic benefit of such an activity should ensue to the local population to ensure sustainability. Ecotourism projects the concept of sustainability in tourism.
We Smart Holidays team strongly believes in the protection of natural reserve for the future generation. We also believe development should be sustainable more over Eco Tourism is an alternative weapon to shield the nature from the degradation due to uncontrollable development. Ecotourism can be considered as a solution for tourism related environmental problems. It is aimed at making the visitor aware of the protective, productive and regulatory functions of the nature. Eco tourism is a purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the cultural and natural history of environment, taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem, while producing economic opportunities that make conservation of natural resources beneficial to local people.