Uttarakhand is uniquely placed for its natural, social and cultural resources. With its pristine and picturesque environment and innumerable religious shrines, Uttarakhand is also known as abode of Gods. Snow clad mountains, panoramic alpine meadows, mighty Himalayan criss-crossed valleys, life giving perennial rivers stippled with lush green forests and high biodiversity are amongst the many attractions which initiate inspiration to the soul and make Uttarakhand a spiritual destination of the world.

Uttarakhand, the 28th state of the Indian Union came into existence on 9th November 2000. With a geographical area of over 53,483 km2 this state constitutes nearly 1.67 percent of the country’s total geographical area. The state is inhabited with a population of 10116752 as per 2011 census, comprising two major ethnic groups named as Indo-Aryans and Indo-Mongoloids. Various communities amongst these groups play a major role in conservation of various natural resources of the state.

Uttarakhand state’s recorded forest area is 34650.56 km2 which is 64.8 % of its total geographical area and 4.5% of the national forest area. Its forest cover is 24,465 km2 which represents 45.74% of the state’s total geographical area and 3.61% of the forest cover of the country. With 6 National Parks, 7 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 4 Conservation Reserves comprising nearly 8000 km2 of area the state is a vast reservoir of magnificent biodiversity. The state has two Tiger Reserves and has second highest number of tigers in the country with Corbett Tiger Reserve having the highest density of tigers in the world. Uttarakhand is home to nearly 4048 species of angiosperms and gymnosperm, out of which nearly 116 species are specific to Uttarakhand and about 161 species are recognized as rare or threatened under the categorization of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Faunal diversity of Uttarakhand included 102 species of mammals, 710 species of birds, 124 species of fish, 69 species of reptiles and 19 species of amphibians. Highly endangered species like the snow leopard, Musk deer, tiger, Asiatic elephant, cheer pheasant, king cobra etc. find suitable habitat in the forests of Uttarakhand. Musk Deer is the state animal while the beautiful monal is the state bird. Over 12000 van panchayats, functioning in the state are India’s earliest examples of community based natural resource management with its roots since the early 20th century. All above facts support state’s potential to develop as a top tourist destination for nature, wildlife, religious, spiritual, herbal and adventure tourism.

This ecotourism policy will work as a guiding principal to conserve and preserve the rich natural and cultural heritage of Uttarakhand along with development of social entrepreneurship traits in local communities through nature based tourism activities. The policy would aim at minimizing the impacts of nature based tourism and increasing livelihood opportunities to the communities so that it acts as an incentive for conservation action commensurate with the globally accepted principals of ecotourism to ensure adequate economic returns to the state.

Eco-Tourism in Uttarakhand

This visual map shows a perspective of the state with the majestic peaks of N­anda Devi, Dronagiri, Mana and Kedarnath in the back ground, the plains of the terai in the foreground, coinciding by the mighty rivers of Ganga, Bhagirathi Kosi and Kali. The unique flora and fauna of the state have been illustrated in the areas where one can spot them. Various eco-tourism activities one can indulge have been indicated to encourage low footprint eco-friendly travel habits. Whereas, the back of the map highlight twelve key locations where the local communities together with various organizations have encourage and successfully implemented ecology and community based tourism practices.

The map has been received very well in all quarters. ­­A special mention must be made to the response the team has received from schools in the state that have recognised Ecotourism map of Uttarakhand as an effective tool for education.


To conserve and develop the natural and cultural heritage of Uttarakhand through various eco tourism activities involving community participation ensuring their sustainable economic upliftment along with a unique and enjoyable learning experience to all the visitors arriving in the state.

  • To identify and promote ecotourism within the State at destinations of natural, social and cultural heritage values in an eco friendly manner.
  • To involve local communities and other stakeholders in promoting ecotourism activities at these destinations,, thereby helping them to generate alternative livelihood.
  • To built capacity of the local communities in important skills such as hospitality, interpretation, communication, cultural and natural heritage, guiding and legal skills in order for them to take up eco-tourism as alternate income generation activity.
  • To engage and harmonize various stake holders for the development and interpretation of the state's ecotourism values before the visitors.
  • To offer visitors an ultimate experience of the natural and cultural heritage of the state through a safe, secure and well managed eco-tourism destinations.

Guiding principles for eco tourism

The primary goal of Eco tourism in the state will be conservation and sustainable development based on responsible travel and respectfully involving local community within the extant laws. Following guiding principles will guide the development and management of eco tourism in the State of Uttarakhand.

  • All ecotourism activities shall be carried out within the provisions of Indian Forest Act of 1927. The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972, notifications issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, National Tiger Conservation Authority, Working Plans and Management Plans prescriptions, orders issued by honorable courts and guidelines issued by Government of India and the State Govt. from time to time.
  • Ecotourism activities shall aim at conservation of local biodiversity, and will be a means for conservation education and generating economic benefits to the local communities while respecting their social, cultural and traditional values.
  • All planning, implementing and monitoring activities will be carried out in strict conformity with the environmental and socio-cultural fabrics of the area.
  • Income generation through ecotourism shall be fundamentally based upon the capacity building of the local communities. Modules for capacity building shall be need-based customized training courses so developed for the purpose of carrying out various activities.
  • While developing and maintaining ecotourism destinations, sustainable use of locally available natural resources and larger emphasis on green technologies with least impact on environment and indigenous values has to be ensured.
  • Multi stakeholder partnership under the ambit of government agencies through any appropriate model shall be encouraged for developing and maintaining ecotourism sites. It may vary from a Community Based Tourism model to individual assistance under Rural Tourism.
  • Leisure and learning experience of natural, culture and traditions shall be provided to the visitors whose number shall be limited by scientifically determined carrying capacity of the site.

  • The prime responsibility of the Forest Department shall be to explore new initiatives and partnerships in ecotourism, capacity building of the various stakeholders, maintaining basic amenities in and around the FRH, development of trails, providing various technical and legal inputs, scientifically determining the carrying capacity of the ecotourism destination, developing management plans and monitoring the impacts of ecotourism.
  • A list of ecotourism activities to be carried out in and around forest areas is given in Annexure 1 and a list of probable/potential eco tourism destinations is given in Annexure 3. The activities conducted in and around the ecotourism destination shall be subject to the legal provisions applicable in the area. A set of selection criteria for ecotourism destinations is given in Annexure 2.
  • Ecotourism is protected areas shall be subject to the permission of Chief Wild Life Warden of Uttarakhand. A separate ecotourism plan for each PA and ecotourism destinations within the Reserved Forests shall be an integral part of its wildlife management plan and the management plan of the forest area. This Plan shall mandatorily mention ecotourism zone, eco sensitive zone, carrying capacity of the area and coordinating modalities with the eco tourism working agency of the state.
  • Based upon the observations given by National Forest Commission, 2006 "Tourism which was earlier thought to be adversary to the conservation goals , is now recognized not only to be compatible but facilitative to the same" this ecotourism policy strategically aims at conservation of natural and cultural resources clubbed with the development of the area.
  • Following possible activities in and around the ecotourism destinations are to be carried out depending upon the area and the scope of the work.
    • Trekking
    • Nature Walk
    • Nature Camp
    • Herbal Tourism
    • Adventure Sports
    • Intepretation Center
    • Awareness
    • Eco Park & City Forests
  • Infrastructure development at ecotourism sites shall be an important part of the strategy. A set of clean, hygienic, basic set of amenities shall be developed at selected destinations. Though already constructed structures shall be preferred but in case of need private guest houses, tourist lodges, home stays, tent colonies, mud houses outside the PA and forest areas may be developed by the working agency in an eco-friendly manner. General principles of Rural Tourism shall be kept in mind while formulating the working modalities for operating such places. This shall be done by a close consultation process between the Forest Department, local communities, working agency and the stakeholders.
  • Capacity building is an another important part of this strategy where as per the requirements of stakeholders, Forest Department shall regularly conduct trainings in areas like housekeeping, cooking, nature guiding, heritage values and legal issues and organize study tours and exposure visits. Participants to these capacity building exercises shall be various stakeholders like staff and officers of Forest Department, local communities, tour operators and other relevant persons. The capacity building work shall be carried out by a set of qualified, dedicated and domain specific experts. Finance for capacity building shall primarily come from the Forest Department and may be supplemented by the eco tourism subsidiary cell created by the Forest Corporation.
  • In order to ensure quality ecotourism products on a sustainable basis various standards and benchmarks like ecotourism operating manual, F.R.H operation manuals, best practices code, implementation model and accreditation schemes shall be developed by the working agency with close construction to the Forest Department.
  • Due consideration to publicity and extension of the ecotourism destination and activities is to be given as marketing strategy under this policy. Smaller circuits are to be laid down with specific reference to the desirable products of the circuits. Development of all kind of hard and soft material for publicity, extension and marketing shall be helpful for the sustenance and development of the ecotourism destination.
  • Every Ecotourism Destination shall be evaluated on annual basis over certain parameters by the working agency and the Forest Department. Monitoring and evaluation protocol shall be developed based upon the basic principles of carrying capacity, biodiversity index, use of biodegradable and renewable resources, involvement of local communities, waste disposal, rain water harvesting number of lodges developed, and impacts on social cultural and natural values of the area. Such a protocol shall mandatorily be developed through nationally or internationally recognized individuals or institutions.
  • Special attention will be given to treatment of waste water and disposal of solid wastes. Measure will be taken to prevent pollution of the Rivers and water bodies by developing soak pits. Effort will be made to separate biodegradable waste from recyclable material by placing separate bins. Biodegradable material will be used to generate compost. Non biodegradable material will be segregated and transported for recycling. Rain water harvesting will be followed so as to augment water availability and decreased dependence on natural sources.
  • There shall be a withdrawn back plan for each destination for enabling the management of the destination by the local communities/society. This plan shall be made by the working agency at some appropriate time when the forest department and the working agency find it fit to further propel the management of the ecotourism destination on a self propelled made by the local communities.
  • Eco tourism activities should get special privileges from the government like soft loans, grants, tax exceptions, subsidies, no or easy licensing system and single window sanction for electricity, water, and sanitation approvals.


The basic theme of the Ecotourism lies in the fact that a visitor coming from outside to a place should observe and appreciate the natural, social and cultural heritage of the area. While doing so he should be exclusively assisted by the local communities living in and around the area. The visitors must leave a zero carbon footprint behind him. In exchange the local communities must get appropriate remunerations for their services like lodging, boarding, guiding and educating. The Policy aims at bringing support to the local communities in the initial phases but gradually taking the task to a self propelled made where the whole management of the destination is fully controlled and regulated by those communities.

Annexure - 1
List Of Ecotourism Activities

Following possible activities in and around the ecotourism destinations are to be carried out depending upon the area and the scope of the work.

  • Trekking
  • Nature Walk
  • Nature Camp
  • Herbal Tourism
  • Adventure Sports
  • Intepretation Center
  • Awareness
  • Eco Park & City Forests

Annexure - 2
Criteria to select villages for Ecotourism
  • There must be potential for natural and cultural ecotourism in the villages and some ecotourism activities should be going on in villages.
  • Home stays and guest houses are functioning in the villages or there should be potential for them.
  • There must be interest in villages for participation in ecotourism activities.
  • There must be able leaders and facilitators in villages. They should be serious and enthusiastic about promotion of ecotourism in the villages.
  • Easy access to villages.
  • Clear opportunity of benefit sharing for communities in villages.
  • Easy link with other villages(There must be some facilities, services and markets in the (village which can attract nearby villagers to come in)
  • Good local administration and non government organization who can provide good working environment for promotion of ecotourism.

Ecotourism Destinations (Proposed tourism circuits)
Kumao Zone
S. No.DivisionDestination
1Ramnagar Forest DivisonSitabani – Kyari - Pawalgarh area
2Nainital Forest DivisionKilbury – Vinayak – Kungakhrk - Pangot area
3Nainital Forest DivisionKenchi - Maheshkhan - Ramgarh area
4Almora Forest DivisonMajhkhali – Soni - Kalika - Dalmoti - Sheetlakhet area
5Almora Forest DivisonGarjia – Mohan - Marchula area
6Civil Soyam Almora DivisonJageshwar - Binsar area
7Champawat Forest DivisonPancheshwar – Rameshwar - Tanakpur area
8Bageshwar Forest DivisonKausani - Gananath area
9Bageshwar Forest DivisonChaukori area
10Tarai East Forest DivisonKilpura - Surai area
11Tarai West Forest DivisonPhanto – Shikarikuan - Dhela area
12Pithoragarh Forest DivisonMusiari area
13Pithoragarh Forest DivisonAskot - Dharchula area
14Haldwani Forest DivisonNandhaur - Julasal area
15Tarai central Forest DivisionSanjay Van area

Garhwal Zone
S. No.DivisionDestination
1Dehradun Forest DivisionLachhiwala -Thano area
2Mussoorie Forest DivisionRajpur - Sahashtradhra - Maldevta area
3Mussoorie Forest DivisionVinog – Dhanolti - Devalsari area
4Chakrata Forest DivisionChakrata – Deovan - Kanasar area
5Lansdown Forest DivisionSaneh – Naudi – Kohluchaud - Dugadda area
6Soil Conservation Division, KalsiAsan – Timli - Kalsi area
7Tons Forest DivisionTyuni – Arakot – Thadiyar - Mori area
8Tons Forest DivisionMotad – HarKiDun - Sankri area
9Govind Wild Life SanctuaryNaitwar – Taluka - Osla area
10Rajaji Tiger ReserveChilla – Moticur - Ranipur area
11Garhwal Forest DivisionPauri - Khisu area
12Haridwar Forest DivisionJhilmil Jheel – Rasiyabad - Chidiapur area
13Badrinath Forest DivisionWan–Kulni–Lohajang–Kuling-Mundoli area
14Tehri Forest DivisionChamba - NewTehri - Kauria area
15Uttarkashi Forest DivisionHarsil – Tharali - Mukhwa area

Brief Information about major Forest Rest Houses of Uttarakhand

List & brief detail about Forest Rest Houses in district Dehradun

Forest Rest Houses-Dehradun

S.No.DistrictName of FRH
1DehradunTimli Forest Rest House
2DehradunRampur Mandi
3DehradunKadwapani Forest Rest House
4DehradunLachchiwala Forest Rest House
5DehradunThano Forest Division
6DehradunKanasar Forest Rest House
7DehradunBudher Forest Rest House
8DehradunDeoban Forest Rest House

List & brief detail about Forest Rest Houses in district Haridwar

Forest rest Houses-Haridwar

S.No.DistrictName of FRH
1HaridwarRasiyabad Forest Rest House

List & brief detail about Forest Rest Houses in district Tehri

Forest Rest Houses-Tehri

S.No.DistrictName of FRH
1TehriHouse Muni-ki-reti
2TehriMagra Forest Rest House
3TehriDevalsari Forest Rest House

Dhanaulti Forest Rest House


List & brief detail about Forest Rest Houses in district Pauri Garhwal

Forest rest Houses-Pauri Garhwal

S.No.DistrictName of FRH
1Pauri GarhwalKhrisu Forest Rest House
2Pauri GarhwalSaneh Forest Rest House
3Pauri GarhwalKolhuchaur Forest Rest House

List & brief detail about Forest Rest Houses in district Chamoli

List & brief detail about Forest Rest Houses in district Uttarkashi

List & brief detail about Forest Rest Houses in district Champawat

Forest Rest Houses-Champawat

S.No.DistrictName of FRH
1ChampawatDhunaghat Forest Rest House
2ChampawatRameshwar Forest Rest House
3ChampawatTanakpur Forest Rest House

List & brief detail about Forest Rest Houses in district Almora

List & brief detail about Forest Rest Houses in district Bageshwar

Forest Rest Houses-Bageshwar

S.No.DistrictName of FRH
1BageshwarKausani Forest Rest House
2BageshwarWajula Forest Rest House

List & brief detail about Forest Rest Houses in district Nainital

List & brief detail about Forest Rest Houses in district Pithoragarh

Forest Rest Houses-Almora
S.No.DistrictName of FRH
1PithoragarhAskot Forest Rest House
2PithoragarhBerinag Forest Rest House
3PithoragarhThalkedar Forest Rest House
4PithoragarhMunsyari Forest Rest House