With this post I would like to propose a management model for rural touristic areas that integrate all stakeholders and interest groups to promote environmental and social practices to develop and position the destination as a benchmark for sustainable tourism.
What is land stewardship?
According to Xavier Sabaté Expert Group Promoter of the Xarxa de Custodia del Territori (XCT) of Catalonia, the first network in Spain for Land Stewardship:
“The essence of land stewardship is the work of many people from different backgrounds which pursue a common goal; to conserve biodiversity, the most outstanding landscapes of our country, and the associated cultural heritage”
The first private entity of land stewardship arises in 1899 – National Trust (NGO) buys 2 acres of “Wicken fen” to retain some endemic plants. This is the first of many examples in nature reserves managed by NGOs. Born for land conservation, development and international cooperation. In Spain it starts later with the “Declaration of Land Stewardship of Montesquiu” www.custodia-territorio.es (Inventory land stewardship initiatives. State Land Stewardship Forum. Spain already has 130 custodians of the land, 1,336 agreements). Recently the land stewardship is being promoted nationwide with the Law 42/2007 – Natural Heritage and Biodiversity, and there are various aids programs at European level, among others.
Destination managers, governments, private companies, research organizations, individuals and entities linked to conservation, are increasingly convinced that we should join forces and cooperate in designing destinations and more important to manage them. In the past this work had been centralized in the government but in today’s time with so many competing interests and influencing many stakeholders is necessary a consensus and a joint strategy.
We must combine the best features of each agent, private company with its dynamism and rapid response to new challenges. Administration as a moderator and promoter of global strategies that are agreed on and are long-term, the NGOs and the general public with their social and environmental report to identify problems and solutions.
At the end of this mechanism the aim is that destinations are better managed and are structured to the potential offer and the capability of the destination in order to not over exploit the natural and cultural resources of the area. The threshold carrying capacity of the destination should not be exceeded.
Do you think this methodology designed to parks and nature reserves should be used for managing rural tourism areas with high environmental and cultural value?
Do you think the Shire of la Vera (Caceres-Spain) could become the benchmark for sustainable tourism through its management through Land Stewardship?