MWC Lebanon: eco-guide training program

1 April 2005

par Web Team

The MWC project is planning an eco-guide training program for May/June 2005 in collaboration with the MoE and the Hans Seidel foundation. It is aimed at training people in the local community to become guides in the protected areas. The objective is to provide motivated locals with the basic skills and knowledge an eco-guide should possess in order to maximize the experience of visitors in the nature reserves. In addition, it will ensure additional income to the local community. The training will be done in 7 sessions all on weekends along 11 training modules.

A thorough investigation of the situation of the eco-tourism sector in Aammiq Wetland, Tyre Coast Nature Reserve as well as other nature reserves in the country revealed the following issues to be addressed: (i) lack of qualified people in all areas surrounding the nature reserves to work as eco-guides, (ii) high proportion of youth in all areas surrounding the nature reserves that have no work opportunities either all year round or in the summer, (iii) demand by the eco-tour operators for qualified guides from the local communities and, (iv) need for school program by the nature reserves.

The proposed module will have substantial benefits on five fronts:

-  1. Certified eco-guides: income generation through flexible job opportunities in their village as certified nature reserve guides, assistants to eco-tour groups and student programs administrators at the nature reserves
-  2. Tour operators both eco-tourism and traditional: recruit qualified local eco-guides that can accompany them during their trips rather than having to train their own guides themselves
-  3. Natural sites: increase in visitor traffic and money generation as well as an increase in awareness among eco-guides themselves and the visitors they guide to safeguard the natural resources and practice environmentally friendly tourism
-  4. Visitors: professional guiding in terms of knowledge, safety and interest
-  5. Local community: greater economic activity due to increased visitor traffic to the area as well as a stronger sense of stewardship among the locals for the nature reserves in their communities

The topics presented will be: 1. Visitor handling; 2. Birds of Lebanon; 3. Flora of Lebanon, 4. First Aid; 5. Visitor safety; 6. Marine ecosystems; 7. Wetland ecosystems; 8. Forest ecosystems; 9. Developing school programs ; 10. Mammals of Lebanon and 11. Invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians.

An integral component of the proposed training module is to provide the participants with practical material to accompany their training courses. The ultimate output is a loose leaf binder manual which can be easily modified and updated in the future either by the eco-guides themselves or upon the participation in advanced courses in eco-guiding.

The eco-guide training session has been planned in a manner that will promote the entire concept of eco-tourism first hand to the local communities surrounding the Aammiq Wetland and thereby enhancing their acceptance and stewardship of the conservation efforts taking place in the Wetland. Furthermore, by providing all the logistics for the training (food and accommodations) in house from the local communities will create a significant economic boost to the Aammiq Village, thereby, allowing them to experience first hand, the positive implications of conservation activities.

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