Thanks to the Interreg-MED-funded project DestiMED, Mediterranean protected areas have been able to measure and manage the Ecological Footprint of their ecotourism packages. Food has been found to be the highest contributor and primary component to adjust the ecological impact in all packages.
Taking a standardized accounting developed by the Global Footprint Network as a starting point, DestiMED project partners have adapted the Ecological Footprint methodology for assessing the environmental impact of pilot ecotourism packages.
The application of this methodology has enabled 13 Mediterranean protected areas to assess and take concrete steps to manage the Ecological Footprint of their ecotourism packages by considering specific components such as meals, accommodations, transport, and activities. Food has been found to be the highest contributor and primary component to adjust the ecological impact in the majority of packages.
DestiMED's Ecological Footprint methodology has helped both protected areas and ecotourism operators understand where their tours are excelling and where there is room for improvement. Moreover, new and alternative business opportunities have been identified towards a more sustainable local development.
By making better-informed choices and promoting best practices for tourism and recreation, protected areas have managed to address the ecological impact of their packages while improving the quality of the services offered to tourists.
Thanks to the Ecological Footprint Calculator - a free online tool - this methodology is now accessible to all protected areas in the Mediterranean region that are willing to create and test their own ecotourism packages.
The tool can be found on the website of MEET (Mediterranean Experience of Ecotourism):
Whereas this methodology continues to be refined, future applications of the DestiMED Ecological Footprint methodology will look at tourism destinations beyond protected areas as well as other typologies of tourism.
The Ecotourism Footprint Calculator was launched last October in Rome during the final event of DestiMED Final Event with all the project partners Lazio region, Federparchi association in Italy (leading partner), MedPAN network in France, the National Agency for Protected Areas (NAPA) in Albania, WWF Adria in Croatia, WWF Mediterranean and IUCN-Med.
Within this project, IUCN-Med is responsible of the coordination of the transferability work package, to make sure that the methodologies and results applied by the project are known and used in the respective territories, and also at national and regional scale.
For further details, please contact Carla Danelutti