Re: [TdC] Nightingale Island: Plans for Eco-Tourism
- 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,Marcia----- Original Message -----From: Martin WelfeldSent: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 2:28 AMSubject: Re: [TdC] Nightingale Island: Plans for Eco-TourismI 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
----Original Message Follows----
From: Bob Conrich <bob@...>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, Caribbean Non-Sovereign Territories
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.
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
British West Indies Tel: 264 497 2505
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- 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.
- This reply encompasses several messages.
> I was very lucky and able to get ashore at Nightengale after visitingThis 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.
> 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....
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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