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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

C. Notification process and information requirements

83. Proposals for tourism development and activities at particular locations in relation to biodiversity are to be submitted through the notification process. As such, this process provides the link between proposers of tourism activities and development, and the management process steps outlined above. In particular, the notification process makes specific links to the steps in the management process for impact assessment and decision-making and should take into account local, regional and national impacts. Proposers of tourism projects, including government agencies, should provide full and timely advance notice to all stakeholders who may be affected, including indigenous and local communities, of proposed developments.

84. Information to be provided as part of the notification could include:

  1. Scale and types of tourism development or activities proposed, including a summary of the proposed project, why and by whom it is proposed, estimated outcomes and possible impacts, and a description of the stages of development and the various structures and stakeholders that may be involved at each stage;
  2. Analysis of market for proposed tourism development or activities, based on market conditions and trends;
  3. Geographical description including recreation opportunity zones, outlining tourist activities and infrastructure development, and location of the site of tourism development or activities, the identity and any special features of the surrounding environments and biodiversity;
  4. Nature and extent of human-resource requirements and plans for their procurement;
  5. Identification of various stakeholders involved in or potentially affected by the proposed project - including stakeholders in governmental, non-governmental, and private sectors, 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;
  6. The perceived roles of local stakeholders in the proposed development;
  7. The various laws and regulations that may be applicable to the specific site, including overviews of existing laws at local, subnational and national levels, of existing uses and customs, of relevant regional and international conventions or agreements and their status, and cross-boundary agreements or memoranda or understanding and any proposed legislation;
  8. The proximity of the site to human settlements and communities, sites used by people from those settlements and communities as part of their livelihoods and traditional activities, and heritage, cultural or sacred sites;
  9. Any flora, fauna and ecosystems that could be affected by the tourism development or activities, including keystone, rare, endangered or endemic species;
  10. Ecological aspects of the site and its surroundings, including indication of any protected areas; specifications on the ecosystems, habitats, and species; quantitative and qualitative information on the loss of habitats and species (main reasons, trends), and indexing of species;
  11. Training and supervision of personnel carrying out the tourism development or activities;
  12. Likelihood of impacts beyond the immediate area of the tourism development or activities, including transboundary impacts and effects on migratory species;
  13. A description of current environmental and socio-economic conditions;
  14. Expected changes to environmental and socio-economic conditions as a result of the tourism development or activities;
  15. Proposed management measures to avoid or minimize adverse impacts from the tourism development or activities, including verification of their functioning;
  16. Proposed measures for mitigation, decommissioning and compensation in the event of problems arising with the tourism development or activities;
  17. Proposed measures to maximize the local benefits of the tourism development or activities on surrounding human settlements and communities, biodiversity and ecosystems, which may include, but are not limited to:

    1. Using local products and skills;
    2. Employment;
    3. Restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems;

  18. Relevant information from any previous tourism development or activities in the region, and information on possible cumulative effects;
  19. Relevant information from any previous tourism development or activities by the proposer.

85. Categories of responses that Governments may wish to consider making in response to notification of proposals for, and requests for permission to undertake, tourism development, include, inter alia:

  1. Approval without conditions;
  2. Approval with conditions;
  3. Request for further information;
  4. Deferral pending further baseline research by other agencies;
  5. Refusal of the proposal.


  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

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme