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Conservation of the natural values of Hengam Island
Conservation of the natural values of Hengam Island

 

Conservation of the natural values of Hengam Island based on ecotourism activities and capacities with the local population’s involvement

 
Newly identified attractions in Hengam and Qeshm Islands have caused an increase of tourism in short periods, limited to holidays. This unplanned and fast-developing tourism has caused great pressure on the coastal and marine ecosystems, coral reefs, hawksbill turtles and especially bottlenose dolphins. This plan aims to reduce these pressures on dolphins and other species and to organize tourism with local people’s involvement.
 

Project Description

Today tourism is one of the most important and developed industries in the world. Among different tourism fields, marine tourism has become very popular. Like any other activity, tourism has also positive and negative facets. Some experts of the field consider the development of tourism a must. Others pay attention to its cons and believe that the negative effects of this industry lessen its positive effects.
In Iran, the uncontrolled and illogical growth of tourism has caused great harm to the environment and the culture of rural societies. Hence, the first phase of this project consisted of studying the attractions and potentials of Hengam Island and Deyrestan Gulf to gather information on the current condition. During the second step and while identifying the threats we noticed that on the one hand the local population do not relate between conservation and the sustainability of their resources, they do not perceive their role in conservation. On the other hand, they do not benefit from a legal or civil structure to manage tourism activities. The two neighboring villages, Hengam and Shibderaz, have developed lugubrious competitive relations, hence driving their societies to abnormality. The lack of knowledge on resources in tourism has driven all threats towards dolphins as one of the main natural attractions.
 

Steps Already Taken

During this phase, rules and standards were codified for boatmen and local parties and were conveyed to boatmen during workshops. Seeing that the practice of the rules had never been monitored, the Fishermen’s Cooperative and the village councils aided to implement the process of controlling. Also, on the one hand, the lack of awareness of visitors of the sensitivities, values and their role in conservation and the ever increasing demand for seeing dolphins, led us to produce awareness raising brochures for the tourists.
During the first two years work in the area, tourism conditions had considerable changes, but the sustainability of these changes depends on the continuity of these activities. A Cooperative’s Fund was formed in Shibderaz to benefit the boatmen. We also tried to reduce violation of rules by monitoring and implementing regulations.
 

future Plans

This project took place at first with the support of UNDP/GEF/SGP and the collaboration of Qeshm Free Area Organization. In the second phase of the project, Gomash Qeshm Sustainable Development Center has joined the PWHF as a local NGO.
The following activities are to be planned in the future:
1) Awareness rainsing for boatmen, local people and local parties,
2) Seeking a monitoring and/or penalizing entity with a basis of necessary rules and regulations,
3) A study on the impacts of touristic activities on dolphin population and behaviors,
4) Re-organizing tourism based on wharfs or villages limited to Deyrestan Gulf,
5) Reducing pressure from visiting dolphins and re-introducing other attractions of the Island.