Wilderness tourism policy in National Parks, Sanctuaries,
Reserve Forests and other forests of Karnataka
(Annexure to: G. O. No. FEE 60 FPA 2003 dated 28-8-2004)
Karnatakas total land area is 1,91,79,100 ha. of which forest area covers 38,28,439 ha. Within this, there are 5 National Parks and 21 Sanctuaries, together constituting 6,31,933 ha.
Environmental benefits apart, the forests of Karnataka have been so far looked at as a source of timber and minor forest produce for meeting the demands of the people of the State. Of late, the recreational and educational aspects of the forests have gained importance. General public are seeking to visit the forests and appreciate their splendor and imbibe their values, which is a form of non-consumptive use of forest resources. This activity is wilderness tourism, a constituent of eco-tourism.
As wilderness tourism is gaining importance, it has become necessary to formulate a policy to encourage, guide, direct and regulate it in such a manner that it grows in the desirable way. This document spells out the Karnataka Governments policy towards wilderness tourism.
Wilderness Tourism Policy
1. Objectives of wilderness tourism:
The cause of conservation of forests and wildlife can be furthered if they are appreciated, respected and enjoyed by the public. The Forest Dept. shall encourage and permit wilderness tourism in specified areas of the National Parks / Sanctuaries / forests, as a conservation tool.
It is necessary that tourists desirous of entering wilderness areas should have interest in the flora and fauna. Causal tourists shall be discouraged.
2. Activities permissible for wilderness tourists:
One or more of the following activities are permissible:
Safari in vehicles or on elephant-back to observe wildlife along designated paths
Trekking/ nature walk through designated paths
Overnight camping in designated camping sites
Bird watching and study of flora & fauna
Boating to view wildlife
Any other activity as may be specifically permitted.
3. Facilities for wilderness tourisms:
The following facilities may be created for the purpose:
a. Interpretation centers and guide facilities
Nature Interpretation Centers may be established wherever necessary. Staff and guides may be trained to assist wilderness tourists during safari, trekking, nature education and other permitted activities.
b. Nature camps
A limited number of nature camps with basic facilities may be established to serve the student community and the general public to enable them to get the feel of the forest.
c. Forest Rest Houses
Some of the existing Forest Rest Houses may be thrown open in a limited manner to wilderness enthusiasts.
4. Restrictions on the tourist capacity:
The wilderness areas are sacrosanct, and should continue to sustain themselves in pristine state. Therefore, the entry of the number of tourists permissible shall be kept within limits.
5. Wilderness tourism operators:
Wilderness tourism may be operated through the following agencies:
Jungle Lodges & Resorts Ltd.
Adventure groups like Youth Hostels Association of India.
Direct entry where departmental facilities exist.
Private resorts will not be permitted to operate within National Parks / Wildlife Sanctuaries or their enclosures.
6. Benefits to local community:
Wilderness tourism should benefit the local community, especially tribals. The Dept. shall work out ways and means by which such benefits are accrued.
It is expected that this wilderness tourism policy results in better conservation of forest resources and education to the general public, while benefiting the local community.
(S. R. Vatsala)
Under Secretary to Government,
Forest, Environment & Ecology Dept.