River rafting in mountainous regions of Uttarakhand: Impacts, suggested mitigation measures and sustainability
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Uttarakhand state in India is well known for its mountainous ecosystems, traditional communities and a variety of ecotourism destinations. Among various tourism activities, River Rafting along the banks of the Ganges River has increased tremendously for two decades, and has had unprecedented impacts on the traditional communities and the bio-diversity. Therefore, it is meaningful to do a comprehensive study on the various impacts associated with river rafting so as to suggest the pathways to achieve the environmental sustainability in this region. In this study, we collected primary data from randomly selected population units across all stake holders such as local people (n = 100), and camp personnel (n = 22), through a pre-tested questionnaire survey between August 2009 and May 2010. The questionnaire contains issues on culture, social, economic, institutional and associated perceived impacts on pollution and biodiversity including views for sustainability. Secondary information was also collected from various sources and government records to supplement and strengthen the analysis. The impacts were analyzed qualitatively through a ranking mechanism to facilitate the decision making process. The perception of the interviewee about the various possible impacts of rafting was discussed with mitigating mechanism. The ranking analysis as per collected data reveals that economy and education of local community was improved significantly; however aquatic and terrestrial fauna, social cohesion and pollution (water, air, land) were significantly deteriorated. The results show that the existing practices are not sufficient to address the adverse impacts. Improvement in practices is necessary, mainly in the policy regime. Based on the analysis, some measures are recommended on how to protect community interest and environment with the development of river rafting as an ecotourism opportunity.
KeywordsEco-tourism The Ganges Impact ranking Traditional community
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