Universities Create Ecotourism Routes in Santa Catarina, Brazil

May 31, 2024
Ecoturism in Brazil. Photo: Agência Brasil

Nestled in the northern coast of Santa Catarina, the Babitonga Bay, where several rivers like the Palmital meet the sea, is renowned as a sanctuary for endangered species such as the Franciscana dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei) and the black drum bird (Pogonias cromis). Recognizing the ecotourism potential of this area, researchers from two universities in Santa Catarina have crafted tourism routes focusing on wildlife observation.

These routes are part of the project “Caminhos do Mar – Nature Tourism for the Conservation of Babitonga Bay,” led by the University of the Region of Joinville (Univille) and the Federal Institute of Santa Catarina in São Francisco do Sul. The project aims to explore the region in a safe and sustainable manner.

Dolphins and Birds

In addition to the Franciscana dolphin and the black drum bird, visitors can also spot species such as the Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis), which is vulnerable to extinction, and birds like the scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber), red knot (Calidris canutus), and marsh antwren (Stymphalornis acutirostris). The idea is to leverage tourism as an ally in the conservation of the region’s fauna and flora.

“Tourism can either be a villain or an ally in the process of preserving biodiversity. If conducted responsibly and sustainably, respecting life and the species that inhabit the area, it becomes an ally, helping to value these species and biodiversity. Tourists, by getting closer to nature, come to appreciate it more and continue to defend it when they return home,” says biologist Jana Bumbeer from the Boticário Foundation, which supports the project.

Nature as a Financial Asset

Santa Catarina

By using nature as a financial asset, it is possible to demonstrate to the local community that conservation can also be a source of income.

“People are not just part of the solution for nature; people are nature and must be part of the solution. Involving various sectors, tourism operators, the local community, the scientific community, and tourists in biodiversity conservation is essential. This region is rich, not just for the south of the country, but for Brazil as a whole,” Bumbeer adds.

Babitonga Bay is conveniently close to a major urban center – Joinville, which has an airport connected to significant aviation hubs like Congonhas, Guarulhos, and Viracopos.

As the primary estuary of Santa Catarina, Babitonga Bay houses 75% of the state’s mangroves, supporting a variety of species targeted by recreational, artisanal, and industrial fishing, and is also home to mollusk cultivation areas.

A study by the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) revealed that Babitonga’s mangroves lost 37% of their vegetation cover between 1985 and 2019, highlighting the urgent need for sustainable practices.

Embracing Sustainable Travel and Ecotourism

Santa Catarina
Ecoturism in Brazil. Photo: Agência Brasil

The efforts of these universities underscore the significance of sustainable travel and ecotourism in Brazil. By promoting responsible tourism, they aim to foster a deeper appreciation for the natural world among visitors and locals alike, ultimately contributing to the preservation and revitalization of vital ecosystems such as Babitonga Bay.

Tatiana Cesso

As a journalist, I've made it my mission to explore and share stories that inspire, inform, and entertain. You may have stumbled upon my work in esteemed publications such as InStyle, Marie Claire, Bazaar, L’Officiel, and Vogue, among others. Having called the U.S. home since 2010, I've lived in Chicago, LA, and currently, Miami. But my heart always beats to the rhythm of Brazil. It's where I was born and raised, and my love for its culture, people, and energy knows no bounds. To share this passion, I've founded Brazilcore, a platform aimed at bridging the gap between Brazil and English speakers worldwide.

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