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Re: [TdC] Nightingale Island: Plans for Eco-Tourism

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  • Marcia Ricks
    Incrementalism is the balm of civilized men seeking an immediately unattainable monetary blessing at someone else s expense. Fortunately for us and the
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 12, 2005
      Incrementalism is the balm of civilized men seeking an immediately unattainable monetary blessing at someone else's expense.  Fortunately for us and the ecology and residents of Tristan and other South Atlantic/under-developed islands, development has occurred at an amazingly slow pace.  That they will (and obviously have to some extent) ultimately succumb to some form of incrementalism is unavoidable - most likely in the area of power sources.
      As for my friend Wolfgang - you two have at it.  It's January, we'll confer the curmudgeon award on December 31, 2005.  My vote is for Wolfgang; he's had a lot of practice.
      With a wry smile,
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 2:28 AM
      Subject: Re: [TdC] Nightingale Island: Plans for Eco-Tourism

      I understand your views Bob and given the successful transformation of your
      island as a reference point, they do ring true.

      My experience (40 plus years financing oil and gas drilling, residential
      development and industrial expansion) has been that when an ecological
      attraction innocently becomes a revenue source, initial concerns tend to
      alter accross time and economic need is held up as justification for just
      one small additional accomodation.  Repeatedly. This has nothing specific to
      do with life on Tristan or Anguilla.  The behavior is unfortunately much
      broader based and seems to pervade all but a minority of our species.  And
      who is to say that improving the lot of our species is not the noblest of

      I wish the Islanders well.  I do not accuse them of being poor stewards of
      their domain.  I also do not presume them to be much different than any of
      the rest of us curious bipeds.  And therein, as they say, lies the rub. 
      There are times and places where extraordinary performance is required of
      those in control of fragile, if not unique assets.  If that can be attained
      and successfully mated with an economic engine on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge,
      then certainly all, including the Tristanians will benefit.

      All that sounds well and good, but from a man whose life has been the Yankee
      Dollar, I still say Caution.  And then review with Caution.  Analyze the
      consequences and their merits of all considered actions.  If that is
      managed, wonderful.  if not, well it could never be as bad as the Aral Sea,
      and it probably would never get worse than disrupting nesting patterns of
      some birds...I mean they aren't planning to build any hotels on the beach to
      fill with tourists believing they are seeing quaint cultural performances
      performed by innocent island people.

      Sorry for the anti-development jab.  I'll never forget a Cultural Exhibition
      in Xian China that inadvertently promoted the notion that in ancient times,
      the garb of beautiful young women in China was largely skin tight
      lycra-spandex.  (I may well win the Curmudgeon Cup this year unless Wolfgang
      manages an upset!)

      We probably agree on most of the attendant issues.  But having been involved
      with more than a few well intentioned projects that morphed into something
      other than the picture brightly painted, I have fallen in love with words
      like caution, slowly, smaller and patience as well of the concept of
      continuous review of approaching or divergence from original goals.

      And to add some spice to the correspondence, I grew sugar cane in Florida
      for about twenty-five years and imported "Offshore Labor" from the Caribbean
      Basin.  That, along with US sugar pricing at multiples of the world price,
      import quotas and agri-impact can fuel a lifelong exchange of missives.

      Hope you enjoy your balmy winter, right now Chicago is experiencing freezing

      Best wishes for the New Year to you and yours and all the members of the TdC

      Marty Welfeld

      ----Original Message Follows----
      From: Bob Conrich <bob@...>
      Reply-To: tristan-da-cunha@yahoogroups.com
      To: tristan-da-cunha@yahoogroups.com,   Caribbean Non-Sovereign Territories
      List <carib-territories@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: Re: [TdC] Nightingale Island: Plans for Eco-Tourism
      Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 01:50:23 -0400

      Martin Welfeld wrote:

      > My concern is that
      > encouraging increased tourism, with or without the eco prefix, will
      > definitely have an impact on the island and its inhabitants.  Hard to
      > imagine that it would be a positive impact.

      Hi Marty,

      While I agree with your viewpoint, we need to consider the
      economic reality of the less than 300 Tristanians.  Many of
      us may have some romantic view of these folks who live
      together in some sort of remote eco-monastery or marine
      theme park and have dedicated their lives to the care of the
      environment.  And while their community's relationship with
      the environment is truly outstanding, they are people, just
      as we are, and like us, may have families they love, children
      they want educated, things they want to own and places they
      want to go.  It's colourful to make a sweater by starting with
      a sheep and a spinning wheel but like us, perhaps they have
      other things they prefer to do with their time.  Who among us
      has dedicated his life to being a colourful native?  It has
      not been given to any of us to go to Tristan and tell the
      young men, "No, you shouldn't want to own a car like the young
      men on my island.  You are an environmental warrior.  You must
      dedicate your life to the land and the sea.  You must care for
      not only the small part of the island you use, but the entire
      island.  And Nightingale and its birds and plants.  And
      Inaccessible and Gough, World Heritage Sites.  They belong to
      the world, but you must take care of them for us and if you
      conform to our wishes and not say anything unseemly to the
      media, we'll give you a few pieces of silver and maybe a few
      more next near.  Why are you complaining when you have lobster
      to eat while children in Africa are starving?  And by the way,
      there are boats doing illegal fishing in your waters and you
      must patrol from here to Gough and then 200 miles past there
      and control this situation.  In your spare time.  Yes, we know
      you need a workable harbour for your boats but there are
      limitations to our budget and maybe we'll talk about that next
      year.  Plant your potatoes and be a good fellow."

      Until the Anguilla Revolution in 1967, my island was a
      neglected rock where people poked at the dirt, prayed for rain
      and moved their goats.  Without any real commerce there were
      no real jobs, and men had to go to other islands and cut cane
      to earn a few shillings because we didn't even have a plantation
      to be slaves on.

      Things are better today.  The oppressors were overthrown and
      after arguing about it for 13 years the British accepted our
      island as the newest, and last, British colony.  We had beaches
      and we built hotels and people came and today we have an
      economic miracle and chicken-and-rum politics.

      But like Tristan, we have a single market economy and need to
      diversify, in a way that won't detract from our one industry or
      annoy the touroids.  Various constraints have prevented us from
      any significant diversification.  All development has negative
      effects on the environment, and usually on society, even if
      it's just the impact of more cars on the road.

      And so, in this less than perfect world, we make some compromises
      and try to minimize the negative effects.  As Albert Einstein
      commented, "If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be
      research, would it?"


      Robert S. Conrich
      Box 666
      Anguilla                               bob@...
      British West Indies                    Tel:     264 497 2505

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    • schaferpho
      Hello all, I d just like to weigh in on this issue of developing tourism on Nightingale: I am a seabird biologist and active in island conservation, as well
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 13, 2005
        Hello all,

        I'd just like to weigh in on this issue of developing tourism on Nightingale: I am a seabird
        biologist and active in island conservation, as well as a professional wildlife photographer.
        I think the question is one of balance. First of all, from a wildlife point of view, there is
        abundant habitat already STRICTLY protected on Inaccessible and Gough islands - tourists
        DO NOT go there.

        To try and keep Nightingale as a strict nature reserve without allowing visitors, makes
        little sense biologically (the same species are well protected elsewhere) and no sense from
        the point of view of the islanders, for whom managed tourism could bring considerable

        One need only look at the Falklands to see a similar balanced programme working
        beautifully. In the Falklands, there are islands that are kept pristine (e.g. Beauchene) and
        those that have minimal, controlled visitation (e.g. Steeple Jason). Then there are places
        where access is encouraged - albeit with published guidelines of proper behaviour
        (keeping your distance, not altering wildlife behaviour etc.) .

        It is easy to think of all tourism as a negative : I don't think it has to be. The simple fact is
        the sort of people that would travel all the way to Tristan (and Nightingale) would be
        serious lovers of nature, largely respectful of wildlife -- and some of the well-behaved
        people anywhere. This is not a casual stop on the Motorway.

        I have never been to Tristan, (sadly!) but have been to other sub-Antarctic islands like it
        (South Georgia, Falklands, Macquarie, Auklands etc.) and on all of them, carefully
        managed tourism is doing very well.

        Kevin Schafer
      • Vagabond X
        This reply encompasses several messages. ... This reminds me of the Hawaiian island of Niihau. As some of you may know, Niihau has for many years been closed
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 14, 2005
          This reply encompasses several messages.

          > I was very lucky and able to get ashore at Nightengale after visiting
          > Tristan. That was in late October of 2000. The island was truely pristine.
          > Even the small shack village was neat and in good repair. The Yellow Nose
          > Albatross and Rockhoppers were fearless, allowing close approach for
          > pictures. (No contact!)
          > Who among us
          > has dedicated his life to being a colourful native? It has
          > not been given to any of us to go to Tristan and tell the
          > young men, "No, you shouldn't want to own a car like the young
          > men on my island. You are an environmental warrior. You must
          > dedicate your life to the land and the sea....

          This reminds me of the Hawaiian island of Niihau. As some of you may know, Niihau has for many years been closed to outsiders, unless invited by the Robinsons (who own it) or one of the residents. But, like everybody else, the Robinsons and the local residents do want to be part of the money economy, to have the things other peoiple have, and to improve their quality of life. So, Robinson Ranch (the family-owned company encompassing all economic activity on Niihau, and sugar plantations on neighbouring Kauai) has begun offering limited access, by helicopter, for small numbers of paying visitors. This subsidiary is called Niihau Helicopters; on the website, they explain it as a way of helping to finance the upkeep of the helicopter, which they need to bring residents to and from the island (for employment, medical care, etc.). One still cannot visit the village (nor even fly over it), but for a very reasonable price, can not only have an aerial tour of Niihau Island, but also land on an uninhabited beach for a few hours.

          Anyway, when I was there, the Laysan Albatrosses were as described in the first-cited message. Also, the Hawaiian monk seals -- which legally are not supposed to be approached -- made obeying this law rather difficult on Niihau: one can come up over a low rise, and suddenly find oneself quite close to the seal which had been hidden behind it. The seal seemed unperturbed: it raised its head to look at me, then went back to sleep. But, if more people begin flying with Niihau Helicopters, will this remain so?

          Alien and Stranger on the Earth
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