Sustaining marine wildlife tourism through linking Limits of Acceptable Change and zoning in the Wildlife Tourism Model
Marine wildlife tourism can benefit both conservation and communities when managed effectively. The Wildlife Tourism Model (WTM) is a framework used to assess sustainability. This paper illustrates how two aspects of the model, the Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) and zoning can be linked to improve management direction. Four of the nine steps of the LAC process were applied to identify sustainability concerns about Scuba diving in five Azorean islands and to propose standards of acceptable limits. Qualitative and quantitative survey data were used as well as descriptive indicators. Stakeholder interviews identified main concerns (step 1). Case study islands were described according to the Ecotourism Opportunity Spectrum (step 2) and indicators were selected (step 3). Indicators were measured with the help of gap analysis based on a diver survey (step 4). The islands demonstrated differences in access, infrastructure, diving attractions, clientele and satisfaction levels suggesting two zone types. Results show that perceived and descriptive indicators are valuable input variables for the LAC process and LAC can be related to zoning as suggested by the WTM.