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Create an Ecotourism Plan

Students will identify a threatened area and conduct research to learn what it used to be like, what it's like now and why it changed. They will come up with an ecotourism plan that will encourage people to visit the area and show respect for the land.

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, brainstorm a definition for the word ecotourism. Then invite a volunteer to look up and read aloud the definitions of conserve (to protect something from harm) and preserve (to make sure something lasts). Discuss how each of these actions is connected to ecotourism.
  2. Point out that people's actions have changed landscapes all over the world. And as the land has changed, so have the ecosystems found there. Some species have thrived. But others have become endangered or extinct.
  3. Have students identify an area that is classified as highly threatened. Instruct them to conduct research to learn more about it. What is the area like now? What was it like before people changed it?
  4. Give students time to create an ecotourism plan for the area. 

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to present their plans to the class. Challenge them to explain how their plan could both conserve and preserve the species that live there.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:     

Grades 3-4:
As a class, select one threatened ecosystem. If possible, identify a threatened ecosystem close to where you live.  Have students conduct research to learn what the area used to be like and what it's like today. Find out what caused it to change. Give students time to draw before and after pictures of the ecosystem. Then brainstorm ideas about how people visiting the area should behave to show respect for the land. Create a list of guidelines for visitors to follow.

Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Have each group select one threatened ecosystem. Review the selections to ensure that there are no repeats. Have groups conduct research to learn what the area used to be like, what it's like today and what caused it to change. Challenge them to identify area plant and animal species that have become endangered or extinct. Then instruct groups to create a list of behavioral guidelines for visitors to the area to follow. Have each group create a brochure about the guidelines that could be handed out to area visitors.

Grades 7-8: 
Divide the class into pairs. Have partners select one threatened ecosystem. Review the selections to ensure that there are no repeats. Have students conduct research to learn what the area used to be like, what it's like today and what caused it to change. Challenge them to identify area plant and animal species that have become endangered or extinct. Then have partners brainstorm ideas for an ecotourism operation in the area. Tell them to outline the operation's boundaries on a map and draw a picture of a tent visitors could stay in. Finally, have partners write a journal, from a guest's perspective, describing what it was like to spend three days at the ecotourism camp.

Grades 9-10:
Divide the class into pairs. Have partners select one threatened ecosystem. Review the selections to ensure that there are no repeats. Have students conduct research to learn what the area used to be like, what it's like today and what caused it to change. Instruct them to compile a list of area plant and animal species that have become endangered or extinct. Then have partners brainstorm ideas for an ecotourism operation in the area. Tell them to outline the operation's boundaries on a map. Instruct partners to then create an ad campaign that would attract tourists to the area.