Ecotourism is travel with the desire to view, sustain, and support natural ecosystems and local cultures. Support from ecotourism can reduce habitat destruction, preserve species that suffer from poaching and illegal trade in the pet market, plus provide jobs for the local economy. For example, the Wasini Island Project in Kenya has been a major ecotourism success story. Coral reefs and mangrove forests were suffering degradation from development, agriculture, and from exploitation of reef species. Support from the Biodiversity Conservation Programme made it possible for the local community to build boardwalks and other features that facilitate viewing wildlife. Local people were trained as guides and in administration, and they now run a profitable ecotourism operation. Money from tourism helps the local economy, provides incentive to maintain the habitat, provides funds for the local health clinic, and scholarships for local students ( 2009).
In recognition of the aesthetic value of nature, in 1892 the US Congress set aside the first national park "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people" (NPS 2010). Frederick Law Olmstead, who in the 1800s designed and managed park systems and urban parks such as Central Park in New York City, believed in the rejuvenating powers of nature. He felt that contemplating nature’s grandeur allowed man to put his life into perspective. In modern times, with increasing urbanization, people seek out local parks, open space and trails, and travel to national parks and wild places where they can enjoy nature. Birding, hiking, fishing, hunting, gardening, and other forms of recreation in nature are popular activities, and are economically important.
While modern arguments often focus on the anthropocentric value of biodiversity, nature writers such as Emerson, Thoreau, Leopold, Muir and many others emphasized the intrinsic values of biodiversity. As Henry David Thoreau said, "This curious world which we inhabit is more wonderful than it is convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than it is to be used" (1837).