Worth More Alive Than Dead

Community education centre set up by WWF Philippines for the Turtle Islands community and ... rel=
Community education centre set up by WWF Philippines for the Turtle Islands community and conservation project Toganak Island, Philippines.
© WWF-Canon / Soh Koon CHNG

Helping turtles, Helping people

A recent WWF report, "Money Talks - Economic Aspects of Marine Turtle Use and Conservation" has revealed that in some countries industries based on live turtles, such as sensitively planned and operated beach and dive tourism activities, can generate as much as three times more income for local communities than using slaughtered turtles for their eggs, shells and meat.
Many of the world's most important turtle habitats are in developing countries with marginal economies, where local economies and livelihoods are dependent on unsustainable levels of local resource use. This provides a golden opportunity to help local communities and marine turtles at the same time.

Unsustainable levels of use have caused worldwide declines in the numbers of marine turtles. High levels of turtle mortality jeopardize potential future income for these communities.

Research indicates that in most cases the income from non-lethal uses often grows on an annual basis, while income from consumptive uses has fallen over time as turtle populations decline.

Local & national economies benefiting from turtle-based tourism
Over-exploitation of turtles and their eggs is often a result of a lack of knowledge and/or concern about the impact of such use, coupled with a lack of suitable alternatives. This provides a compelling case for countries to investigate the options of economies based on live turtles, and to invest resources into their protection as part of a comprehensive poverty alleviation and sustainable development strategy.

WWF is working with coastal communities across the region to conserve turtles in a manner which benefits both turtles and people. This work includes bolstering local economies and investigating new livelihood opportunities for local peoples through a suite of options including sustainable ecotourism operations.

It has been estimated that turtle-based tourism activities in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, generated more than US$6.5 million through tourism services, souvenir sales and national park fees, in 2002 alone.

From Money Talks, Troeng + Drews, WWF, 2004.

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