|Long-term prosperity vs. short-term gain|
|Written by Kathleen Wood and Marsha Pardee|
|Thursday, 15 July 2010 08:31|
TCI Protected Areas
People of the Hindu faith embrace a simple wisdom. If one kills a cow for a meal, he will feast once, but if he nurtures the cow and allows it to live, the cow will produce milk for food and manure to nourish crops for several years.
Therefore, to kill a cow for food is a folly that sacrifices long-term prosperity for a short-term gain. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, nature is our sacred cow.
In the 1970s, the rapid development that has taken place in TCI would have been beyond comprehension for most individuals, but a few far-sighted individuals were able to foresee a TCI of the future, under pressure by development with rapidly declining natural areas.
In their wisdom, they established a Protected Areas System with the National Parks Ordinance of 1975 to preserve for posterity areas of exceptional natural beauty, ecological value and historical interest. In the mid-1980s, 33 Protected Areas were chosen by a committee that included Colin Floyd, Oswald Williams, Lou Handfield, Michael Taylor, Washington Misick, Lynn Garland, Royal Robinson, Eric Lightbourne, Patricia Bradley, Sterlin Garland, Ethlyn Gibbs and Bernie Pauncefort (for the Ramsar Site).
As we fast forward 35 years, since the signing of this landmark legislation, we find ourselves in exactly the scenario predicted by the visionaries of 1975. The once deserted beaches of Grace Bay now stand lined with an almost uninterrupted wall of condominium and hotel complexes. Developmental pressure on pristine land areas, particularly on the island of Providenciales, is intense. Those with dollar signs in their eyes have set their sights on the few remaining gems of real estate, some of which are contained within Protected Areas.
Many who missed out on the big grabs of prime Crown land feel cheated, and consequently feel they deserve their own piece of developmental paradise, even if that piece happens to be found within a Protected Area. Others have already made their fortunes developing land that should rightfully belong to all the people of the TCI, but they want more.
Many wonder why we should not expand development into Protected Areas. With limited land area, few exploitable natural resources and a harsh climate that makes agricultural production less than feasible, the TCI has created a niche tourism market based on the slogan “beautiful by nature.” With one of the most extensive Protected Areas systems in the world, the National Parks, Nature Reserves, Sanctuaries and Areas of Historical Interest are the cornerstone of the TCI tourism market.
Ecotourism is the leading source of tourism revenues in TCI. Discriminating tourists demand clean sand, clear water and beautiful unspoiled beaches.
Diving revenues alone contribute millions of dollars each year to the local economy. Then there are fishing, horseback riding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, kayaking, bird watching, hiking and sight seeing activities that generate countless more dollars into the economy.
The wonderful thing about each of these activities is that, if carried out conscientiously, they can be perpetuated forever without diminishing the natural environment. Each of these opportunities is also available to any person willing to invest the effort in creating a business. Conversely, if we impair the natural environment, we lose forever the limitless opportunities nature provides.
In a nutshell, we cannot sell our pristine environment if we have developed it. A parking lot does not hold the same attraction for tourists as an unspoiled landscape. Tourists have other options, and they will go somewhere else.
The Protected Areas ensure that the TCI will remain beautiful by nature for generations to come, providing limitless business opportunities and sustainably generating millions of dollars in tourism revenues for all the people of the TCI, not just the few that were lucky or well-connected enough to get their hands on a piece of prime land.
If we protect and care for our “sacred cow,” the unspoiled natural beauty of the TCI will support a robust tourism industry for generations to come. However, if we kill the cow, clear land for unnecessary and ill-conceived development, dredge wetlands and allow the contaminants of development to spoil our marine areas, a few developers and politicians will have a feast for a short time, but ultimately, we will all starve.
Marine ecologist Marsha Pardee, M.Sc., is a Permanent Resident of the TCI, living here for nearly 20 years. She is a member of the government’s Scientific Authority Committee and a consultant for environmental management and aquaculture projects, working for both public and private sectors. She has taught many of the country’s children in local schools and in the DECR’s Junior Park Warden Program on Providenciales.
|Last Updated on Monday, 27 September 2010 14:03|
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TCI Protected Areas Series
The fp is publishing a series of articles on the Turks and Caicos Islands Protected Area System to increase public awareness and respect for the beauty and value of this "beautiful by nature" country.
The authors, marine ecologist Marsha Pardee and terrestrial ecologist Kathleen Wood, are long-time TCI residents and respected scientists in their fields.
Below are links to their articles, plus related news articles, documents and laws.
- 29/7/10: Chalk Sound National Park: Beauty and ecology
- 22/7/10: Protected Areas designations and differences
- 15/7/10: Long-term prosperity vs. short-term gain
- 8/7/10: Protected Areas save environment, generate revenue
- 5/8/10: Frenchman’s Creek: Prime real estate of TCI wetlands
Related news articles
- 1/7/10: Expert report warned about encroachment on protected areas
- 8/7/10: More than 250 lots carved in Provo parks
Links to environmental documents and laws