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2023: A Year of Growth & Impact for Naturescapes


Naturescapes has had a busy year, full of projects and partnerships around the globe, including 12 projects, thousands of people engaged, and helping to guide investment of over $45+ million to support sustainable tourism efforts.

In Tanzania and Uganda, Naturescapes was engaged by the European Union’s 'Africa Rise' program to develop plans for the investment of over €40 million in sustainable tourism across the two countries. Initiatives included a grants program for greening tourism businesses with sustainable technology and skills, promoting greater community engagement and benefits from tourism, support to community conservancies and sustainable tourism certification programs.

Uganda and Tanzania ecotourism

In Albania, Naturescapes has developed a tourism master plan for one of the newest national parks in the world, the Vjosa Wild River National Park. This protected area includes the Vjosa river network from the Greek border to the Adriatic Sea. During 2023 we engaged with local stakeholders to define what tourism activities can occur in the park and the border valley region as well as tourism revenue models to sustain the park long-term. The project is supported by IUCN, Patagonia, and the Albanian National Park Service (NAPA). 

Vjosa Wild River National Park

In 2022, Naturescapes developed business plans for three community conservancies in Uganda with support from the Biodiversity for Resilience Program (run by RTI International). In 2023, we worked with the conservancies to implement components of their plans, including the development of community tourism experiences, travel philanthropy programs, and supporting private tourism investments

Uganda ecotourism

Naturescapes partnered with Conservation Capital during 2023 on a number of conservation area business planning initiatives. Naturescapes role was focused on developing the tourism elements of business plans in Brazil, Kenya, and Nepal with a focus on increasing tourism revenue and opportunity within and around the target protected areas. 

Nepal roadless tourism

In collaboration with the US Forest Service, Naturescapes developed eco-tourism standards and guidelines for the Ugandan National Forest Authority (NFA). A number of NFA forests already host tourism activities, such as accommodations and chimp trekking, but there were no standard operating procedures relating to tourism for the organization. The guidelines and standards document provides a ‘playbook’ for NFA to develop and manage tourism responsibly. 

eco-tourism standards and guidelines

In Saudi Arabia, Naturescapes collaborated with local partners to perform a community social economic analysis and a way forward for tourism development in and around several World Heritage Sites. This effort focused on understanding community dynamics and aspirations in the region as well as the potential for tourism that would support the needs and interests of the local community. 

Ecotourism Saudi Arabia

In the Congo Basin, Naturescapes was engaged by the USAID FABS program (Forestry and Biodiversity Support) to look at the tourism potential of protected areas in five countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Gabon. We initially screened 160 protected areas to assess their tourism potential, narrowing this list to 25 priority parks. The priority parks are now being analyzed in more depth to understand their short- and medium-term tourism needs and opportunities for potential public and private investment.

Mountain Gorilla Congo Basin

Naturescapes has just completed the first year of work with UPLIFT North Carolina, a 3-year initiative supported by the America Rescue Plan Act. UPLIFT NC is collaborating with counties in rural North Carolina to provide professional development and training resources in order to develop and grow tourism in these communities. To learn more about the work UPLIFT NC is doing, please visit this article here.

Rural North Carolina

Naturescapes looks forward to continuing our work on these projects and others in 2024, fostering the collaborations and partnerships that are central to our work.

For updates on the work that Naturescapes is doing, please follow us in Linked In.

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