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Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Environmental Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Barnhart, Charles

Second Advisor

Sheikh, Imran

Third Advisor

Sifuentes, Froylan


Global tourism is an interconnected framework of multiple industries that is influenced by and has impacts on economic, social, and environmental structures. Currently, tourism accounts for roughly 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is expected to grow with industry expansion. To develop a scalable system for ecotourism assessment, emission reduction, and solutions to meet carbon neutrality, a small (n=3894 participants) adventure relay race named Ski to Sea in Bellingham, WA was studied. A life cycle analysis (LCA) conducted on the race showed similar proportional results to other tourism LCAs, where transport made up over 80% of the 325 tonnes of CO2e emitted in connection with the 2023 race. Life cycle management (LCM) techniques were assessed to determine reduction potentials, and opportunities for reducing race emissions by 11-53% were identified. For the remainder, an offsetting system based on natural climate solutions (NCS) through a carbon trust network was evaluated. With a shared basis in nature and community, ecotourism and NCS strategies provide a reciprocal relationship with multiple co-benefits. An estimate of $3.93-8.37 per participant is estimated to financially cover local biochar projects to achieve carbon neutrality for Ski to Sea, depending on reduction measures taken. Further research into standardized and accessible LCM techniques, NCS capacity, and voluntary carbon markets would allow for a wider implementation of these principles, while re-imagining the administration of ecotourism at large may be considered a different pathway for decarbonizing the industry.




ecotourism, tourism, sustainable tourism, life cycle assessment, life cycle management, natural climate solutions, event management, sustainable events


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Ecotourism; Sustainable tourism; Climatic changes; Greenhouse gas mitigation




masters theses




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