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Users' Manual on the Biodiversity and Tourism Development Guidelines

CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development


International guidelines for activities related to sustainable tourism development in vulnerable terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems and habitats of major importance for biological diversity and protected areas, including fragile riparian and mountain ecosystems

A. Scope

B. The policy-making, development planning and management process

  1. Baseline information
  2. Vision and goals
  3. Objectives
  4. Legislation and control measures
  5. Impact assessment
  6. Impact management and mitigation
  7. Decision-making
  8. Implementation
  9. Monitoring and reporting
  10. Adaptive management

C. Notification process and information requirements

D. Education, capacity-building and awareness-raising

1.Baseline information

12. Baseline information is necessary to enable informed decisions to be taken on any issue. A minimum of baseline information is needed to enable impact assessment and decision-making and it is recommended that its compilation follow the ecosystem approach.

13. For tourism and biodiversity, the baseline information should include information, as appropriate, on:

  1. Current economic, social and environmental conditions at national and local level, including current and planned tourism development and activities and their overall positive and negative impacts, as well as development and activities in other sectors;
  2. Structure and trends within the tourism sector, tourism policy and tourism markets and trends, at national, regional and international level, including information based on market research as necessary;
  3. Environmental and biodiversity resources and processes, including any special features and sites of particular importance and protected areas, and identifying those resources that may be off bounds to development due to their particular fragility and those resources identified by existing analysis of threats;
  4. Culturally sensitive areas;
  5. Benefits from, and costs of, tourism to indigenous and local communities;
  6. Information on damage done to the environment in the past;
  7. National biodiversity strategies, action plans and reports and other sectoral plans and policies relevant for tourism development and biodiversity;
  8. National, subnational and local sustainable-development plans.

14. Baseline information should take into consideration all sources of knowledge. The adequacy of the baseline information available will need to be reviewed, and where necessary, further research and information-gathering can be undertaken to fill gaps that may be identified.

15. All stakeholders may contribute relevant information to this process, including indigenous and local communities. To this end, there is a need for capacity-building and training to assist stakeholders in documenting, accessing, analysing and interpreting baseline information.

16. Collation and synthesis of information provided will need to be undertaken by an appropriately qualified team, drawing on a range of expertise, including expertise in tourism and in biodiversity issues, and in traditional knowledge and innovation systems.

17. In order to ensure that all relevant information, its credibility and reliability, are considered, all stakeholders should be involved in review of the collated baseline information available, and in the synthesis of this information.

18. Baseline information should include maps, geographical information systems and other visual tools, including already identified zoning schemes.

19. The baseline information-gathering and review process should make full use of the clearing-house mechanism under the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as other relevant networks such as the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, World Heritage sites and Ramsar sites.

20. Requirements for site-specific information in relation to proposals for tourism development and activities at particular locations are set out in the notification process, and its compilation should follow the ecosystem approach. To enable impact assessment and decision making, the basic information required includes:

  1. Site-specific aspects:

    1. The various laws and regulations and plans that may be applicable to the specific site, including overviews of:

      1. Existing laws at local, subnational and national levels;
      2. Existing uses, customs and traditions;
      3. Relevant regional and international conventions or agreements and their status, and cross-boundary agreements or memoranda of understanding (MoUs);

    2. Identification of various stakeholders involved in or potentially affected by the proposed project - including stakeholders in governmental, non-governmental, and private sectors (particularly those from the tourism sector), and indigenous and local communities - along with details concerning their participation in and/or consultation on the proposed project during its design, planning, construction and operation;

  2. Ecological aspects:

    1. Detailed indication of the protected and biodiversity significant areas;
    2. Specifications on the ecosystems, habitats, species;
    3. Quantitative and qualitative information on the loss of habitats and species (main reasons, trends);
    4. Indexing of species;
    5. Identified threats;
    6. Existing zones, ecological zones and existing tourism zones within the ecological zones;
    7. Ecologically sensitive zones and zones where ecological disasters have or will most likely take place;

  3. Development aspects:

    1. Summary of the proposed project, why and by whom it is proposed, estimated outcomes and possible impacts (including impacts on the surrounding areas and transboundary impacts), and quantitative and qualitative data on these aspects;
    2. Description of the stages of development and the various structures and stakeholders that may be involved at each stage;
    3. Description of current land-uses, infrastructures, tourism facilities and services and their interaction with proposed operations.


  1. (1)For the purposes of the present Guidelines "indigenous and local communities" means "indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity"
  2. (2) Monitoring at World Heritage sites should be designed to also incorporate the World Heritage criteria upon which the site was inscribed. The monitoring system should be designed to contribute to the World Heritage periodic reporting structure, aimed at gathering information on the state of conservation of the site