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The west coast of India’s Konkan region has long been a popular destination for travellers. This region, which is sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, is home to beaches, waterfalls, temples, forts, mangroves, seafood, and other attractions that provide visitors with a chance to experience the region’s unique ecosystems.
Numerous locally based sustainable ecotourism organisations have emerged that recognise the value of the environment in the area and have begun to promote the Konkan region’s beauty while keeping environmental repercussions in mind.
One such agency is “Konkani Ranmanus” which engages with regional projects in the hillside and coastal villages. The biggest problem with commercial tourism is that it forces locals to alter their lifestyles in order to provide metropolitan facilities to visitors. According to Prasad Gawade, the founder of Konkani Ranmanus, this leads to the erasure of local culture and sustainable practices as well as the loss of livelihoods.
Here, local ingredients are used to prepare distinctive dishes including fish curry, ragi roti, and kokum butter. However, traditional tourism places no importance on regional specialities made using products you may find on your own property, he added. In order for tourism to be sustainable, the way of life of the locals must be the key differentiator, according to Konkani Ranmanus. This calls for travellers to be prepared to interact with locals by eating and living as they do, wandering alongside farmers and fishermen to experience nature, and occasionally even pitching in in the fields.
The entire paradigm, housing, food, and travel are all sustainable. The majority of tourists travel is done on foot, and they stay in earthen homestays in the villages and consume foods that are cultivated nearby. Tourists are advised against bringing automobiles, and any plastic they do bring must return with them to the city. Around 50 tourists visit Konkani Ranmanus per season; this equates to 140–150 visitors each year (including volunteers).
In addition, this community also takes steps to focus on different aspects of environmental rehabilitation one such good example of it is the “Velas turtle festival”, which began in 2007 with the goal of protecting olive ridley turtles and has transformed into a prosperous tourist concept that raises money for conservation. Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra, an NGO that oversaw turtle conservation work in Velas, claimed that they had anticipated hosting 50 visitors for the festival’s inaugural year, but more than 150 people actually came up.
All of the visitors had to sleep in the yards because the local residents’ homes were too small to accommodate them. All the objections about the sleeping circumstances, however, vanished after witnessing the turtles the following day, according to Vishwas Katdare of Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra. 4,000–6,000 tourists visit Velas annually, spread out over two months. 300 visitors can stay in homestays at once during the Velas Turtle Festival. Under Katdare’s guidance, the locals of Velas chose against establishing hotels and resorts in the community and now provide homestays to tourists.
What research says?
According to research on the Velas model and its contrast to the traditional tourism model in Murud, the absence of competition among the homestays is one of its most notable features. Both cities have less than ten thousand residents and are well-liked tourist attractions without any industries. While Velas has established a nonprofit organisation to control ecotourism, Murud’s tourism is not governed by any entity. In spite of these villages’ apparent similarities, the study points out that they are very different in terms of how they exploit natural resources and how their cultures have evolved.
The Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation of Maharashtra (Mangrove Foundation), an independent organisation under Maharashtra’s forest department, additionally promotes ecotourism in the Konkan region. The Mangrove Foundation improves livelihoods, shifts tourists away from traditional tourism to mangrove tourism, and raises knowledge of the value of mangroves in nine communities in the districts of Raigad, Ratnagiri, and Sindhudurg.
The low-carbon lifestyle of Sushegaad
Tourists can enjoy “sushegaad” with Konkani Ranmanus. It loosely translates as “finding luxury in the simple life and being content with nature’s bounty,” according to Konkani culture.
“Sustainable practises are deeply ingrained in our society. To allow them to enjoy a variety of Konkani experiences, such as eating crabs and fish, soft bamboo shoots, and wild mushrooms, we cap the number of visitors we allow at a time. More than 12 individuals would need us to expend resources to offer local delicacies, hence we are unable to accommodate larger groups.
“The idea of the sushegaad life does not entail accumulating riches and resources, nor does it entail leading a 24/7 active lifestyle, which often entails excessive resource use. Agriculture in this area is less laborious and non-expansive. Wetland farming and subsistence farming are frequently conducted on the available land because the terrain is hilly and heavily forested, he said. In this area, “raapan fishing” is a traditional form of community-based fishing. “In a wooden boat, a group of 20 to 50 villagers explores the water near the shore. To safeguard the smaller fish, we don’t go very far beneath the surface of the ocean. This prevents us from overfishing.
One of the projects supported by the Mangrove Foundation is Kalinje Ecotourism, which provides homestays and mangrove safaris where visitors can experience local culture. Locally produced water, buttermilk, or the kokum-based beverage solkadhi are served with regional specialities such as fried oyster and crab, bhakris (flatbread typically made of millets), and amboli (rice and lentil pancakes).
When coupled with thorough carbon editing and assessment over time, ethical ecotourism can help reduce carbon emissions. “It is vital to develop tourism from both a supply and demand viewpoint in order to reduce tourism emissions. Serving domestic travellers will minimise the emissions associated with travel.
Ecotourism raises awareness of environmental protection
Konkani homes generally feature an outhouse called a mangar, which can be furnished with simple amenities for visitors and is a Konkani name for an outhouse where items or utilities are housed. The mangar model has a number of benefits. In addition to teaching tourists important life skills connected to farming, farmers get to share their way of life with them and discover a more lucrative market for their produce by selling it to visitors.
The goal of visiting Konkani Ranmanus for tourists is to be close to nature. They lead them around forest trails and show them my farm’s trees and wild delicacies.
Lastly, we can say that Konkan is one stop destination for nature lovers as well as one of the best initiatives taken by the Maharashtra Mangrove Foundation, this lays a good example for others to take more initiatives in this field.