Kapawi Lodge: A Model of Local-participation & sustainable Ecotourism in Ecuador

By Carey Cloyd, Ashley Dean



I.          Introduction


This study grew out of a desire to learn what constitutes a successful ecotourist project, and how Kapawi Lodge -- an ecotourist project in Ecuador based on the partnership between an indigenous group and an outside ecotourism company -- measures up to these standards.  Defining the success of an ecotourist project includes such factors as economic standing, degree of environmental impact, degree of cultural impact, the well-being of the local people, environmental conservation, and cultural conservation.  In this study, success is measured by economic, ecological and cultural sustainability.  In our effort to determine the success of the Kapawi Lodge, we discovered that measuring the success of an ecotourist project involves evaluating the level of local involvement in the creation, planning and development of the project and following a set of ecotourism principles.  Once principles are developed, indicators of and standards for compliance with the principle can be chosen that are relevant to a given site. Our study utilizes a set of ecotourist principles proposed by George Wallace in "Toward a

Principled Evaluation of Ecotourism Ventures."


Our intention is to took at the background development of Kapawi Lodge to determine the level of local participation in the creation, planning and development of the project.  Next, we will assess, through a set of indicators, whether Kapawi succeeds in meeting Wallace's four principles.  We hypothesize that in. the ecotourism industry, success cannot be defined solely through classic economic models, but must meet standards of ecological and cultural sustainability in order to ensure the long-term success of the project.  These standards are best met through active local community participation in the planning, development, management and monitoring stages of a project.  Additionally, a set of ethical guidelines or principles of ecotounism should dictate the intention, design and implementation of any project involving the participation of the local community, We believe Kapawi lodge proves to be a successful model of local-participation and sustainable ecotounism through its initial and continued involvement of the local community and high measure of ethical standards.


II.  What is Ecotourism?


Ecotourism is a relatively new concept.  In the following section, we will discuss various definitions of this idea.  In 1983 Hector Ceballos-Lascurain coined the term ecotourism," placing emphasis on its ethical values and principles.  The Ecotourism Society's defines "ecotounism" as "responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people".  Ecotourism is often categorized as a form of sustainable development, in that it favors supply (resource constraints and the needs of local people) over demand (McCool, 1994 and Wight, 1992).  Ecotourism is not ecological unless it improves protected area management (public or private as long as they protect natural processes) and provides economic benefits to local people asked to forego resource utilization (Wallace 1993b and Norris, 1992).  Wallace defines it as:


travel to relatively undisturbed natural areas for study, enjoyment or volunteer assistance ... concerns itself with flora, fauna, geology, and ecosystems of an area as well as the people (caretakers) who live nearby, their needs, their culture and their relationship to the land.  It views natural areas both as "home to all of us" in a global sense ("eco" meaning home) but "home to nearby residents" specifically.  It is envisioned as a toot for both conservation and sustainable development, especially in areas where local people are asked to forgo the consumptive use of resources for other uses. (Wallace, 3, 98)


The IUCN (The World Conservation Union) defines it as follows:


Ecotourism is environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features-both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor negative impact and provides for beneficially active socioeconomic involvement of local populations. (CL, 8, 98)


Ecotourism fits in larger concept of sustainable tourism, and implies conservation, education, responsibility, and the active community participation of people who inhabit or own a natural attraction.  It must directly produce better protection, and its underlying premise is that the enjoyment of future generations should not be affected negatively by that of today's visitors (TEP, 20, 96).

Frequently, the term "ecotourism" is used interchangeably with the others such as "sustainable tourism...... nature-based tourism," and "adventure tourism." Because these terms are often confused or used in place of one another, it is helpful to differentiate among them in order to understand what "ecotourism" entails exactly.  Sustainable tourism is "tourism that is developed and managed in such a way that all tourism activity in some way focuses on a heritage resource (be it natural or cultural), and can continue indefinitely" (TEP, 20, 96).  It denotes all types of tourism that contribute to sustainable development, whether based on natural or human-made resources (CL, 8, 98).  Nature-based tourism refers to any tourism activity practiced in a natural setting that is relatively undeveloped.  These activities may or may not be environmentally friendly (e.g. skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing) (CL, 8, 98).  The following statement by Ziffer clarifies the differences between ecotourism and nature-based tourism:

'Ecotourism' has eluded firm definition because it ... ambitiously attempts to describe an activity, set forth a philosophy and espouse a model of development... 'Nature tourism' is grounded in the behavior and motivation of the individual (tourist) whereas 'ecotourism' is a more comprehensive concept which is based on a planned approach by a host country or region designed to achieve societal objectives beyond (but including) those of the individual' (TEP, 22, 96).


Finally, adventure tourism refers to physically exerting sporting activities conducted in a natural setting (CL, 8, 98).  It may or may not be environmentally responsible, and the level of gratification is measured in terms of thrill-seeking or physical achievement, whereas gratification in ecotounism is measured in terms of education and/or appreciation (TEP, 28, 96), The clarification of these terms should aid in the understanding of the motivations behind and principles of ecotourism.


III.                 How can you ensure and measure the success of ecotourism?


Currently, there is no objective,, independent system for rating or monitoring the ecotourism industry, so we have come up with our own method for evaluating an ecotourist project.  To measure the success of an ecotourist project, two factors must be taken into account: involving locals in the creation, planning and development of the project, and following a set of ecotounism principles.  Local involvement can be measured by looking at the level of local involvement at these three different stages.  The project's regulations, guidelines and codes should embody these ecotounism principles.  Regulations are "...developed by managers at each attraction site -- usually public or private protected areas or reserves -- to fit specific environmental and social conditions that are in accord with management objectives and desired conditions" (Wallace, 2, 1998).  Guidelines or codes are suggestions for behaviors that address general biophysical, cultural and social impacts that can be caused by tourism (ex.  Ecotounism Society Guidelines and United Nations Environmental Programme, LTNEP) (Blangy and Wood, 1993).  Finally, principles lie behind the regulations and guidelines, and provide the over-arching ethical frame that is applied to a project.  In this study we focus on four principles proposed by George Wallace, measuring the success of the Kapawi project according to indicators and assessment procedures.  The four principles are as follows:

1.       Entails a type of use that minimizes negative impacts to the environment and to local people.

2.       Increases the awareness and understanding of an area's natural and cultural systems and the

subsequent involvement of visitors in issues affecting those systems.

3.             Maximizes the early and long-term participation of local people in the decision-making process that determines the kind and amount of tourism that should occur

4.                Directs economic and other benefits to local people that complement rather than overwhelm or replace traditional practices (farming, fishing, social systems).


We will consider the application of these principles within the Kapawi project further on in the study.


How to use principles to measure success

The success of the project can be measured according to these principles by utilizing indicators and assessment procedures.  Once principles are developed, indicators of and standards for compliance with the principle can be chosen that are relevant to a given site.  These are directed primarily at national or regional tourism planning (Wallace, 2, 1998).  Often regulations do not exist for important principles or are not effective.  Furthermore, these indicators become guides for tourism planning and management, which leads to sustainable development.  Assessment procedures for evaluating ecotourism include strategies, methods and techniques that are ranked and placed on a continuum from "unsatisfactory" to "very satisfactory." Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC), Visitor Impact Management (VIM) and Visitor Experience and Resource Protection Process (VF-RP) are some different methods for evaluating whether future desired conditions will be achieved (Wallace, 3, 1998).  Assessment procedures include statistical data based on surveys and interviews with visitors, operators, employees, and local people, on-site observations, and questionnaires.

                Using Wallace's four basic principles of ecotourism and corresponding indicators, this study tries to determine whether the Kapawi ecotourist project in Ecuador meets these classified measures of success.  We examine the level of local participation, planning and management at Kapawi to Judge whether a correlation exists between the level of local participation and project sustainability.  We chose the indicators we felt were most relevant to meeting the specified principles and for which we had sufficient data.  The data on the Kapawi project comes from a number of different sources ranging from previous literature on the projects, to interviews, to tourist guides and brochures.



IV. Background on the partnership between the Achuar and Canodros




Achuar is the name of one of the four groups of the linguistic family Jivaro, located within the southeastern region of Ecuador and Peru.  Born in the forest, they are the last indigenous group in the Ecuadorian rain forest to remain isolated for centuries until the peaceful entrance of missionaries in the late 1960s.  Achuar territory is considered terra incognita and the Achuar people were once feared for their bellicose

nature.  Fortunately, the remoteness of their land and their warlike reputation buffered them the exploitation of rubber, Nvhich converted hundreds of Indians of other cultures into slaves during the 19th century (Gen, 12, 96).  A war between Ecuador and Peru in 1941 divided the group into two nationalities.  In 1979, the CREA (Center for Economic Re-conversion on the Southern Provinces) requested that the Military Dictatorship emit Decree #3134 defining the Amazon Basin as a "broad wasted surface" with the intention of sending colonists in to "develop" the area.  The FISHA (Federation of Shuar and Achuar People), following the suggestions of evangelical Christian missionaries, fought for many years against this decree until the government voided this law and recognized the Shuar and Achuar as legitimate owners of the land, granting them the surface rights to their territory (Ach).

                The Achuar project roads as part of development, and now live in peace under the influence of the missionaries.  They practice "pioneering slash-and-bum cultivation," a system in which new small plots, "chacras" are established in areas of virgin forest, generally near a river, and used for about 3 years (Gen, I 1, 96).  These "chacras" produce diverse crops for food, as well as products that have medicinal, narcotic and other purposes.  Additionally, the Achuar gain their subsistence from hunting, fishing, and gathering in the rain forest (Gen, 10,96).  Finally, the Achuar practice cattle ranching as an economic alternative, but have discovered that it is expensive and unsustainable.  The majority of the Achuar's territory is lateritic, meaning that the soil lacks nutrients, lasting only 2-3 years before there is the need to shift to a new plot.  Cattle ranching involves lots of work clearing plots, sowing grass, and moving cattle.  Additionally, the territory can only be accessed by air, so one has to hire a small aircraft to merchandise meat -- not a profitable arrangement (Rod, 2, 98).

Although their traditions are still intact, the Achuar are experiencing the reality of integration.  They know that change is inevitable, and they want to control it, particularly the invasion of oil.  The Ecuadorian government adjudicates large areas of rain forest to 'I companies for prospecting.  In granting the Achuar surface rights to their territory, the Ecuadorian government has retained mineral rights.  Previously untouched by logging or oil companies, the Achuar territory now faces the threat of exploration plans from AR-0 and an Argentinean oil company.



To counter the threats of oil and to truly protect their area, the Achuar realized they needed to create their own indigenous federation and separate from their previous ties with the Shuar and Quichua federations.  They established FFNAE, the Federation of Indigenous Ecuadorian Achuar Nationalities, in 199 1, with a majority of Achuar belonging at Its inception (Gen, 12, 96).  They divided into five groups, each with its own center, holding a total of ' )500 Achuar in an area of very low density (0.42 people per sq km.), and represented 42 Achuar communities (Gen, 12, 96).  This move enabled them to set their own rules and create a master plan for their territory.  FINAE has unanimously taken a stand to prevent oil exploration in their area and are strategizing with global leaders and NGOs to find a viable solution that would give ARCO and the Ecuadorian government incentives to define their territory as an international ecological preserve.  Within this master plan, ecotourism was recognized as a possible item for empowerment, and the Achuar opportunistically found an innovative gentleman who wished to form this partnership.



Daniel Koupermann is a well-established adventure-travel tour operator with a background in Shuar Territory.  He is the operations manager of Ecuador's Canodros tour company, a well-known tour operator in the Galapagos Islands.  In the early 1990s, he came up with the idea of creating a well-done ecotourist lodge that would benefit the local people economically, giving them more choices regarding the future of their territory and culture (BT, 99).  After searching he saw the Achuar territory as the area that could do it; other lodges were easy to get to by roads and accessible rivers.  Daniel wanted an area completely remote and not under threat of oil exploration (BT, 99).  He picked the site after a year-long search. and chose it for its isolation (accessible only by small aircraft)-presence of pristine forest, willingness of the Achuar and the openness of the indigenous organization.  FINAE (Ach).  It is located on the Pastaza River. on the most remote area of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin.  100 miles east of the Andes (Cano, 1, 96).

When he sought to develop jungle tours and a research center in Kapawi in 1993he approached leaders of the Achuar, who had invited him to present his proposal.  Before deciding on the project, he talked to community leaders and visited a number of communities between 1993-94 (BT, 99).  He asked the Achuar (FINAE) what they wanted, and learned that the Achuar desired -purposeful tourists', who would come down and end up becoming allies in their struggle over land and human rights -- see, learn, understand, contribute and come back.  Additionally, they asked for the technical assistance and funding to create the intended lodge.


Goal of partnership

The goal of the resulting contract was to commence a trend in ecotounism-- a fair and equal partnership between an indigenous group and outside private capital.  The Achuar wanted to work together with a private operation to create a series of programs focused on the sustainable development of environmentally-friendly, culturally-sensitive, economic alternatives for the Achuar community.  The partnership was based on the philosophy that "-any project with the Achuar must build on a structure that allows a long-term autonomous management" (Rod, 3, 98).  As a private investor, Canodros sought to recover the investment and make a profit during the period of investment (Rod, 2, 98).  The contract was made possible under a treaty signed by FINAE, the community of Kapawi , and the private enterprise Canodros, S.A. (Ramiro, 1, 98).


V. Contract and Construction

Canodros proposed to the Achuar an investment of $2 million in their territory, without buying their land, in order to build the best eco-lodge in Ecuador, at the Kapawi lagoon, on the northern shore of the Pastaza river, an important tributary of the Amazon river.  The aim of their proposal was to build and operate an ecotourism structure and to create a marketing network in the following 15 years.  After this period Canodros will withdraw all the investment and the Achuar will manage the entire operation.

Meanwhile Canodros will train the Aphuar in various activities within this period including marketing.  The majority of the employees must be Achuar, and Canodros will pay a monthly rent of $2,000 for the use of the territory, with an annual increment of 7%, which totals $603, 096 directly received through rent money (Rod, 4, 98).  Every tourist %"'I I pay a $1 0 entrance fee to the Achuar organization; with an estimate of 1,000 tourists per year that totals $150,000 by 2011 also directly handed over.  Canodros and the indigenous organization will work together with different NGO's in order to improve the health and education systems while searching for other means of economic alternatives.  Additionally, they will build structures in the traditional Achuar tradition, without nails, so that when things rotted, they would return wholly to the earth (Wad, NYT, 97)

The Achuar organization's responding proposal was to provide wood, palm leaves and other materials for the building, to be allowed access to the existing airstrips, to restrict hunting to the areas outside of the site designated for ecotounism, and to share knowledge about their culture and environment (Rod, 4, 98).  Ultimately, the project was approved by FINAE, whose president issued the following statement:

This alternative project shows not only that the exploitation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources can be a source of income to our people, but that we, as an indigenous group, can find an original means of sustainable development suitable to our reality.  Santiago Kawarin, President of FFNAE ( Gen, 3, 96)


In the Achuar tradition, "Kapawi conceives the exchange of goods (monetary or not) only as a reciprocal transaction," so the project was suitable to them (Rod, 4, 98).

Preliminary studies conducted extensive research on the local flora and fauna before the facility opened, and a system of river trips was developed to prevent the of overuse of trails (Mark, 3, 98).  It was noted that 300 tree species and 500 species of birds can be found in one hectare of land (Gen, 9, 96) Construction began in '94, and by mid  '95 Daniel asked a group of  'purposeful tourists' to come down and help organize support for the project.  Among the first group were two exceptional people, Lynne and Bill Twist, who became the founders of non-profit NGO, The Pachamama Alliance, which established a partnership with the Achuar (BT, 99).  Construction was completed in '96 and began operation in April of that year.


VI.  Wallace's Four Principles of Ecotourism

Principle 1: Entails a type of use that minimizes negative impacts to the environment and to local people (Wallace, 3, 98)

There is a consensus that ecotourism should minimize impacts to wildlife, soil, vegetation, water and air quality as well as respect for cultural traditions and activities of local people.  Efforts should be made to be less consumptive, travel lighter, produce less waste and be conscious of one's effect on the environment and lives of those nearby (Wallace, 3, 98).  Facilities and services may facilitate the encounter with the intrinsic resource, but never become attractions in their own right (TEP, 28, 96).  The ecotourist accepts the environment as it is, neither expecting it to change or to be modified for their convenience (TEP, 28, 98).

There are almost a dozen indicators that impact monitoring which fall under this principle (Wallace, 4, 98).  In terms of group size, Kapawi accommodates up to 40 visitors, 70 including employees (Gen, 21, 96).  This number is no larger than a medium sized Achuar village (Rod, 5, 98).  Currently, the lodge is running at half capacity.  Since Kapawi is located in the most remote area of the Ecuadorian Amazon Basin, it is accessible by small plane, then by motorized dugout canoes, an hour and a half trip down the Capahauri River (Gen, 22, 96).  The canoes run on four-stroke outboard motors, low impact technology (Rod, 5, 98).  Their methods of waste disposal include trash recycling, sorted into two classes -- biodegradable (food, paper), and non-biodegradable (metal, plastic, glass, etc.). Trash is flown out of Kapawi every week by plane.  The lodge operates according to "leave no trace" procedures, as it is powered by solar energy, 72 solar panels of 75 watts per cover, providing 80% of the lodge's energy needs (Gen, 24, 96).  Solar showers provide 5 gallons of hot water per person each day, and all soaps used in the lodge are biodegradable, which also provides shampoo and soap dispensers.

Other factors include the type and amount of training given to guides.  At Kapawi, there is an English teaching program offered to every worker.  Ramiro Vargas, an Achuar guide, traveled to the United States to attend a language school.  When he returns, he will replace a non-Achuar naturalist guide; the idea is to continue program until the Achuar are properly trained to run lodge and the marketing structure (Rod, 5, 98).  The type of information given visitors before and during field visits is another factor.  Visitors to Kapawi receive a general information packet that includes an ecological section on the tropical rain forest; a cultural section on the Achuar which expands on their history, architecture, vocabulary and their current traditions and cosmos; and a section on the lodge which includes sections on access, services, what to bring, suggestions, ecotourism in Kapawi, recommended reading, a check list and your personal data form before visiting (Gen, 96).  There is also a list of recommended readings on Ecuador, Amazonia, Anthropology and Wildlife.  Visitors are briefed at the lodge on Achuar customs and advised to respect indigenous traditions.  For example, charity is frowned upon.  "It destroys the indigenous gift economy to give a gift without expecting a favor in return", explains Koupermann (Mark, 4, 98).  You can exchange personal items such as flashlights, batteries, and so on for handicrafts if Achuar are interested in doing so.  You should not make promises you do not intend to keep (e.g. taking and sending back photographs).  Finally, there is a well-endowed library open all day long with books on ecology, Achuar culture, shamanism, as well as magazines and paperbacks.

Another factor is the level of cultural sensitivity of interpretive materials and of activities pursued.  Of the 21 pictures in the Kapawi brochure, only 3 depict the Achuar exclusively (KAP brochure).  Visits to communities generally do not involve much interaction between the locals and visitors (BT, 99).  There are opportunities for overnight stays in the communities.  Visitors go to "traditional" Achuar towns, such as Wayusentsa, but they do not go and work with women in the "chacras" or take ayahuasca.  Architectural style and types of building materials and decor is a factor too.  The Kapawi Lodge was built in accordance to the Achuar concept of architecture with wood and palm leaves, thatched roofed houses, and aligned alongside a small lagoon (Rod, 5, 98).  Not a single metal nail was used.  Additionally, the structure was successful for interpretation; it does not isolate visitors from the environment with its open frame and mosquito screens.  The final factor deal with measures of biophysical change, such as site spreading, vegetative composition, erosion, water quality, wildlife behavior.  There is no artificial outside lighting to disturb behavioral patterns in nocturnal animals and the individual cottages are built on stilts around the rim of the lagoon to reduce impacts on the vegetative composition.


Principle 2: Increases the awareness and understanding of an area's natural and cultural systems and the subsequent involvement of visitors in issues affecting those systems (Wallace, 4, 98)

This principle emphasizes leaning about nature and other cultures.  Visitors should be able to experience truly representative and intact ecosystems and compare them with areas that have been disturbed (Ceballos-Lascurain, 88).  Next, they should be able to experience authentic two-way interaction with local residents.  Finally, awareness activities should focus on sustainable development or conservation and wild land protection issues in the host and home country (Dubov 9-'I, Wallace 91, C-L 88, Janzen 86).

Direct indicators include several different factors (Wallace, 4, 98).  One factor is guides and tour operators teaching about local traditions.  For example, before entering an Achuar community the tour guides inform the guests that the Achuar home has very strong sexual divisions -- women are not allowed in male area except to serve food and guests.  There is no open physical contact between men and women, and no male visitors are allowed into the female space.  You do not enter a home without an invitation.  If you are a man, you never look directly at an Achuar woman's face.  Nijiamanch, the manioc beer, is always offered, and refusing might be considered an insult.  If you do not like this drink, the guides advice you to at least pretend to drink it (Gen, 27, 96).  Also, visitors are advised to not take pictures.

Donations to local projects or NGOs are another factor.  Kapawi has a partnership with The Pachamama Alliance.  The current role of The Pachamama Alliance is to continue to bring down 'purposeful' tourists and enhance their role as partners with the Achuar.  Its primary role with the Achuar is to provide access to technical expertise and funding to support them with the design and implementation of a variety of projects that include supporting initiatives that strengthen their governing federation and its leadership.. and strengthening the Achuar's ability to defend their lands against outside encroachment among others (Rod, 3, 98).  Visitors are also encouraged to donate educational materials to the research center which will relay them to the school teachers (Gen, 27, 96).  Additionally, visitors encouraged to donate to FINAE and the research station.  Increased support for conservation/development projects and an increased level of commitment and activism is shown in medicinal assistance programs (which will work with traditional medicine, whenever possible), educational programs, and the establishment of an ecological reserve.

An indirect indicator is the educational and interpretive experiences for visitors (especially those that permit interaction with local people and their issues and that reveal how ecosystems function) (Wallace, 4, 98).  At Kapawi, this factor is seen in bird watching, visits to the Achuar communities, and typical Achuar meals that are offered in the communities.  You can also arrange overnight stays in the Achuar communities.  There are hikes in the rain forest, canoeing in the rivers and lakes, and a checklist of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish is provided.


Principle 3: Maximizes the early and long-term participation of local people in the decision-making process that determines the kind and amount of tourism that should occur (Wallace, 4,98)

This principle deals with the early establishment and continued functioning of committees, partnerships, and other mechanisms that provide local input to public (protected area managers, etc.) and private (outside concessionaires, conservation groups, etc.) interests that operate in the area.  Ideally, locals belong to these interest groups (Wallace, 4, 98).

There are four indicators for this particular principle (Wallace, 5, 98).  One factor that falls under this principle is the strength and duration of local advisory and planning (groups.  Kapawi actively participates in different organizational levels of the Achuar Federation.  It respects and encourages the political system adopted by the Achuar (Rod, 5, 98).  Additionally, as seen through the planning and development of Kapawi Lodge, there was a high level of local input and participation in the beginning stages of the project.  A second factor is the incorporation and implementation of local ideas in area management plans and tour activities.  Kapawi integrates individuals, communities, associations and the federation in decision making processes (Rod, 5, 98).  Most of the social problems are solved in open discussions with the community (Rod, 5, 98).  Additionally, the low level of community visitations by tourists, as desired by the locals, has been respected by Canodros in their activity planning.  The development of local ecotourism ventures and tour itinerants that conform to local needs and schedules is a third factor.  There are limitations on lise and access: hosts set limits on access to homelands and sacred rituals (spatial limitations); hosts establish preferred or permitted tourist activities (activity limitation); hosts indicate appropriate times for tourists access & use (temporal limitations); and hosts set limits on access to cultural knowledge and rituals (cultural limitations) (Zep, 2, 97).  At Kapawi, employees work on a 22 day cycle, and off for eight days to help with families and community needs.  In addition, they only fly guests in twice a week.  Finally, ecotourists do not participate in sacred rituals or community cultural traditions.  A fourth factor is the presence of staff delegated to community relations tasks.  Paul Malo, the on-sight manager at Kapawi, is in charge of day to day relations.  We see an opportunity for expansion in this area in order to incorporate a higher level of local needs assessments and cultural impact monitoring.


Principle 4: Directs economic and other benefits to local people that complement rather than overwhelm or replace traditional practices (farming, fishing, social systems) (Wallace, 5, 98).

                Ecotourism often depends on natural areas where resource protection requires low visitor density and small group size (operation of smaller scale, and more susceptible to changes in season, weather, access, economic and political events).  Therefore, operations yield irregular and modest returns when compared with mass tourism.  As such, ecotourism should only play a role of supplementing traditional form of income rather than encompass a community's entire economic base.  There is a need to diversify local economy and maintain local practices and activities, without preventing the desire for increases in income and standard of living. (Wallace, 5, 98).

This principle relates to a number of factors.  One of these factors is the increase or decrease in the diversity of economic activity (Wallace, 5, 98).  At Kapawi, ecotourism is a good alternative to a 'culture and cattle ranching, where soils are relatively infertile and cattle is expensive due to the transportation costs of flying meat out of the territory.  Through Kapawi Lodge employment and related activities, the have Achuar learned new skills and have an increased market for their handicrafts.  Another factor is the variety and value of items produced and purchased locally.  The Achuar sell handicrafts at a fixed price which is similar in each community.  These sales represent 2 1 % of an average family's income along the Pastaza river (Rod, 4, 98).  A third indicator looks at the services provided by concessionaires to the locals.  Environmental education programs about non-biodegradable goods, and programs to recycle batteries to keep kids from sucking on batteries are among the services provided by concessionaires to locals (Malo, Jan 98).  In addition to increases in educational and health structures.  A fourth factor looks at the number and level of local ecotour employees.  At Kapawi, the number of local ecotour employees amounts to 22 with a permanent salary, in accordance with Ecuadorian law (Rod, 4, 98).  While predominately in service positions right now, the Achuar employees are leaning how to eventually manage and market Kapawi Lodge.  Additionally, there are a few Achuar on staff who speak Spanish and can therefore serve as naturalist guides Women of neighboring communities can also participate by doing, laundry, and the community supplies food and materials to the project.  A final factor looks at the relative distribution of benefits among community members.  Sixteen Achuar communities now derive nearly half of their total income from employment in and business with Kapawi (Mark, 4, 98). 45% of the total income comes from employment (Rod, 4, 98).  Tips to guides are between $10-20 dollars, and. tips to the staff are equally divided among the group.  Finally, members of the community can equally share the infrastructure developments and educational and health programs supported by Kapawi Lodge.


VII.  Discussion: Success, Sustainability and Recommendations

In this paper, we set to prove three measures of successful ecotourism: economic, ecological and cultural sustainability.  In our hypothesis we determined that these standards of success are best met through the active participation of the local community in the planning, development, management and monitoring stages of a project.  The partnership developed between FINAF and Canodros demonstrates a model of local participation and initiative on the part of private capital to involve the local community in the planning and development of the project.  Through a well-thought out, agreed upon contract, the needs of both parties Were present and met.  As it is early in the project and Canodros still maintains control of the management and monitoring of the project, there is a lower level of local participation in this stage of the process.  However, Canodros, in accordance with measures dictated in the contract, is actively pursuing its obligation to pass on their management knowledge and training to the Achuar chosen to fulfill these positions.  Finally, we were unable to find sufficient data on specific monitoring techniques implemented to measure ecological and cultural impacts.  Therefore, we cannot fairly determine the level of local participation in this area.

In our hypothesis we also suggested that a set of ethical guidelines or principles of ecotourism should dictate the intention, design and implementation of any project involving the participation of the local community.  We proposed that meeting these defines would ultimately lead to the economic, ecological and cultural sustainable of the project (the factors by which we defined success).  Our detailed set of site-specific indicators for Kapawi shows that Kapawi has met, by our qualitative judgment, the principles laid out by Wallace.  However, the question of future sustainability remains in definite and difficult to determine at this moment.


Economic sustainability


Unfortunately, by the classic standards of economics, Kapawi currently falls to produce a profit for Canodros.  Kapawi is losing money requiring Canodros to continue to put money into the project each year.  However, the amount needed is dropping each year which is a positive sign of economic growth (BT, 99).  Additionally, ecotourism is a booming economy, so the potential for growth is quite high.  Nonetheless, it is difficult to ensure that in eleven years the Achuar will inherit an asset rather than a liability.

On the other hand, as we have tried to argue in this paper the view of sustainable success of the project goes beyond economic models.  Traditional economic models do not include the qualitative distinctions that are crucial to understanding the ecological, social and psychological dimensions of an economic activity (Rod, 4, 98).  The benefits of conservation, job opportunities, educational and health programs, and an increase of empowerment and well-being of the local communities are not factored into this cost/benefit analysis.  The managers of Canodros recognized this point when they agreed to creating Kapawi:

The first step toward a sustainable sense of success is taking pride in the value of our contributions to others rather than taking pride in the value of our possessions ... profit and wealth may help us to contribute, but they do not themselves constitute business success. (Rod, 4, 98)


Kapawi is a low-profit activity, but it fits within a sustainable framework agreed upon by all the members of the partnership.


Ecological sustainability

It is still too early to determine the ecological sustainability of Kapawi.  We have seen, though through the indicators measuring ecological impact, that Kapawi measures quite well in this area.  The low environmental impact lodge design and ecological programs seem to support a system of sustainability.  Impacts appear minimal and there is a concerted effort being made to increase environmental education and awareness both within the community and within the ecotourist.  Tourists are even encouraged to continue their participation in preserving the environment after they leave through donations and support of sustainable development projects.  Nonetheless, we believe there is room to increase local environmental education and increase monitoring efforts.  Finally, economic sustainability may ultimately determine ecological sustainability by providing an incentive for locals to preserve their environment for ecotourism.


Cultural sustainability


Our last measure of success, cultural sustainability, proves to be the hardest to measure.  While it appears that the local communities have been minimally impacted that is difficult to determine from an outsider's perspective.  We can see that steps have been taken to incorporate the needs of the community in the nature of the activities chosen and that there is minimal involvement of locals with tourists outside of the lodge.  The locals have set spatial, activity, temporal and cultural limitations on both the tourists and activities pursued by Canodros.  This is clearly important to maintaining a lifestyle consistent with the needs of the local people and empowering them in the decisions made by Canodros.

We believe there remains an increased role for someone on Canodros' staff at Kapawi to address community relations.  This person would be in charge of addressing local needs, problems, measuring cultural impacts and educating the community about the ecotourist project and environmental preservation (ex. what to do with non-biodegradable goods).  This could be accomplished through workshops set up to enhance local understanding of the ecotourism industry, the ecotourist, the community's role as stakeholders in the success and sustainability of the project, and the community's role as advocates for conservation.  Education can serve to empower the Achuar in both the local and political arena as well as increase support for the ecotourist project.

Next, it is difficult to determine what the effects of outside influences will ultimately have on a particular culture.  Outsiders can serve a positive role as mirrors for the Achuar, enabling them to identify how their own cultures and traditions are different and special.  This could lead to the revival and preservation of traditional cultural and religious values.  On the other hand, communities will be exposed to far greater material wealth, different values, and occasionally offensive guests with limited knowledge of local culture and customs.  There is a fine line drawn between ecotourism and ethnotourism which may indirectly treat locals as commodities or attractions.  Outside tour operators must be especially sensitive at addressing this area.  Canodros, through the level of decision-making they afford the locals and sensitivity of the entire operation, attempts to orchestrate cross-cultural Exchanges in an ethically sound manner.

Finally, when discussing cultural sustainability, it is important to address the issue of cultural authenticity.  Particularly when the Achuar start running the project entirely on their own, there will be a number of questions they will need to answer.  How far should they go to accommodate visitor needs and interests without compensating their own integrity?  Should they open their homes to visitors, share their knowledge of medicinal plants or invite visitors to share in sacred rituals?  Should villages continue to live in traditional huts or wear traditional dress in order to maintain the appearance of "authenticity" to please visitors?  While these will be difficult questions for the Achuar to answer, we must remember to give agency and credit to local decision making processes.  As Greenwood comments, 'all viable societies create traditions, accept elements from outside, invent rituals, and are constantly in the process of reinventing themselves, for both sacred and secular purposes' (TEP, 81, 96).  We leave you with the question if there is even any such thing as cultural sustainability.




Kapawi Lodge provides a good model of local-participation and sustainable ecotourism.  It demonstrates the complexity of this field and the many steps that need to be taken to create a sustainable lodge that truly accomplishes the goals behind ecotourism.  We have tried to present Kapawi as both a model of development and an embodiment of an ethical philosophy.  From the contract and construction to the management and monitoring of Kapawi Lodge we can trace the positive effects of a strong partnership between a local indigenous group and an outside private company.  We hope the use of principles provided a framework by which to judge the success of the project.  We believe Kapawi has made strong steps toward achieving the goals of  economic, ecological and cultural sustainability, but we can also that ultimately, only time can tell if Kapawi truly succeeds.  We are optimistic and hope that Kapawi Lodge will become a model for the future of ecotourism.




We footnoted our paper by the following format (Author, page, year)

-in cases where there were the same authors we used the title of the book -bibliography done in order of reference


McCool, S. 1994.  Linking Tourism, the Environment, and Concepts of

Sustainability: Setting the Stage.  In: Principled Evaluation of Ecotounism Ventures,

George Wallace, 1998, pl.


Wallace, George N. 1993b.  Wildlands and Ecotourism in Latin America:

Investing in Protected Areas.  Journal of Forestry: 91(2): 37-40


Ceballos-Lascurain, Hector.  Introduction.  In: Ecotourism: A Guide for Planners and Managers Vol 2. The Ecotourism Society.  North Bennington, Vermont. 1998


Ceballos-Lascurain.  Hector.  Tourism, ecotounism, and protected areas: the state of nature-based tourism around the world and guidelines for its development.  Gland; Cambridge: IUCN, 1996


Wallace, George N. Toward a Principled Evaluation of Ecotourism Ventures.  Colorado State University.  Fort Collins, Colorado. 1998


Blangy, S., and M.E. Wood. 1993.  Developing and implementing Ecotourism Guidelines for the Wildlands and Neighboring Communities.  In Ecotourism: A Guide for Planners and Managers, Kreg Lindberg and Donald E. Hawkins, eds., The Ecotourism Society, North Bennington, Vermont, pp. 32-55


General Information brochure on Kapawl.  Canodros and FFNA-E.  Quito, Ecuador, 1996. (Gen)


Rodriguez, Arnaldo and Cn-stina Santacruz.  Preliminary Results of the Master Plan.  Canodors.  Quito, Ecuador, 1996 (Ach)


Rodriguez, Arnaldo.  Kapawl, a model of sustainable development in Ecuadorian Amazonia with community-based participation and private investment.  Published in Cultural Survival.  Quito, Ecuador, 1998 (Rod)


Interview with Bill Twist, founder of The Pachamama Alliance, March 3, 1999 (BT)


Canodros.  Kapawl Eco-lodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon Basin. 9/5/96 Http:/'/Iforests.org/gophe,r/susforestlk-apawiec.txt. 1/29/99 (Cano)


Vargas, Ramiro.  Ramiro's Story. 1998.



Wade, Betsy.  Learning how to tread lightly.  Practical Traveler.  June 15, 1997.



Markets, Alex.  Guide to the guides: is ecotourism an oxymoron?  Audubon v I 00, n5 (Sept-Oct, 1998) (Mark)


Kapawi Ecological Reserve brochure.  Kapawi, Ecuador. 1996. (KAP)


Dubov, Gail. 1993.  Escaping to School in the Peruvian Rainforest.  Buzzwon-n: The Environmental Journal 5(2)


Zeppel, Heather.  Ecotourism and Indigenous Peoples.  Research Fellow in

Cultural Tourism, Charles Stuart University.  January 10, 1997.

Http://Iorenz.mur.csu.edu.au/ecotour/e,cowwwhz.htmi 2/16/99


Interview with Paul Malo, on-site manager at Kapawi.  January 13, 1999