Tourism and Development in Mountain Regions

Posted: 14 May 2008

Author: P.M. Godde, M.F.Price and F. Zimmermann (Eds),
CABI Publishing, Wallingford, England, 2001, £45.00 hb

The emergences of 'mountain sustainable development' at the UN Rio Earth Summit in 1992, drew attention to the scattered nature of information on the subject.

Huge bibliographies appeared inThe State of the World's Mountains - a Global Report (Zed Books, London,1992) which marked the launch of the Rio Chapter 13 on mountain ecosystems in Agenda 21, but heaven help anyone away from a few major centres who wanted to consult the texts.

Now things are getting better and two new books from CABI Publishing Forests in Sustainable Mountain Development and Tourism and Development in Mountain Regions signal a new phase in progress.

This latest title arises largely from electronic conferences held by the Mountain Forum since its network began to function in 1997. Its introductory chapter is as good an overview as any this reviewer has seen.

The next three chapters triangulate the whole subject dealing with the nuts and bolts of tourism monitoring; the bad news from Australia where the Mt. Kosciusko alpine region is badly impacted by climate change; and the blizzard of demographic change to hit Greece where depopulation of the highland settlements has brought landscape deterioration, crumbling terraces, and abandoned villages with losses of cultural assets up to 2,000 years old.

Today's threats in this last region are forest fires which increase every summer. The gloom is offset by good news of European finance helping, for example, the sustainable development of the Prespa protected area in Northern Greece, where pelican colonies are becoming famous.

In tourism, culture counts. Thus begins a chapter on one of the vaguer elements in the mountain problematique, where a researcher from British Colombia explores the topic of cultural heritage from arts and crafts to the lures and myths of Changri Las, and how to get the most value from indigenous story tellers.

A chapter about core questions of mountain tourism relating to economic impacts, deals wih the merits of hard and soft tourism. It draws on very recent research in Portugal, France and the UK. Attitudes are changing as tourism policy is seen to be increasingly interdependent with rural development policy, which is itself in flux.

The book covers the mountain horizon, offering contributions on Mongolia, the Czech Republic, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Highland Mexico, Java and Mustang, as well as conceptual areas, strategic approaches and the advancement of women. It is also a sound testimony to Mountain Forum's policy of using electronic networking to promote policy research and debate. Conventional methods could hardly have achieved as good a result with the time and resources available.

However, as fast and interesting as such conferences are, a well edited, well presented, old fashioned book with pages to turn like this one is still, in my view, a better browse than its electronic progenitor.

Reviewer: Peter Stone

Reviewer Info: Peter Stone is a pioneer environmental communicator and Editor of The State of the World's Mountains Zed Books, 1992.