eco-tourism for timor-leste

atauro island timor lesteFor several years now The Intrepid Foundation has been supporting the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Asia Pacific Program and environmental protection projects in Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea. Lee Tan from ACF has recently given an encouraging update on their marvellous achievements with our funds…

Haburas, a local non-government organisation in Timor-Leste, ran an Ecotourism conference in Dili in August 2009. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao announced that community-based tourism will be a national development priority for Timor-Leste and cited Tua Koin on Atauro Island and Veru Sere (at the eastern end of the country) as positive examples of this kind of tourism. Intrepid was very pleased to hear this news, as the last thing the country needs is inappropriate large-scale tourism development. Intrepid travellers can attest to the successful operation of Tua Koin Eco-lodge, with our groups staying here during our 15-day trip. It remains a very important tourism venture as well as an income generating activity for the community of Atauro Island.

In the east of Timor-Leste is the beautiful region that was declared the country’s first National Park in 2007 – the Nino Konis Santana National Park. Intrepid Foundation funding has supported a baseline survey of the Ira Lalaro wetland by a wetland specialist, Damien Cook, working on a pro-bono basis. Ira Lalaro is a significant karst wetland known in geological term as a polje – a large flat-floored depression within karst limestone. This area has been mooted in the past for a possible hydro electricity plant.

A geological survey by ACF volunteers in 2006 identified the polje and established that it is crucial as a water catchment and a feature of conservation significance. This baseline survey will help Haburas and Timor-Leste develop a better understanding of the area in order to develop appropriate management strategies. Damien will return to Timor-Leste in 2011 for a longer and more extensive survey and to work with Haburas and possibly the relevant departments of the Government. This survey will help towards the development of a practical management guide, to ensure the preservation of the Ira Lalaro wetland both for its conservation value and the sustainability of local livelihoods.

The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
Help support ACF and other great grassroots organisations via the Intrepid Foundation, plus find out how your donation can be matched* by Intrepid Travel!

* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.

* photo of Atauro Island, Timor-Leste, by Jane Crouch

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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