Networks and Institutions

There are a diversity of public sector and not-for-profit organisations that provide information and technical support on NBT. 45 This section provides an overview of notable institutions and networks that support knowledge development, capacity building and training and awareness raising in the sector. Links to their websites and some of their resources are also provided here.


American Trails

American Trails is a non-profit organisation that advances the development of diverse, high quality trails and greenways to benefit people and communities. Their website provides comprehensive online sources for planning, building, designing, funding, managing, enhancing, and supporting trails, greenways, and blueways. They have a learning centre with training events and a webinar series, and also a resource library and organise events for members.


Asian Ecotourism Network

This association aims to provide networking opportunities to organisations in Asia, and they host an ecotourism standard .


Association of Ecotourism in Romania

This association is a partnership for nature conservation and tourism development among tourism associations, NGOs, nature conservation projects and travel agencies. The association has activities in promotion and marketing, public awareness, ecotourism certification, strategies and product development. They share examples of interpretation materials , tourist maps and visitor centres for protected areas and also have a certification system .


Centre for Ecotourism and Sustainable Development

The CESD is a non-profit research organization dedicated to the improvement of ecotourism as an instrument of biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation.


Center for Protected Area Management

The CPAM at Colorado State University contributes to the conservation, planning, and management of the world’s protected areas and the landscapes and seascapes that connect them through capacity building, applied research, and technical collaboration with the organizations that help manage them and the communities whose well-being depends on them. CPAM’s website includes a number of training materials and management tools , including adaptation of the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum for use in Latin America.


Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio)

ICMBio falls under the Ministry of Environment in Brazil, and conducts a range of work on NBT. In 2018, ICMBio managed 12.4 million visitors in 334 protected areas. The agency develop initiatives including community based tourism, large concession and long distance trails, as well as, measuring the economic impacts of visitation in protected areas. The institute has done considerable work on Assessing economic impacts of visitor spending in protected areas of Brazil .


Children and Nature Network

A global movement that aims to increase equitable access to nature so that children – and natural places – can thrive.​ ​They invest in leadership and communities by sharing evidence-based resources, scaling innovative solutions and driving policy change.


Conservation International (CI)

CI is a not-for-profit organisation that works to protect nature for the benefit of all, through s​​cience, policy and partnerships with countries, communities and companies. They collaborated with George Washington University on a Ecotourism Learning Program , and have supported the development of resources such as A practical guide to good practice: Managing environmental impacts in the marine recreation sector and A practical guide to good practice for tropical forest-based tours .


Conservation Travel

Conservation Travel provides a resource hub for conservation travel, and aims to educate the travel industry and travellers to promote better, innovative practices supporting conservation goals globally. Their platform allows people to submit tools , case studies , research and reports .


Conservation Finance Alliance (CFA)

The CFA is an alliance of conservation finance experts, practitioners and organisations. The Alliance produces resources including those that relate to NBT, such as Finance tools for coral reef conservation: A Guide .


Department of Conservation , New Zealand

New Zealand’s Department of Conservation is the government agency responsible for conserving the country’s natural and historic heritage. The Department’s website hosts a series of useful procedures and practical Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to support NBT in protected areas. These include on radio protocols , interpretation , and track construction and maintenance .



DestiMED is a project that brings together 13 protected areas to collectively manage and promote ecotourism in the Mediterranean basin. The project aims to help to create standards and monitoring methods, designs ecotourism packages, develop guidelines for sustainable tourism management. It also plans to develop a network for public-private network and a destination management organization.


Ecotourism Resource Centre

An online resource for people interested in ecotourism and NBT. It includes information on codes of conduct and guidelines , certification, business toolkits , articles and projects and tourism planning resources .


Ecotourism Australia

Ecotourism Australia is a not for profit organisation focused on encouraging environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible tourism. They design and deliver certification programs for tourism products and destinations, organise conferences and master classes. Their Ecotourism resource hub includes business tools, destination and ecotourism plans, guidance on protected area management, indigenous tourism and visitor accessibility. They have a linkage with the booking platform Bookdifferent .


European Ecotourism Network ( EEN)

This is a network of relevant stakeholders aiming to ensure that ecotourism services in Europe contribute to conservation and sustainability. EEN supports the development and implementation of the European Ecotourism Labelling Standard (EETLS) - an initiative that ensures baseline standards of quality in ecotourism. The EETLS has also been officially recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). DestiNet to Tourism 2030 also acts as a knowledge networking portal for sustainable and responsible tourism, with subscription option. Topics include natural heritage and biodiversity, destination management, value chain management and fair trade, cultural heritage, climate change, knowledge/networking/training/education, certification and marketing. The site includes a searchable database of tourism stakeholders promoting sustainable tourism, as well as a Global Certification Quickfinder that helps tourism businesses, destinations and tour operators to find those certificates which are available to them in their country. This is linked to a Green Travel Map , with an associated App , showing where certifications are based across the world. In Europe, the initiative aims to have all tourism in protected areas certified by 2030 , as a goal under SDGs 12, 13, 14 and 15.


Figure 11: DestiNet’s Tourism 2030 Green Travel App 46

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Forum Advocating Cultural and Eco-Tourism (FACET)

FACET is a Western Australian network and information resource for people interested in cultural, nature and ecotourism. The Forum promotes events, a conference and awards through its website.


Geological Society of Australia

This Society is a membership organisation, that provides information on geotourism, including best practices in geotrails in Australia, and a Geoheritage toolkit .


Global Ecotourism Network (GEN)

GEN is a global group of ecotourism pioneers and practitioners, that previously formed the Advisory Board of the International Ecotourism Society (TIES). Through their website and social media, they share information about ecotourism, initiatives, and relevant news.


Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance (GSTA)

GSTA is a partnership of leading organizations in the sustainable tourism field working together with USAID Missions to apply a holistic and market-driven approach to sustainable tourism development. The alliance has a series of online training resources on sustainable tourism.


Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)

The GSTC establishes and manages global sustainable standards, known as the GSTC Criteria. There are two sets:  Destination criteria   for public policy-makers and destination managers, and  Industry criteria   for hotels and tour operators. The criteria are guiding principles and minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources, while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation. Their criteria have been used by a number of certification bodies to certify NBT enterprises and destinations (including protected areas) across the world. GSTC provides members with access to training programs and events.


Griffith Institute for Tourism

This institute is based at Griffith University in Australia, and their strategic research areas include sustainable tourism, and visitor experience design and evaluation. Their website shares research reports , such as Tourism planning in natural World Heritage Sites .


IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA)’s Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS Group)

The TAPAS Group is a volunteer network that aims to provide a platform for protected area practitioners to share expertise and knowledge, enhance sustainability awareness, facilitate collaboration and dialogue and foster innovative solutions to support sustainable tourism in protected area systems. Globally TAPAS Group has over 600 volunteer members, and the group coordinates the development of knowledge tools (including Best Practice Guidelines and tourism concession guidelines), webinars, events, and shares best practices through its website , social media and online resources directory .


The International Ecotourism Society

TIES is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting ecotourism. TIES’ global network of ecotourism professionals. TIES currently has members in more than 190 countries and territories, representing various professional fields and industry segments including: academics, consultants, conservation professionals and organizations, governments, architects, tour operators, lodge owners and managers, general development experts, and ecotourists. It provides education and outreach programs for its members, offering a Certificate in Sustainable Tourism Management and an EcoTourism Master Class series.


Interagency Visitor Use Management Council

The council includes representatives of six USA government agencies, which aims to provide guidance on visitor use management policies and to develop legally defensible and effective interagency implementation tools for visitor use management. The council produces a number of visitor management frameworks and guidebooks , including Visitor use management framework , the Visitor capacity guideline, and other technical resources. The council has conducted webinars with the IUCN WCPA TAPAS Group to provide an overview of the Visitor use management framework and its application.


Journal of Ecotourism

An international journal focussing specifically on ecotourism and nature-based tourism, which seeks to advance the field by examining social, economic and ecological aspects at different scales, and in different regions of the world. The journal publishes peer-reviewed conceptual, theoretical and empirical research, especially where it contributes to planning development, management and good practices.


Linking Tourism & Conservation

LT&C is a membership organisation that facilitates an educational global network of tourism and conservation ambassadors. Their website includes case studies of projects and initiatives from across the world that illustrate examples of financial or political support, or education activities.


Luke Natural Resources Institute Finland

This institute promotes bioeconomy and sustainable use of natural resources. Their work on NBT has addressed forest tourism, and the recreational use of nature.


Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland

Metsähallitus is the protected area authority in Finland. Its website includes information about their visitor numbers and NBT’s economic impacts. They also provide resources to support NBT such as Principles of sustainable tourism for protected areas and Sustainable tourism in protected areas: Guide for tourism companies


Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO)

NACSO is aims to provide quality services to rural communities seeking to manage and utilise their natural resources in a sustainable manner. This includes training support on nature-based tourism, and their website hosts resources on joint-venture tourism development and product development.


The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

TNC is a global conservation not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Their work includes NBT initiatives, including on coral reefs and identifying economic opportunities for communities and conservation .


The National Association for Interpretation ( NAI)

The NAI is a n ot-for-profit professional organization dedicated to advancing the profession of heritage interpretation, currently serving about 7,000 members in the United States, Canada, and over thirty other countries Individual members include people working at parks, museums, nature centers, zoos, botanical gardens, aquariums, historical and cultural sites, commercial tour companies, and theme parks. 


National Geographic

National Geographic is a membership organisation that provides resources and links for travel professionals, travellers and destination residents. In particular, they house information relating to geotourism, which has similar characteristics to sustainable NBT.


National Parks Service, USA

The National Parks Service is part of the US Department of the Interior, and responsible for managing national parks. In addition to providing information for visitors on the national parks, the service also provides information for educators , and a series of natural resource publications and calculate visitor spending effects reports.


One Planet Sustainable Tourism Program

The overall objective of the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Program (STP) is to enhance the sustainable development impacts of the tourism sector by 2030, by developing, promoting and scaling up sustainable consumption and production practices that boost the efficient use of natural resources while producing less waste and addressing the challenges of climate change and biodiversity. The STP programme maps initiatives and resources shared by its members through the One Planet Clearinghouse online platform in their online database, including those on nature-based tourism. This provides a visible snapshot of the tools and solutions that can offer countries in their shift to sustainable consumption and production. They also host training webinars , including on NBT topics such as What is overtourism in protected areas and what can we do about it? (in partnership with the IUCN WCPA TAPAS Group, Ecotourismo Genuino and PUP Consortium), and on World Heritage and tourism in a changing climate (with UNEP, UNESCO and the Union of Concerned Scientists).


Pacific Asia Tourism Association (PATA)

PATA provides a series of case studies on environmental and social performance of nature-based tourism at an activity, operator and destination level in the Asia Pacific region.

This online resource provides online coverage of conscious living and travel. The sites hosts information and news relating to NBT.



Planeterra is a non-profit organization established by the adventure travel company G Adventures . It invests in social enterprise, healthcare, conservation and emergency response projects. Their projects aim to meet needs of travelers, including relating to meals and food, tours and experiences, handicrafts, accommodation and transportation.


Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance is a not-for-profit organization that works at the intersection of business, agriculture and forests. They work with farmers and forest communities to improve livelihoods, protect biodiversity and adapt to climate change. Tourism activities include certification, training courses , guidelines for marine based tours and certification for ecotourism .


Relief International

Relief International is a non-profit organisation that works with fragile countries and communities suffering rom recurrent man-made or natural crises that impede human development. One of their areas of support is in economic development , and enterprise development, including ecotourism projects including in natural areas of India and Bangladesh.


Responsible Tourism Institute

An association, and international non-profit NGO, supporting tourism actors. They organise events and offer training , and undertake research and project development (including on NBT). They use their Biosphere certification program to measure sustainability of the sustainable development goals.


Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals

The Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals aims to promote and support outdoor recreation professionals in research, planning, management and policy development in the USA. They have a website and resources on outdoor recreation, and offer webinars to members and non-members.



TOFTigers aims t o advance the welfare of wild animals threatened with extinction through the loss or degradation of their wild habitats, and to promote the protection, expansion and improvement of those habitats. Their website hosts a number of practical resources for accommodation providers, destination management companies and travel companies including publications and presentations. Their tools include an online action plan for sustainability of NBT, a Good Wildlife Travel Guide to India and Nepal. The organization has commissioned research on the value of wildlife tourism around tiger reserves. in order to inform policy and research.


The Travel Foundation

This not-for-profit organization aims to work in partnership with businesses and governments to generate greater benefits for people and the environment. Their resources hub includes information on wildlife and the environment , including whale shark guide training .


Wildlife Conservation Unit (WildCru)

WildCru forms part of the University of Oxford, and is a university-based conservation research unit. The unit has conducted research on wildlife tourism, in particular relating to the lack of ability of visitors to accurately judge the animal welfare abuses of wildlife attractions.


Wildlife Conservation Society

The Wildlife Conservation Society is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to conserve the world’s largest wild places in 16 priority regions across the world that house more than 50% of the world’s biodiversity. WCS has worked in 245 protected areas, and has a Conservation Enterprise Development Program. For example, WCS has a co-management agreement with the government of Mozambique for Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique, which manages and coordinates tourism concession contracts and the development and promotion of tourism.


Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network

WFEN helps to conserve threatened wildlife and contribute to the economic vitality of rural communities. They have established a series of standards that form the basis for certification programs focused on NBT, including gorilla friendly and sea turtle friendly tourism. They also produce resources on green marketing trends and conservation marketing .


Wildlife Tourism Australia

Wildlife Tourism Australia is a not for profit incorporated association representing tourist operations, educators, researchers, businesses and societies that support sustainable wildlife tourism in Australia. Its website provides information on tours and accommodation, news and events, issues, and resources.


World Animal Protection

Is a not-for-profit organisation that lobbies for animal welfare, including in NBT.


World Cetacean Alliance

The Alliance shares Global best practices for responsible whale and dolphin watching , and has certification programs for Whale Heritage Sites and whale watching .


World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

The WWF Network focuses on six key goals related to Climate & Energy, Food, Forests, Freshwater, Oceans, and Wildlife. WWF has invested USD 11.5 billion in more than 13,000 conservation projects. In June 2017 the implementation of the EU co-financed project Central Europe Eco-Tourism: tools for nature protection (CEETO) began. The objective of the project is to establish an innovative governance system for sustainable tourism based on a participatory approach that aims to improve the capacity of protected area managers for the sustainable management and use of natural values.