Sunday, June 26, 2011

Disaster in Africa averted? 26.6.2011

Whilst national governments in Africa are often criticised for inappropriate actions of various kinds, some positive recognition needs to be given to the Tanzanian Government for turning down a road proposal that would have bisected the Serengeti National Park. The proposal would have seen the construction of a tarmac road across the park the use of which, one imagines, would have interfered greatly with renowned natural rhythms and mass movements of the animals across the area. And all in the cause of convenience to tourism! I feel strongly that we should resist all such attempts to turn world value wilderness areas into places little better than theme parks. Well done Tanzania!

I have to admit that I have increasing reservations about the level of expectations visitors have relating to access to "natural areas", even in this country, demands that all too often are met with in the cause of facility provision, insurance considerations and income generation. Will there be a time when we've ruined everything? Well, perhaps not directly through facility provision, as a whole raft of major land use issues and resource extraction demands will ensure that happens! However with an increasing proportion of countryside users being town dwellers there needs to be some effective exchange of information, both at home and abroad, about the real needs of the natural environment that we all require to subscribe to. OK, some would say it happens already, if so then it's not enough! None of this is new, of course, but sadly repeated stories of habitat losses, near extinctions, pollution incidents and the like mean that, increasingly, we're moving towards a "common denominator" situation where the wonderful diversification present on this planet, constituent parts of which are dependent on specialist habitat types, will eventually disappear and we'll be left with the familiar only. Like the Tanzanian Government we too need to take the necessary , and repeated, steps to ensure respect for our environment is paramount in our approaches.

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