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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Conservation needs tourism development / Chumbe Island-Tanzania

Posted By: Andrew Jones, Rodney Salm, Paul Siegel
Date: Friday, 7 July 2000, at 3:23 p.m.

In Response To: Coral reef conservation without tourism development / Chumbe Island-Tanzania. (Michael J. Risk)


Moderator's note: Three responses have been received relating to 'Coral reef conservation without tourism development / Chumbe Island-Tanzania' by Mr. Michael Risk, since they contained similar ideas they have been combined here in one contribution.


I find Mr. Risk's concerns about Chumbe understandable, though if I understand his meaning correctly, I would like to stress that without some form of private involvement to manage Chumbe Island, then much worse damage would probably ensue. Public management of marine or terrestrial reserves in Zanzibar does not have much of a track record - a lack of resources and a lack of political will to enforce restrictions. These factors, together with very little NGO or international presence on the scene mean that conservation won't happen easily. I suggest that this is a good reason to back the presence of tourism there.

Mr. Andrew Jones,
Environmental Assessment and Evaluation,
London School of Economics, U.K


In his comment to the forum, Mike Risk states: "I worked on the reefs of Chumbe Island for several years. In my professional opinion, there should be no tourism developments on that island, of any sort, for any reason."

Oh for a world where this would be possible! There is land grabbing along the coasts of the world, and it is rampant in East Africa. What Sibylle Riedmiller has done on and around Chumbe Island is a model to us all on how to use private sector interest, motivation, and money to achieve sustainable conservation of an island and its surrounding reefs (considered to have 90% of East African coral species). Chumbe is a bold experiment that has the potential to achieve financial sustainability for a marine conservation area and to manage the integrated unit of reefs and island effectively.

Thirty years of attempts by others may have achieved some degree of conservation in conventional marine protected areas, but have largely failed to generate the funds to manage these sites adequately without external subsidy. In my humble opinion, the recognition and accolades the Chumbe Island development has received in recent times are well deserved. I congratulate Sibylle Riedmiller and her team, and the Zanzibar authorities whose foresight facilitated the process. I hope Chumbe and Ms Riedmiller will get all the support they need to continue the success of this venture.

I hope too to be able to raise the money necessary to bring over groups from the Asia Pacific area to meet the authorities in Zanzibar and the Chumbe team and learn from this initiative. This is an interesting discussion.

Mr. Rodney V. Salm,
Director, Asia-Pacific Coastal Marine Program,
The Nature Conservancy, Honolulu, Hawaii


In response to Mr. Risk's suggestion that, due to the fragility of shallow Holocene veneer reefs, no tourism should be allowed, I would like to point out that without Ms Riedmiller's tireless efforts (and those of her colleagues), the area would have been devastated long ago. If we lived in a perfect world, Mr. Risk's position might be the best. However, on Zanzibar, poverty, lack of information, and few alternatives define the over-riding reality. The Zanzibari government has very limited resources for law enforcement and cannot provide adequate coverage. Chumbe Island Coral Park, which is pollution free and prides itself on environmental protection, provides a conservation minded "on the ground" presence. While most of our local reefs were severely impacted by the recent bleaching event, those on Chumbe withstood the pressures better than most - circumstantial evidence true, but compelling nonetheless. Until the governments of reef-stewarding countries can adequately ensure the protection of such habitats, strategic partnerships - including those with the private sector - are an important tool and ought not to be summarily discounted.

Mr. Paul Siegel,
WWF Country Representative for Tanzania

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