Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mis-Guided Guidelines?

The new guidelines about "Eco-tourism" need to be more than fancy mathematical formulae

Last week the Ministry of Environment & forest (MoEF) on their website published a draft before issuing of the final guidelines for Ecotourism in and around Protected Areas. It has asked people to come forward and make suggestions over the draft guidelines.

It is a fair and pleasant approach that the public is been involved in making such policies. These guidelines have mainly two objectives – provide alternative livelihood opportunities for the local communities and second having low impact tourism that protects ecological integrity of wilderness areas, secure wildlife values of the destinations and its surrounding areas.

The entire countries conservation and tourism circles have been brainstorming on this issue. Many people - some are against the guidelines while some are in favour of it. Some conservationist and tourism people were involved in the initial stage of the guideline drafting committee and they say that though they were there but their concerns were not involved in making of these guidelines. The debatable topic here is that those suggestions from the committee members were not accepted, will the suggestions invited from local people be accepted; or is it just a way to show concern by the government. Looking at the report a nonprofessional may be baffled as it has so many scientific terms and mathematical formulas. Use of eco-friendly words make it sound like a scientific paper. However, as you go into understanding the depth of it the scientific uncloaking will reveal otherwise, the eco-friendly make up starts to fizz, which I will be discussing shortly.

Here we would discuss the mathematical formula:


(Model Calculation, Example: Kanha Tiger Reserve)

(a) Physical Carrying Capacity (PCC): This is the “maximum number of visitors that

can physically fit into a defined space, over a particular time”. It is expressed as:

PCC = A X V/a X RF

Where, A = available area for public use

V/a = one visitor / M2

Rf = rotation factor (number of visits per day)

In order to measure the PCC to Kanha, the following criteria must be taken into


_ Only vehicular movements on forest roads are permitted

_ The “standing area” is not relevant, but “closeness” between vehicles is important

_ There is a required distance of at least 500 m (1/2 km.) between 2 vehicles to avoid

dust (2 vehicles / km.)

_ At least 3 ½ hours are needed for a single park excursion

_ The PA is open to tourists for 9 months in a year and 9 hours per day


_ Linear road lengths within the tourist zone are more relevant than area, and the total

lengths are:

Kanha 107.20 km.

Kisli 72.56 km.

Mukki 103 km.

Total 282.76 or 283 km.

Due to constant vehicular use, the entire road length of 283 km. is prone to

erosion, out of which around 90 km. is affected more

Rotation Factor (Rf) = Opening period

Average time of one visit

Physical Carrying Capacity (PCC) = 283 km. x 2 vehicles / km. x 2.6

= 1471.6 or 1472 visits / day

(b) Real Carrying Capacity (RCC): RCC is the maximum permissible number of visits to a site, once the “reductive factors” (corrective) derived from the particular characteristics of the site have been applied to the PCC. These “reductive factors” (corrective) are based on biophysical, environmental, ecological, social and management variables.

RCC = PCC – Cf1 – Cf2

---------------- Cfn,

Where Cf is a corrective factor expressed as a percentage. Thus, the formula for

calculating RCC is:

RCC = PCC x 100 – Cf1 x 100 – Cf2 x ……… 100 - Cfn

100 100

Corrective Factors are “site-specific”, and are expressed in percentage as below:

Cf = Ml x 100


Where: Cf = corrective factor

Ml = limiting magnitude of the variable

Mt = total magnitude of the variable

Road erosion: Here the susceptibility of the site is taken into account 14

Total road length = 283 km. (Mt)

Medium erosion sink = 50 km. (weighting factor: 2)

High erosion risk = 40 km. (weighting factor: 3)

Ml = 50 x 2 + 40 x 3 = 100 + 120 = 220 km.

Mt = 283 km.

Cfe = 220 x 100 = 77.8 or 78%



(ii) Disturbance to Wildlife: Here, species that are prone to disturbance owing to visitation are considered. The Central Indian barasingha, a highly endangered, endemic species found only in Kanha has a courtship period of about 1 month in winter, during which it is extremely sensitive to disturbance. Likewise, the peak courtship activity for spotted deer lasts for two months before the onset of regular monsoon. As far as tigers are concerned, newborns are seen between March and May and also during the rains; hence an average value of two months in a year can be considered as the matter phase.

Corrector Factor (Cf) = limiting months / year x 100

12 months / year

Corrective Factor for barasingha

Cf w1 = 1 x 100 = 11.1%



Corrective Factor for spotted deer

Cf w2 = 2 x 100 = 22.2%



Corrective Factor for tiger

Cf w2 = 2 x 100 = 22.2%



Overall corrective factor for disturbance of wildlife in Kanha National Park = Cf w =

Cf1 + Cf2 + Cf3

= 11.1 + 22.2 + 22.2 = 55.5 or 55%

(iii) Temporary Closing of Roads: For maintenance or other managerial reasons, visitation to certain roads may be temporary restricted within the Protected Area. The Corrective Factor in this regard is calculated as:

Cft = limiting weeks / year x 100

total weeks / year 15

In Kanha, an average value of 2 limiting weeks per year may be considered as the

“limiting weeks”, and thus the corrective factor works out to:

Cft = 2 weeks / year x 100 = 5.5%

36 weeks / year

Computation of RCC

RCC = 1472 x 100-78 x 100-55 x 100-5.5

---------- ---------- ----------

100 100 100

= 1472 (0.22 x 0.45 x 0.95)

= 138.4 or 138 visits / day

(c) Effective Permissible Carrying Capacity (ECC): ECC is the maximum number of

visitors that a site can sustain, given the management capacity (MC) available. ECC is obtained by multiplying the real carrying capacity (RCC) with the management capacity (MC). MC is defined as the sum of conditions that PA administration requires if it is to carry out its functions at the optimum level. Limitations in management like lack of staff and infrastructure limit the RCC.

For Kanha, owing to the paucity of staff the MC is around 30%. Hence, ECC = 138 x

0.30 = 41.4 or 40 vehicles / day.

Thus, the Effective Permissible Carrying Capacity on any single day is only 40 vehicles, which should be allowed entry as below:

(Forenoon) = 25 vehicles (inclusive of both entry points)

(Afternoon) = 15 vehicles (inclusive of both entry points)

During peak season (winter months), the staff strength may be increased (only 10%) by deploying “special duty” personnel; this would enhance the ECC to 55 vehicles per day.

Further, increase in the number of vehicles would lead to deleterious effects on the habitat.

The formula given above looks like some kind of specialized scientific work, but this formula is to be understood simply –

Description: there are three types of carrying capacity; Physical Carrying Capacity is the maximum number of vehicles, which can go inside the park. The second is the Real Carrying Capacity it is the number of vehicles that can be permitted, without disturbing the park’s wildlife and preventing the ecosystem from any erosion. The Effective Permissible Carrying Capacity is the maximum number of visitors that a site can sustain, given the park management capacity available.

How they calculated the different Carrying Capacities?

Physical Carrying capacity (PCC) – they said that the square kilometre area could not be applied to the Indian context, hence they measured a road length and recommended keeping 500 meters distance between two vehicles to avoid dust. Which means two cars can be permitted in 1 km, and there are two safaris in the day.

Hence, the total road length multiplied by 2 cars per km multiplied by two safaris is the total PCC. This is as simple as knowing how much water a bottle can hold.

What question arises from this calculation

  1. The main guidelines spoke about opening 15- 20% of the park area & then they came from area to road length to fit the formula. If we have contradictions in one single report then who will understand the report?
  2. What part of the road is taken for the calculation entire road of the reserve or just the one open for tourism?
  3. If the tourism area is taken then on what basis was the tourism zone opened?
  4. Keeping distance of 500 meters between two cars was calculated to avoid dust, but what if it is a wet forest where there is no dust and what if the tourist is ready to face the dust. Will this data fluctuate when there are no dusty days such as the rains or post rains? It is a very relative thing, which is considered.

Real Carrying Capacity (RCC) –

RCC means the actual capacity of ecosystem, which, is without disturbing or least disturbing the wildlife, does not cause damage to ecosystem like erosion etc, and can tolerate the movement of vehicles.

RCC has calculated two types of disturbances one is the erosions of roads in the park and the other is disturbance to wildlife.

What question arises from this calculation

  1. They have classified two types of erosion - high and medium. On what basis were medium and high classified? In addition, how did they calculate that the medium is 100 km and high erosion is 120 km?
  2. They calculated the disturbance to wildlife in Kanha this part is the most perplexing part. In the whole of kanha they selected only three animals – the tiger, barasingha and the spotted deer, why was Sambar, leopards, dholes, sloth bear, guar, hyena, insects, birds, other cats, and other canids not included? They believe that just these three animals get disturbed during breeding time only.
What about other animals?

Effective permissible carrying capacity (ECC) -

This capacity is keeping in mind the management capacity available for the park. According to them just 30 % management capacity is available in Kanha and so they reduced the RCC by 30%.

What question arises from this calculation

  1. In a park like Ranthambhore department of tourism was managing this work; however, the forest department fought and asked to take up this tourism management work in their portfolio.

If the forest department is so short staffed and working on 30% of its capacity then they should not be doing the tourism management work in the first place.

  1. What is the ideal management capacity does there any such calculation exist, how much staff is required to manage said tourism?

Conclusion: they had to come out with a special figure, which they managed to achieve irrespective of the methodology of calculation.


  1. Good Write up. Very Informative! thanks Divya.

  2. The cess expected in addition to all the existing taxes will lead to highest tax collection from any business in the world, how can a business run with such high taxes and yet promote local communities who have to be trained plus maintain all other norms?