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Essential Characteristics of Ecotourism

Are you a traveler ready to embark on a journey to a wildlife sanctuary that not only satisfies your wanderlust but also makes a positive impact on the environment? Look no further than activities for  ecotourism. This growing trend in travel offers an exciting opportunity for ecotourists to explore breathtaking destinations while supporting local communities and preserving our precious ecosystems, thus combating environmental degradation.

Ecotourism projects, such as wildlife sanctuaries and eco-friendly tour companies, attract ecotourists who are conscious of environmental degradation. These projects provide immersive experiences for travelers, educating and inspiring them while minimizing harm to the environment. By choosing travel with these characteristics of ecotourism in mind, you actively participate in protecting fragile ecosystems and contribute to the economic benefits of local communities.

So pack your bags, leave behind the ordinary tourist traps, and join us as ecotourists as we explore the wonders of wildlife sanctuaries and experience the amazing sites.

characteristics of ecotourism

Are you a traveler ready to embark on a journey to a wildlife sanctuary that not only satisfies your wanderlust but also makes a positive impact on the environment? Look no further than ecotourism. This growing trend in travel offers an exciting opportunity for ecotourists to explore breathtaking destinations while supporting local communities and preserving our precious ecosystems, thus combating environmental degradation.

Ecotourism projects, such as wildlife sanctuaries and eco-friendly tour companies, attract ecotourists who are conscious of environmental degradation. These projects provide immersive experiences for travelers, educating and inspiring them while minimizing harm to the environment. By choosing travel with these characteristics of ecotourism in mind, you actively participate in protecting fragile ecosystems and contribute to the economic benefits of local communities.

So pack your bags, leave behind the ordinary tourist traps, and join us as ecotourists as we explore the wonders of wildlife sanctuaries and experience the amazing sites.

Purpose of Ecotourism

Ecotourism, defined by the International Ecotourism Society, is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of local people, and involves interpretation and education. The purpose of ecotourism is to provide a leisurely experience for ecotourists while contributing to the conservation of wildlife sanctuaries and mitigating environmental degradation. Additionally, ecotourism generates economic benefits for local communities.

Educating and Raising Awareness about Environmental Issues

One of the primary goals of ecotourism is to educate ecotourists about environmental issues. By immersing themselves in natural sites, travelers gain firsthand experiences that foster a deeper understanding of ecological processes and biodiversity. Through guided tours, interpretive signage, and interactive programs led by knowledgeable guides, ecotourists learn about the delicate balance between human activities and nature. This educational aspect helps raise awareness among ecotourists about environmental challenges such as habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, and endangered species conservation. Additionally, ecotourism also brings economic benefits to local people.

Supporting Preservation of Natural Areas and Wildlife Habitats

Ecotourism sites around the world attract ecotourists who play a crucial role in preserving natural land and protecting wildlife habitats. Revenue generated from these sites directly funds conservation initiatives, including habitat restoration projects, anti-poaching efforts, research programs on endangered species, and the establishment of protected areas. By creating economic incentives for local communities, these characteristics of ecotourism becomes a powerful tool for biodiversity conservation.

Contributing to Economic Development of Local Communities

Another significant purpose of ecotourism is its ability to stimulate economic development in local communities. Ecotourists can visit sites that showcase the unique cultural heritage and natural wonders of the land, providing an immersive experience. When implemented responsibly, ecotourism can provide alternative livelihoods for residents who may have previously relied on environmentally damaging practices like logging or mining. This economic empowerment helps alleviate poverty, improve living standards, and reduce dependence on activities that harm the environment. Local communities can benefit from increased employment opportunities in hospitality services, guiding tours, or selling local handicrafts.

characteristics of ecotourism

Characteristics of an Ecotourist

An ecotourist, as defined in the ecotourism definition, is not your average traveler. They seek more than just a vacation; they yearn for authentic experiences in natural environments at ecotourism sites that leave a positive impact on the planet. Let’s delve into the characteristics that define an ecotourist and set them apart from other types of travelers who might not be interested in ecotourism projects.

Seeking Authentic Experiences

Ecotourists, who are interested in ecotourism projects, are driven by a desire to connect with nature and immerse themselves in genuine cultural encounters. They shun the crowded tourist hotspots and instead opt for off-the-beaten-path ecotourism sites, where they can truly appreciate the beauty of untouched landscapes. Whether it’s trekking through dense rainforests, exploring remote islands, or camping under starry skies, ecotourists crave unique adventures that allow them to forge a deep connection with their surroundings. Many ecotourists choose to support ecotourism companies that prioritize sustainable practices.

Prioritizing Responsible Travel Practices

A key characteristic of an ecotourist is their commitment to responsible travel practices, as defined by the ecotourism definition. They understand the importance of minimizing waste and reducing their ecological footprint at ecotourism sites. Ecotourists diligently follow Leave No Trace principles, ensuring that they leave natural areas pristine and undisturbed for future generations to enjoy. By choosing eco-friendly accommodations offered by ecotourism companies, supporting local businesses, and using sustainable transportation options, such as biking or walking whenever possible, these conscientious travelers actively contribute to preserving the environment through ecotourism projects.

Respecting Local Cultures

Ecotourism goes beyond environmental conservation; it encompasses respect for local cultures as well. Ecotourists recognize that communities living in natural areas are an integral part of the ecosystem they wish to explore. They take time to learn about local customs, traditions, and etiquette before visiting these sites. By embracing cultural sensitivity and engaging with locals on a personal level, ecotourists foster meaningful connections that enrich their travel experiences while promoting cross-cultural understanding. This approach is important for preserving the natural world and supporting the local economy in a responsible manner that benefits both the company and the community.

Interest in Biodiversity and Conservation Efforts

One cannot be considered an ecotourist without a genuine interest in biodiversity and conservation efforts. These ecotourists are passionate about understanding the delicate balance of ecosystems and the species that inhabit them. They actively seek opportunities to learn from local guides, naturalists, and conservation organizations at ecotourism sites, absorbing knowledge about flora, fauna, and ongoing preservation initiatives. Sustainable tourism and ecotourism companies play a crucial role in facilitating these educational experiences for ecotourists.

characteristics of ecotourism

The History of Ecotourism

Ecotourism, a concept that emerged in the 1970s as a response to the negative impacts of mass tourism, focuses on sustainability and conservation. This form of travel provides an alternative experience for ecotourists, while also benefiting local people and preserving important sites. Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin, one of the early pioneers, played a crucial role in promoting responsible tourism practices globally.

During this period, the tourism industry experienced rapid growth and development, leading to concerns about its environmental and socio-cultural effects. Mass tourism often resulted in habitat destruction, pollution, and disruption of local communities. It was clear that a more sustainable approach was needed to protect natural resources and preserve cultural heritage. This led to the rise of ecotourism companies and the establishment of ecotourism sites, which aimed to minimize negative impacts on the eco system.

One key organization that played a significant role in shaping the principles of ecotourism was the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN recognized the importance of integrating conservation efforts with tourism activities. They emphasized the need for responsible travel practices that would minimize negative impacts on ecosystems while providing economic benefits to local communities.

Today, ecotourism has become a popular choice among travelers who seek meaningful experiences while minimizing their ecological footprint. This form of tourism focuses on exploring natural environments responsibly and engaging with local cultures in a respectful manner. It offers opportunities for visitors to learn about wildlife conservation efforts, participate in community-based projects, and contribute to sustainable development.

Sustainable tourism is at the core of ecotourism principles. Travelers are encouraged to choose accommodations and tour operators that prioritize environmental protection and support local communities. By selecting eco-friendly options such as ecolodges or participating in guided tours led by knowledgeable locals, tourists can actively contribute to conservation efforts while enjoying their journey.

Whale sharks provide an excellent example of how ecotourism can positively impact both wildlife preservation and local economies. In certain regions around the world, tourists have the opportunity to swim with these gentle giants in their natural habitat. These encounters are carefully managed to ensure the well-being of the whale sharks and their ecosystem. Local communities benefit from tourism revenue, creating incentives for them to protect these magnificent creatures and their environment.

characteristics of ecotourism

Reducing Ecological Footprint: Potential Benefits

Choosing to engage in ecotourism can have significant benefits for both the environment and local people. By making conscious decisions and taking specific actions, travelers can minimize their negative impact on the environment while maximizing positive contributions to sustainability. Let’s explore some of the potential benefits that arise from embracing ecotourism and supporting local people.

Eco-Friendly Accommodations

One of the primary ways travelers can reduce their ecological footprint is by opting for eco-friendly accommodations at ecotourism sites. These establishments, supported by local people, are designed with sustainable practices in mind, employing renewable energy sources, minimizing waste generation, and implementing efficient water management systems. Staying at such places not only minimizes negative effects on the environment but also provides an opportunity to experience innovative approaches to sustainable living.

Supporting Local Businesses

In addition to choosing eco-friendly accommodations, supporting local businesses plays a vital role in ecotourism. When tourists spend their money locally, they contribute directly to the economic opportunities of communities residing in environmentally sensitive areas. This financial support stimulates the economy and encourages the preservation of cultural heritage by empowering locals to continue practicing traditional crafts and maintaining their unique way of life.

Engaging with Conservation Projects

Ecotourism offers tourists a chance to actively contribute to environmental protection by engaging with conservation projects alongside local people. Many destinations provide opportunities for visitors to participate in activities like reforestation efforts, wildlife monitoring programs, or beach clean-ups, working hand in hand with local people. By joining these initiatives, travelers become part of ongoing conservation efforts while gaining firsthand knowledge about environmental challenges faced by different regions and supporting the local people.

Furthermore, engaging with conservation projects fosters a sense of responsibility towards sustainable tourism and helps raise awareness among tourists about the importance of preserving fragile ecosystems for future generations.

Sunset beach

Key Characteristics of Ecotourism

Conservation-focused activities promote biodiversity preservation.

Ecotourism is centered around the conservation and preservation of biodiversity. It goes beyond simply enjoying nature; it actively contributes to its protection. Ecotourism destinations offer a range of activities that allow visitors to engage with wildlife and ecosystems while minimizing disturbance. For example, guided nature walks, bird watching tours, and snorkeling trips are designed to create awareness and appreciation for the natural world without causing harm.

Education programs inform visitors about local ecosystems and sustainability practices.

One of the key characteristics of ecotourism is its emphasis on education. Visitors are provided with opportunities to learn about local ecosystems, flora, fauna, and the importance of their conservation. Educational programs may include guided tours led by knowledgeable guides who share insights into the unique features of the area. Workshops on sustainable practices such as waste management or renewable energy can also be offered to raise awareness among tourists.

Community involvement ensures benefits reach local populations directly.

In ecotourism, community involvement plays a crucial role in ensuring that tourism benefits reach local populations directly. Local communities are often engaged in various aspects of ecotourism development, including guiding services, handicraft production, or cultural performances. This involvement not only provides economic opportunities but also helps preserve traditional knowledge and cultural heritage.

Sustainable infrastructure minimizes environmental impact while providing necessary facilities for visitors.

To maintain ecological balance, ecotourism destinations prioritize sustainable infrastructure development. This means minimizing the environmental impact during construction and operation while still providing necessary facilities for visitors’ comfort. Examples include using renewable energy sources for powering accommodations, implementing water conservation measures, and adopting eco-friendly waste management practices.

Responsible visitor behavior respects cultural norms, wildlife, and natural resources.

Responsible visitor behavior is a fundamental characteristic of ecotourism. Tourists are expected to respect cultural norms and traditions when visiting local communities. They should adhere to guidelines that protect wildlife and natural resources. This may include refraining from littering, staying on designated trails, and not disturbing or feeding wildlife.

Beach ecotourism

Impact on Indigenous People and Land in Ecotourism

Ecotourism has the potential to bring significant benefits to indigenous people and their land. By providing economic opportunities, it can uplift local communities and contribute to the preservation of traditional knowledge and cultural practices. However, it is essential to implement proper safeguards to avoid exploitation and ensure that the impacts are positive.

Economic Opportunities for Indigenous Communities

One of the key advantages of ecotourism is its ability to generate income for indigenous communities. By showcasing their unique cultures, traditions, and natural resources, local people can offer authentic experiences that attract tourists. This influx of visitors creates a demand for local products, services, accommodations, and tour guides. As a result, indigenous communities have an opportunity to participate in tourism-related businesses and benefit financially from their cultural heritage.

Preservation of Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Practices

Ecotourism plays a vital role in preserving the traditional knowledge and cultural practices of indigenous peoples. As tourists engage with local cultures, they gain insights into age-old traditions, rituals, storytelling techniques, arts, crafts, music, dance forms, medicinal practices, culinary delights, and more. This exposure not only enriches the travelers’ experiences but also creates awareness about the importance of safeguarding these valuable aspects of human diversity.

Moreover, when indigenous communities actively participate in ecotourism activities such as guided tours or workshops on traditional skills like weaving or pottery-making, they have an opportunity to pass down their ancestral wisdom to future generations. This transmission of knowledge ensures that ancient customs are kept alive while empowering indigenous people as custodians of their heritage.

Risk of Exploitation

While ecotourism offers numerous benefits for indigenous communities and their land, there is also a risk of exploitation if proper safeguards are not in place. It is crucial to ensure that tourism initiatives respect the rights and aspirations of local communities.

Firstly, any development or infrastructure projects related to ecotourism must involve the active participation and consent of indigenous people. Their voices should be heard, and their perspectives considered during the planning and decision-making processes. This ensures that they maintain control over their land and resources.

Secondly, fair compensation for indigenous communities is essential.

characteristics of ecotourism

Environmental Hazards and Impacts of Ecotourism

Unregulated tourism activities can lead to habitat destruction and wildlife disturbance. When tourists visit ecologically sensitive areas without proper regulations, they may unknowingly cause harm to the environment. For instance, trampling on delicate vegetation or disturbing nesting sites for birds and marine animals can disrupt their natural habitats. This disruption can have far-reaching consequences, such as altering the balance of ecosystems and threatening the survival of certain species.

Pollution from transportation and waste can harm fragile ecosystems. As tourists travel to ecotourism destinations, they often rely on various modes of transportation that emit carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Inadequate waste management systems in these areas may result in littering and improper disposal of garbage, which can contaminate water sources and soil. Such pollution poses a significant threat to the flora and fauna present in these delicate ecosystems.

Overcrowding in popular ecotourism destinations may put undue pressure on natural resources. When a large number of tourists flock to a limited area, it can strain the local infrastructure and resources available. The increased demand for accommodations, food, water, energy, and transportation puts stress on the surrounding environment. For example, excessive extraction of water from local sources to meet tourist demands may deplete freshwater reserves needed by local communities or wildlife.

While ecotourism aims to promote sustainable practices that minimize environmental impact, it is crucial to address these potential hazards and impacts effectively. To mitigate these issues:

  • Implement strict regulations: Governments should enforce regulations that limit visitor numbers in sensitive areas to promote sustainable tourism and eco tourism, while ensuring compliance with environmentally friendly practices that protect the eco system.
  • Educate tourists about sustainable tourism and eco tourism: Raising awareness among visitors about responsible behavior during their trips is essential for preserving the eco system. Providing information about conservation efforts, proper waste disposal methods, respecting wildlife habitats, and adhering to designated trails helps minimize negative impacts on the environment.
  • Encourage sustainable transportation options: Promoting eco-friendly modes of transport like electric vehicles, bicycles, or public transportation reduces the carbon footprint associated with tourism activities.
  • Develop waste management systems: Establishing efficient waste management systems that include recycling and proper disposal facilities can prevent pollution and maintain the cleanliness of ecotourism destinations.

characteristics of ecotourism

Government Mismanagement and Natural Resource Management

Poor governance can result in inadequate protection of natural areas in the context of sustainable tourism. When governments fail to prioritize the preservation of natural resources, these areas become vulnerable to exploitation and degradation, which undermines the principles of sustainable tourism. Without proper management, valuable ecosystems and biodiversity are at risk, posing a threat to the long-term viability of sustainable tourism initiatives.

Weak regulations in the tourism industry may lead to unsustainable development practices. In some cases, governments prioritize short-term economic gains over long-term sustainability in tourism. This can result in the exploitation of natural resources without considering the ecological consequences of tourism. For instance, large-scale deforestation or excessive fishing can deplete resources and disrupt delicate ecosystems in tourism destinations.

Collaborative efforts between governments, local communities, NGOs, and eco tourism are crucial for effective resource management in the eco system. By working together, these stakeholders can develop comprehensive strategies that balance conservation with sustainable development. Local communities often have valuable knowledge and insights about their environments, while NGOs bring expertise in conservation programs. Governments play a vital role in creating policies and implementing regulations that protect natural areas and support eco tourism.

To address poor governance and strengthen natural resource management in the context of sustainable tourism and eco tourism, several initiatives have been undertaken around the world to protect and preserve the delicate eco system.

  1. Community-Based Conservation Programs: These programs empower local communities to actively participate in the management of natural resources, promoting eco tourism and preserving the delicate balance of the eco system. By involving people who rely on these resources for their livelihoods, there is a greater incentive to ensure sustainable practices.
  2. Public-Private Partnerships: Collaborations between governments and private companies can leverage financial resources for sustainable tourism and conservation efforts. Companies contribute money or expertise while benefiting from improved environmental practices that enhance their reputation in the eco tourism industry and help protect the eco system.
  3. Ecotourism Initiatives: Encouraging responsible tourism can generate income for local communities while promoting conservation efforts. By providing economic incentives tied to preserving natural areas, ecotourism helps create a sustainable model that benefits both people and the environment.
  4. Strengthening Regulatory Frameworks for eco tourism: Governments need robust regulations backed by enforcement mechanisms to prevent unsustainable practices by companies operating within their jurisdictions. Stricter penalties for non-compliance can act as deterrents against exploitative activities that harm the eco system.

In fact, the mismanagement of natural resources in sustainable tourism by governments and companies can have severe consequences on the eco system. The depletion of forests, pollution of water bodies, and loss of biodiversity are just a few examples of the impact of eco tourism. Moreover, these activities may disproportionately affect marginalized communities who rely heavily on natural resources for their survival.

Ecotourism for women

Regulation and Accreditation in Ecotourism: Ensuring Responsible Practices

Certification programs like the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) play a crucial role in ensuring responsible practices in ecotourism. These programs set standards and guidelines that operators must adhere to in order to receive certification. By doing so, they help promote responsible travel and protect the environment.

Accreditation is an important aspect of ecotourism as it helps travelers identify genuine eco-friendly operators. When planning an eco-adventure, tourists can look for accredited businesses that have met specific criteria for sustainability and environmental conservation. This ensures that their activities align with the principles of ecotourism, giving travelers peace of mind that they are making a positive impact.

Governments also have a significant role to play in regulating and promoting responsible ecotourism practices. They can enforce regulations that require operators to follow sustainable guidelines, protecting natural resources and local communities. By implementing strict regulations, governments can ensure that ecotourism activities are carried out on a scale that does not harm the environment or disrupt local ecosystems.

One of the key benefits of eco tourism certification programs like GSTC is their ability to standardize sustainable practices across different destinations. This allows eco tourists to have consistent experiences no matter where they go while ensuring minimal negative impact on the environment. For example, certified eco tourism operators may be required to minimize waste generation, conserve energy, use renewable resources, and support local communities through fair trade practices.

Accreditation in tourism encourages continuous improvement among operators by providing feedback on areas where they can enhance their sustainability efforts. It pushes businesses in the tourism industry to adopt best practices and innovate in terms of reducing their ecological footprint. This ongoing evaluation ensures that accredited operators in tourism stay true to the principles of responsible practice and constantly strive for better environmental stewardship.

In addition to certification programs, governments can establish protected areas or national parks where only authorized eco-tour operators are allowed access. These designated areas serve as havens for biodiversity and help protect fragile ecosystems from the negative impacts of mass tourism. By limiting access and carefully managing visitor numbers, governments can ensure that ecotourism activities are conducted in a sustainable manner.

Ecotourism reasons

Indirect and Direct Benefits of Ecotourism

Ecotourism not only offers a chance for travelers to explore natural wonders, but it also brings about numerous indirect and direct benefits that positively impact local communities and the environment. Let’s delve into these benefits and understand how ecotourism contributes to economic growth, improved infrastructure, healthcare, education, and conservation efforts.

Direct Benefits: Income Generation for Local Communities

One of the most significant direct benefits of ecotourism is its potential to generate income for local communities through employment opportunities. As tourists flock to ecotourism destinations in search of unique experiences, locals can capitalize on this demand by offering services such as guiding tours, providing accommodations, or selling handicrafts. By engaging in these activities, community members can earn a living while showcasing their culture and traditions.

Moreover, ecotourism often encourages the establishment of small businesses that cater specifically to tourists’ needs. From eco-lodges nestled amidst breathtaking landscapes to locally-owned restaurants serving authentic cuisine, these enterprises thrive due to the steady influx of visitors. Consequently, they create job opportunities for locals and contribute directly to the economic growth of the region.

Indirect Benefits: Improved Infrastructure, Healthcare, Education

Beyond direct economic benefits, ecotourism also leads to substantial indirect advantages that enhance overall quality of life within local communities. The revenue generated from tourism can be reinvested in improving infrastructure such as roads, bridges, sanitation facilities, and communication networks. As a result, residents enjoy better accessibility within their own regions and witness an improvement in their daily lives.

Furthermore, increased revenue from ecotourism allows governments to allocate more resources towards vital sectors like healthcare and education. With additional funds at their disposal, authorities can establish medical clinics or hospitals in remote areas previously lacking adequate healthcare facilities. Similarly, schools can be built or upgraded with better educational resources for children residing in ecotourism hotspots. These developments not only benefit the local population but also contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable society.

Conservation Efforts: Financial Support through Visitor Fees or Donations

Another crucial aspect of ecotourism is its role in supporting conservation efforts.

Conclusion for the Top Characteristics of Ecotourism

Understanding the characteristics of ecotourism is essential for anyone interested in sustainable travel and conservation. By examining its purpose, the traits of an ecotourist, the history of this form of tourism, and the potential benefits it offers in terms of reducing ecological footprints, we can gain valuable insights into how to engage in responsible travel practices.

Ecotourism encompasses seven key characteristics that distinguish it from traditional forms of tourism. These include minimizing environmental impact, promoting conservation efforts, supporting local communities, providing educational experiences, fostering cultural understanding, offering direct financial benefits to conservation initiatives, and prioritizing visitor satisfaction.

However, it is crucial to acknowledge that ecotourism can have both positive and negative impacts on indigenous people and their lands. While it has the potential to empower local communities by generating income and preserving cultural heritage, there are also instances where mismanagement by governments or insufficient natural resource management may lead to adverse effects.

To ensure responsible practices within the tourism industry, regulation and accreditation are crucial. Implementing guidelines that enforce ethical standards can help protect ecosystems and promote sustainable development while maintaining high-quality visitor experiences in tourism.

Engaging in ecotourism not only allows us to appreciate nature’s beauty but also provides numerous indirect and direct benefits. From economic growth through job creation to increased awareness about environmental issues among travelers, this form of tourism has the power to make a positive impact on our planet.

In conclusion, understanding the characteristics of ecotourism empowers individuals like you to make informed decisions when planning your travels. By choosing eco-friendly destinations and supporting responsible operators who prioritize sustainability efforts, you can contribute towards preserving our natural wonders for future generations while enjoying unforgettable experiences.


How can I identify if a tour or destination is truly practicing ecotourism?

Look for certifications such as those provided by organizations like Green Globe or Rainforest Alliance in the field of eco tourism. These eco tourism accreditations indicate that the tour or destination meets specific environmental and social responsibility criteria.

Is ecotourism only about visiting natural areas?

While ecotourism often revolves around nature-based experiences, it can also involve cultural immersion and interaction with local communities. The focus is on responsible travel practices that benefit both the environment and local people.

Are there any negative impacts associated with ecotourism?

Yes, if not managed properly, ecotourism can lead to negative consequences such as habitat disturbance, increased waste generation, or exploitation of local cultures. That’s why it is crucial to support operators who prioritize sustainability and work towards minimizing these impacts.

Can I make a difference as an individual traveler in promoting ecotourism?

Absolutely! By choosing eco-friendly accommodations, supporting local businesses, respecting wildlife and ecosystems, and spreading awareness about responsible travel practices among fellow travelers, you can contribute significantly to the growth of sustainable tourism.

How does ecotourism contribute to conservation efforts?

Ecotourism provides direct financial benefits to conservation initiatives through entrance fees or donations. By raising awareness about environmental issues and fostering a sense of appreciation for nature among travelers, it helps create a collective mindset towards conservation.