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Tropical Nature Tourism: How Can Wastewater Management Be Improved?

Social-ecological research and a new working group at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) in cooperation with the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Bremen are being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with nearly 2 million euros.

The problem of wastewater disposal in tropical coastal areas is the main point of focus of the five-year research project “Transdisciplinary Science for Sustainable Tourism” (TransTourism). Said areas are especially attractive for the booming nature tourism industry and are developing quickly. Insufficiently cleaned wastewater from tourist facilities is entering the sea, which can have consequences for the coastal ecosystems, human health and the local tourism industry. The communities must therefore act but what needs to be done? What are the best ways of finding out how the situation can be improved?

Research Includes Local Experts

Project leader Dr. Marie Fujitani, a social scientist at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) and at the University of Bremen, wants to support tourism communities in Tanzania, Indonesia and Costa Rica in improving their wastewater management. In order to find balanced ideas for solving the problem, she is including different interest groups, such as hotel, restaurant and shop owners, travel agencies, political decision makers and environmental organizations. “This will allow for a comprehensive picture of the wastewater pollution caused by tourism to be developed and for disposal solutions to be compiled”, she says. The project is comprised of sub studies that integrate natural and social sciences in order for the connection between services of the ecosystems, tourism, health and human wellbeing to be identified. “We will not only take different marine ecosystems into consideration during the decision-making process but also the various priorities of community members and tourists”, according to Fujitani.

The Aim: A more Environmentally Friendly and Socially Acceptable Tourism

“Our research group ‘Deliberation, Valuation and Sustainability’ investigates decision-supporting processes for the management of shared natural resources. Our focus is placed on how nature tourism can be made more sustainable”, states Fujitani. “We research how influences from specific indicators and information sources and various perceptions of the value of the environment can form our decisions in socially, ecologically and economically sustainable ways.” The transdisciplinary research project is already including various interest groups from the fields of science and the community in tropical ZMT-partner countries in the preparation of the research questions. Dr. Marie Fujitani will construct a new early-career working group at the ZMT for the studies. Three doctoral students and one postdoc will support her with her work, as will researchers from various natural science working groups at the ZMT.

Further information:


Dr. Marie Fujitani
WG Deliberation, Valuation and Sustainability
Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT)
Phone: +49 421 23800126
Email: marie.fujitaniprotect me ?!leibniz-zmtprotect me ?!.de