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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Conservation and Tourism: we will be honoured to accept.

Posted By: Sibylle Riedmiller
Date: Wednesday, 31 May 2000, at 3:57 p.m.

In Response To: The pressures of tourism: when is 'enough' really enough? (+franšais)(+espa˝ol) (Arno S. Schmid)


Dear Mr. Schmid,

Thank you very much for your kind invitation to present the Chumbe Island Coral Park project to the World Congress of the International Federation of Landscape Architects in Costa Rica. Let me also congratulate you on the choice of this year's theme 'Conservation and Tourism'. Many conservationists around the world will share our conviction that genuine ecotourism may indeed be 'the last chance' for on-the-ground conservation of many pristine areas. The observations in your Forum article, regarding the difficulty of sustaining the sensitive balance between development and conservation amidst strong economic interests, are very relevant.

Actually in the 'real world' of tourism investments, challenges to environmental sustainability may come from unexpected quarters. For example, you may quite often find 'inverted roles' among the most important stakeholders. This may be the case where revenue-hungry governments push for a scale and type of tourism that gives little chance to (often small-scale) responsible and conservation-minded investors, and set policies and regulations that favour large scale 'permanent' structures and developments that destroy the fragile environment. (Hari Baral in message 207 'Holding developers and governments accountable' also mentioned those cases).

So the discussion of case studies may come up with surprising findings and help sharpen recommendations for action by the World Congress!

I also feel deeply honoured to receive this invitation so publicly, through the 'Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development' Forum. I fully agree with you that this Forum is providing an outstanding platform for exchange of bottom-up, first-hand experiences and know-how. In addition, it is creating a true network for field practitioners who have little time (and sometimes nerve) to document experiences in a language and terminology that is acceptable in a world dominated by institutional interests.

We are certainly ready to participate and present our experiences and the lessons learnt in the forthcoming World Congress. Please note that the Chumbe project in Zanzibar/Tanzania has been an interdisciplinary process with participation of renowned professionals e.g. Braunschweig Technical University (buildings and technology), young professional volunteers from several fields, and volunteer consultants. So I am not yet sure who would be the most suitable presenter at the Congress.

Therefore, we need further exchange with you, on the particular focus of the theme of the Congress. My first impression was that, for the Professional Federation of Landscape Architects, the main interest would be environmental aspects of the architectural design and landscaping, but your invitation suggests otherwise. Your presentation of the theme raises the more fundamental question of WHAT actually makes responsible and sustainable ecotourism projects possible and helps them to survive?

We would certainly be ready to contribute to any preparatory brainstorming on the key themes of the World Congress. So please do not hesitate to ask us for any inputs you would like to have at this stage. (I will be travelling for the next two months, but will check my mailbox regularly and answer or forward Forum messages, though without access to my own database!)

Thanking you again for an exceptionally honourable invitation through this renowned network, and wishing you the best for successful preparations for the World Congress!

Looking forward to continue the dialogue, via the present Forum.

Kind regards, Ms. Sibylle Riedmiller Project Director Chumbe Island Coral Park, Tanzania.

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