Responsible Development: A Viable Solution
Combating informal economic activities presents a particularly difficult challenge, especially give the Boiling River area’s proximity to major population centers, high-poverty areas, and major roads and waterways (facilitating access into and out of the jungle).
We believe that responsible economic development and local empowerment are the key to protecting this jungle and combating informal economic activities. Ultimately, the solution lies in fostering economic enterprises that make the jungle more economically valuable than it would be as cropland or cattle pastures.
Some visitors to this site have expressed concern that tourism to the Boiling River also poses a threat to the area. At its worst, some say, uncontrolled and irresponsible tourism can be damaging both ecologically and in commercializing traditional cultures. Other individuals who oppose tourism in the area even go as far to say that even in the best circumstances, tourism will change the culture of the place.
Both points are valid, and the Boiling River Project and our collaborating institutions are working to provide the necessary information, education and training to promote responsible tourism that aims to respect and appreciate the local culture, as well as protect the jungle. You can find our recommendations on how you can minimize the risks of uncontrolled tourism in the area by clicking here.
It should also be noted that all anti-tourism opinions shared with our team have exclusively come from non-Amazonians (generally living in major cities of Europe or North America). In our time working around the Boiling River, the local Amazonians have been very eager to attract tourism. In 2015, a farmer who had just clear-cut a large swath of jungle told Andrés Ruzo, “Cutting the jungle is not ideal—but we need to make a living.” Ultimately, responsible tourism is an alternative to a much more damaging path: a clear-cut rainforest, drained of native wildlife.
The Boiling River Project seeks to support and respect the self-determination of the local Amazonians in their touristic efforts. We want to provide them with the best information available in order to truly empower them to make their own decisions for the future of their sacred river.