Venezuela

Environment:

Venezuela is in northern South America, between Colombia and Guyana, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Angel Falls in the Guiana Highlands (the higher elevations of the Guiana Shield) in Venezuela is the world’s highest waterfall. Environmental issues include sewage pollution of Lago de Valencia, the third largest lake in Venezuela, oil and urban pollution of Lago de Maracaibo, deforestation, soil degradation, urban and industrial pollution, especially along the Caribbean coast, and threats to the rainforest ecosystem from irresponsible mining operations.

Venezuela is a party to the Association of Caribbean States, Convention Establishing The Sustainable Tourism Zone Of The Caribbean, signed on Margarita Island, December 2001. The IVth IUCN World Parks Congress was held in the capital city of Caracas, in 1992. ParksWatch maintains summary data on threats facing protected areas in Venezuela. (See Wikipedia List of national parks of Venezuela.) The international NGO Audubon, dedicated to the conservation of birds and consequently the promotion of bird watching tourism, maintains a branch in Venezuela, Sociedad Conservacionista Audubon de Venezuela. The “eco alliance”, Ecoalianza, has been working with ecotourism for more than a decade, including organizing the major adventure travel fair in Venezuela, the annual Expoecoturismo. There are a number of French companies operating in Venezuelan ecotourism, including Aura Marcucci Eco Expediciones and Venezuela Eco Travel.

Biosphere reserves:

  • Alto Orinoco-Casiquiare 1993

IUCN members:

Culture:

Venezuela was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Colombia and Ecuador). For most of the first half of the 20th century, Venezuela was ruled by generally benevolent military strongmen, who promoted the oil industry and allowed for some social reforms. Democratically elected governments have held sway since 1959. Current concerns include: an embattled president, a divided military, drug-related conflicts along the Colombian border, increasing internal drug consumption, overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.

Angel-Eco Tours is an operator working with the indigenous Pemón communities in Venezuela’s Canaima National Park. (See Wikipedia Indigenous peoples in Venezuela.) The Venezuelan environmental NGO Tropical Andes (Andes Tropicales) works with a number of community tourism development programs, including 11 “mucuposadas” or guest houses in the highlands of the state of Mérida in northwestern Venezuela. The Venezuelan NGO Fundación Proyecto Paria resulted from an outgrowth of community tourism projects. Ecoposadas del Mar, in Playa Medina, Playa Puipuy – in Paria, Sucre, are some examples of the results of long term community based tourism development in Venezuela. The Peace Villages Foundation, Aldeas De Paz, organizes grassroots volunteer experiences in Venezuela, particularly gap year English teaching.

World heritage:

  • Coro and its Port (1993)
  • Canaima National Park (1994)
  • Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas (2000)

ICCROM members:

References:

  • Mount Roraima in South America, Venezuela: world tourism destination nature by RDM Silva, J Cruz & V Py-Daniel, 2011
  • Venezuela’s Gran Sabana by Dominic Hamilton, 1996
  • Community perceptions and attitudes toward tourism:“Los Aleros” Merida, Venezuela by DAM Dagert, 1993