Eco Tours in Malaysia - Sustainable Tourism & Conservation Laws

Situated in Southeast Asia, Malaysia covers an area of 127,350 square miles, and is broken up into two distinct areas: Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo. Only recently has the Malaysian government begun to take advanced measures toward the conservation of the lush environment under its care, though it has come to these measures much faster than other countries in the area. These laws are generally preventative measures, but they are also active attempts to preserve the cultural heritage of the area. This is based around an understanding throughout Malaysian culture that the cultural and environmental heritage of the country is intrinsically linked. For tourists, there are a few laws to keep in mind to ensure an enjoyable trip.

The Malaysian Wildlife Law sets the bar for the regulation of all interactions with wildlife in the country of Malaysia. The law accomplishes a number of things. First, the law sets forth a distinct set of seasons for hunting. Second, the law carries with it distinct language that bans the commercialization of the wildlife of Malaysia. This is a very important distinction to understand, since it brings a number of ecotourism values into question. On one hand, the commercialization of wildlife and wild habitat is one of the main driving forces behind a successful ecotourism strategy. On the other hand, Malaysia is home to such rare and endangered species that it becomes necessary to protect them from commercialization. The law also empowers deputies to enforce its provisions, giving them the ability to arrest those that trespass against it.

The Aboriginal Peoples Act is another piece of legislation that has a definite impact on ecotourism. It basically takes the international concept of ecotourism and nationalizes it. One of the major international distinctions of ecotourism-- set forth by the International Ecotourism Society-- is that it has to "improve the well-being of local people." The Aboriginal Peoples Act helps to add a second level of intent to that international definition. The law creates a set of rules and regulations for how development should be approached when it could come into conflict with local native people. The most basic provision of the law is that it helps to ensure that the native people of the country will not be displaced from their cultural lands by outside interests. This is one of the most broadly celebrated laws in Malaysia, and it mirrors similar laws put in place around the world. The way Malaysian natives are treated is an important issue within Malaysian culture, so the law is a very important part of Malaysian national heritage as well.

Tourists to Malaysia will find a land that provides a surprisingly large amount of diversity in activities. Not only are there pristine forests here, but some of the most popular beaches in the world are here as well. The climate is conducive to year-round travel. This makes it both a popular destination in the summer months, as well as during the winter for those looking to escape the snow. Adventure tourists find a great deal of options here as well, with some very popular trekking routes and volunteer vacations being available around the country. In fact, one of the most popular forms of tourism here is volunteerism. Volunteer tourists work as helpers on research projects that sometimes deal with very rare animals or habitats. This not only helps the economy, but it helps the scientists doing this research, and therefore the country's wilderness as a whole.

Malaysia has a much more developed legal framework for the protection of the environment than many of its neighbors. Not only are there enough laws on the books here to keep things in order, but there is enough legal empowerment here to deal with any issues that may arise. Since ecotourism is such a major part of its national income, the government of Malaysia takes its conservation laws very seriously. While these laws are indeed serious, they should not detract any serious tourist looking to vacation in the area. The average tourist will find neither difficulties with navigating the legal climate of the country, nor difficulties with any permitting process.