Impact of Tourism on Environment

By Tahir Imran Khan

Awareness & importance of environmental issues of environmental issues is being highlighted daily in the newspapers, on the television or by observing our own surroundings. Pollution of the land, rivers, sea and air are just some of the issues we have to face with. Few other more global issues are:

The impact of tourists on environment, due to improper leftovers of garbage, trekking and staying at campsites is enormous. Rubbish and waste improperly dumped is an eye sore, attracts pests and vermin and cause several diseases. Its effect on wildlife, vegetation and environment should be protected for future generations.

All over the world, seminars and conferences are held to arouse awakening about the increasing rate of pollution. Several dedicated organizations are taking part to introduce eco-friendly tourism, which will be helpful to make a clean and healthy environment.

In cities and towns, it is the responsibility of local civic bodies to take care of this problem, while in the mountains, it is quite difficult and hard job. So to execute such expeditions, trekkers are the people who reach the remote far-flung areas face the hardships of travelling and trekking. On their way they dump wrappings, tins etc., which spoils the beauty of the mountains. It is therefore essential that they should abide by the motto "Keep the Mountains Clean."

Every one should, therefore, be vigilant about the hazardous of garbage and litter; secondly arrangements be made for the cleaning of famous mountains and tracks, which trekkers and climbers accompanied by the large teams of porters visit every year.

In Pakistan, there is need to arouse the awakening regarding this sensitive issue as very few people take interest in such activities. It is high time that trekking clubs and organizations should voluntarily take responsibility of this matter to maintain the beauty of scenic areas so that every visitor can enjoy the natural and unspoiled beauty of those scenic areas.

At campsites, usually empty tins, plastic items, polythene bags and human wastes are not disposed off properly and consequently pollutes environment. Such items should be properly disposed off. Human or animal wastes, if away from water source, are not harmful; it helps in fertility of the soil. While, polythene materials need about 10 to 20 years to disintegrate in the soil, plastic needs 50 to 100 years and aluminum, about 100 to 500 years, glass needs 1000 to 10000000 years to become a part of the earth.

Keeping in view above figures, now, the old formula of Bash, Bury and Burn has been changed and now Pack It Out Rule is in vogue. It is suggested that formula should be a combination of both, my suggestion is as follows:

Paper items like wrappers of the toffees, chocolate and chewing gums, empty biscuits boxes and covers of tins etc. should be kept in the pocket of bag to be burnt out on reaching the campsite. Empty tins, glass items and waste fuel cylinders should be crushed and are to be brought back where they should be handed over to concerned people to be recycled. Human and animal wastes should be kept away from water source and pits should be dug at the campsites, especially when stay is for longer periods. These pits should be covered at the end.

It is quite dangerous to thrown the garbage, in rivers and rivers as they are the sources of drinking water for many people. Similarly it is harmful for the fish and aquatic creatures, dirty or soap is also not good for clean water.

Though it is the duty of every person, the group leader of a trekking team, should take care of the cleanliness of the track and campsite.

Tracks and base camps of famous mountains have accumulated heaps of garbage, hence a time may come when these picturesque areas might become out of bounds, due to our negligence. It is necessary to make concrete efforts to keep the purity of Mother Nature alive and to avoid such restrictions.

In our urban and rural culture, people seldom take care of such things. In large cities people throw their garbage on the roads without considering the impact of this to the whole society while in villages people do not care about the water sources, they use pits, which may pollute the source for the whole village. We should be very careful to keep our cities and mountains clean, as cleanliness is a part of our religion as well.

In the past few years, some private trekking clubs and associations have organized cleaning expeditions, especially in mountain regions. Their efforts are laudable and a good omen for future, however it is responsibility of every eco-conscious Pakistani to contribute to his share in this mission. In the beginning it will be a difficult and unusual task but it should be implemented strictly and immediately so that every local inhabitant and foreign tourist can breath in an unspoiled air and enjoy the pristine beauty of our homeland.

Following couplet beautifully portrays the summary of the subject;
Take nothing but photographs Leave nothing but footprints.