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Top>Hakumon CHUO [2011 Autumn Issue]>[Open Campus]Mock lesson for everyone Interested in Chuo University

Hakumon CHUOIndex

[Open Campus]Mock lesson for everyone Interested in Chuo University

Seeking balance between tourism and the environment-Reflections from World Heritage Sites

Masahiro Yabuta
Professor, Faculty of Economics, Chuo University

Almost all the seats in Classroom #8307 were full even 15 minutes before the start of the mock lecture. Each of the attending high school students eagerly awaited the start of the class and prepared by opening their notebooks.

Professor Yabuta began his lecture with the following statement: "The Faculty of Economics deals with how market mechanisms currently functions." After using slides to explain the demand-supply curve which is the base of economics, he entered the main theme of his lecture: Can tourism and environmental protection be balanced?

Management/operation of CPRs

To begin, Professor Yabuta discussed CPRs, which is one approach for dealing with environmental issues. CPRs (Common Pool Resources) are resources which are possessed by all people, regardless of income or class. A unique characteristic of such resources is that use by one person makes use by another person difficult. Examples of CPRs include forests, rivers and oceans.

"When CPRs are entrusted to the market, they deteriorate and lose their value," explained Professor Yabuta while pointing out that public policy fulfills a vital role in environmental protection. "Public policy fixes market error through the strength of community or the effect of sharing. In addition to public action through government laws and regulations, activities on the regional level are also important." In this way, the professor emphasized that the formation of regional networks is important for the management and operation of CPRs.

For example, assume that Island A has a booming tourism industry. Island A is experiencing marked environmental destruction due to tourism. In response, the island imposes entry restrictions and levies an entry tax. This is a popular form of public policy. However, Professor Yabuta pointed out that there will be a backlash towards restrictions and taxes due to economic losses by travel agencies and local citizens involved in the tourism industry.

Environmental protection at World Heritage Sites

To continue, Professor Yabuta began a discussion of environmental protection at UNESCO World Heritage Sites, places which are intricately linked to the environment. "To give a specific example in Japan, destruction of nature due to illegal dumping of trash has become a problem at Yakushima Island," he said. "Local citizens have begun to call for restrictions."

Actually, there are endless examples of environmental destruction caused by tourists. Natural heritage sites are particularly susceptible to entry by people. At the Galapagos Islands, a Natural World Heritage Site, there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of species. This example shows how the environment is directly affected by an increased number of tourists.

At this point in the lecture, Professor Yabuta referred to the optimal form of resource management for CPRs. "In the case of CPRs, one person benefitting from the resources makes it difficult for another person to enjoy use of the resources. The trade-off in this relationship is always incurred by nature."

Carrying capacity

The professor then introduced carrying capacity, a concept which he prioritizes. Carrying capacity refers to sustainable human activities conducted in a stable ecosystem without damaging the environment. It also refers to limits for the amount of pollutants which are released. The concept is applied when human beings use resources such as forests and land.

To end the lecture, Professor Yabuta emphasized the need to deepen consciousness towards environmental protection. "Firstly, it is necessary to understand the idea of carrying capacity while utilizing the power of the environment and the appeal of tourism. Marketing can be performed after such understanding has been achieved."

(Student Reporter: Akiho Suzuki, 2nd year student, Faculty of Law)