The State and Community-Based Projects of Environmental Conservation in Promoting Mountain Ecotourism in Lesotho

The State and Community-Based Projects of Environmental Conservation in Promoting Mountain Ecotourism in Lesotho

Tšepiso Augustinus Rantšo (Department of Development Studies, National University of Lesotho, Lesotho) and Khotso Ketsi (Department of Historical Studies, National University of Lesotho, Lesotho)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1302-6.ch014

Abstract

Lesotho is divided into four ecological zones, the Highlands, the Foot Hills, the Senqu River Valley, and the Lowlands. Many people in these geographic areas are faced with poverty, unemployment, and other social problems. As a result, they exploit the natural environment for making a living. To conserve the endangered natural species and promote mountain ecotourism, the Lesotho Government established national parks and nature reserves. These state-owned national parks followed a top-down approach where the locals were not involved in the decision-making. Thus, these were subjected to vandalism from communities in the adjacent areas. Some locals have established botanical gardens to conserve environmental resources, thus promoting mountain ecotourism. The state, NGOs, and private entrepreneurs support community-based projects of environmental conservation and mountain ecotourism. While some of the destinations have resulted in establishment of communication networks, many places in the Highlands remain inaccessible and thus negatively impact mountain ecotourism.
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Objectives, Approach And Methodology

The present study aims at assessing the contribution of mountain eco-tourism to development and livelihood-making in Lesotho. Virtually all eco-tourism activities in Lesotho are taking place in the mountains which cover about two thirds of the country’s natural landscape. Since the advent of the Lesotho Highlands Water Projects (LHWP) in 1986, mountain eco-tourism has taken mainly the form of national parks, and nature reserves, in combination with cultural heritage preservation. The study looks at the prospects and challenges of the mountain eco-tourism, drawing illustrations from selected mountain eco-tourism projects. These include the Sehlaba-Thebe National Park, Tšehlanyane National Park and the Katse Botanical Garden, which are state owned, on the one hand. On the other hand, the study examines, a small but growing number of community-based mountain eco-tourism projects. Examples are drawn from the Semonkong Botanical Garden, Ha Baroana Heritage Site and Botanical Garden, and the Kome Cultural Village/Caves. The study notes in particular the different kinds of challenges facing these mountain tourism attractions in general and public participation in particular.

Specifically, the study seeks to answer the following research questions:

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