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Park inhabitants


The park contains two human settlements: La Sierra (152 houses) and El Chorro (16 houses). Both are composed of modest income families with little or no formal education. The main activities of these non-native people are commerce and labor jobs outside of the park. La Sierra is the largest settlement and occupies approx. 221 ha of the park's territory, including a hospital. The fields and lots of individuals from neighboring communities like Tacarigua and Fuentidueño were included in the park at its creation and have been extended in recent years. However, INPARQUES and the Nueva Esparta State Territorial Land Use Zoning Committee exert relatively strict control on the activities performed in the park and its surroundings. From this strict control, Margarita Island benefits as the country's most intensely mapped area; the entire island has been mapped on a 1:5,000 scale. The island also enjoys the largest proportion of protected areas in Venezuela. There is a project - currently under revision - to increase the size of the park and eliminate a large portion of the 221 ha now occupied by the La Sierra settlement. The new area to be included is currently uninhabited.




Margarita is Venezuela's most important tourism destination, receiving up to one million visitors annually (MARN 1994). The main attractions are the beaches, nightclubs and casinos. Regardless of its enormous natural beauty, nature tourism is very rare on the island. The nature tourism that exists is concentrated in La Restinga Lagoon National Park. However, due to its milder climate and beautiful forests, Cerro El Copey attracts many local inhabitants who come to exercise and enjoy the magnificent views on weekends. Some foreign tourists may also visit the park during one-day tours of the entire island. The village of Fuentidueño, to the west of the park, is famous for its nature tourism activities and guided tours to the park's various waterfalls and lagoons. Some tour agencies have included the park in their packages. In spite of all this, less than 100 people are reported to be visiting the park on a high-season weekend. Recently, however, the number of daily morning exercisers has increased. According to a newspaper article, 16,000 people visited the park's leisure area in 2001. The park has beautiful sites and the potential for ecotourism plans that would directly benefit its management.


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