- Review a book exploring attitudes to the natural environme...
Review a book exploring attitudes to the natural environment and/or concepts of wilderness and wildlife.
Ecotourism has become evermore popular since the late 1980s,
with it being arguably the fastest growing of all sub-sectors in
the tourism industry (Cater, 1993). As ecotourism grew, the number
of books about this particular branch of tourism also increased.
Whiteman (1996) found that "when properly managed, ecotourism
offers excellent wilderness experiences while contributing to the
preservation of natural and historic places". Wilderness, at the
simplest level, can be defined as a natural environment that has
not been modified by human activity.
'Belize and Northern Guatemala' by Lee Beletsky (Beletsky,
1998), endorsed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, illustrates
the common wildlife of Belize and Guatemala and provides
information on their identification, location, conservation and
ecology. Large areas of these countries can be classed as
"wilderness" areas. 47.5% of Belize is classed as a protected area,
with 15.5% being conserved purely for being a wilderness area.
Likewise, 25.3% of Guatemala is classed as a protected area, with
8.48% of the country being conserved as a wilderness area (World
Resources Institute, 2007).
A particularly useful part of the book is that the index is
split into two parts: a species and a general index. This is very
rare to see outside of science textbooks, or specialist
identification books. This makes referencing anything in the book
much easier and saves time: something which becomes very important
when trying to determine the wildlife one is viewing when out on a
The only major problem with the book is surprisingly, the fact
that ecologically sound travel tips (such as general rules and
ecologically friendly holiday providers) are omitted. It is
questionable as to why this has been missed out, as learning how to
travel responsibly is as important as knowing what one can see
whilst travelling. There could be an extra chapter covering the
eco-friendly tour operators and hotels of the two countries, as the
type of people who purchase this book would be more likely to be
interested in this branch of business. It would be an excellent
addition to chapter two. Nevertheless, this book is an invaluable
resource for anyone who is looking to learn about the wildlife of
Belize and Guatemala, from scientists to the general public. Its
relatively compact size, the wide variety of topics it explores and
the user-friendly language makes it a valuable resource for anyone
that is travelling through these countries.