Green & Ecotourism Issue from Sri Lanka

I found this sad tale on the internet today, from The Island online, a local publication.

Unregulated Whale and Dolphin Watching in Southern Sri Lanka (from and copywrite The Island) :

” Commercial whale and dolphin watching tourism is a very lucrative industry in many parts of the world today. More than 10 million people go to watch and wonder and be inspired by these animals each year. Commercial whale and dolphin watching tours are being operated in more than 90 countries around the world at present.

In this respect Sri Lanka has great potential in that our seas have both an abundance and diversity of whales and dolphins. While this has been known to researchers and fishermen for many decades, the tourism industry has only focused on this potential very recently. However, being short-sighted Sri Lankans, we are once more getting ready to “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” in order to make quick money in an unsustainable manner.

In the course of a research survey last week I happened to be in the same area where the Sri Lankan whale watching boats have initiated operations off the south coast. I have no words to describe the mayhem I witnessed and I was totally appalled at what was going on. Fortunately my research team was well positioned to record and document the entire procedure on two consecutive days, even though the experience left us feeling very stressed, frustrated and helpless.

On the first day, we found a baleen whale being completely surrounded by whale watch boats and being chased at high speed every time it surfaced to breath. There were a total of five whale watch boats around it of which only one was operating in a professional and correct manner that did not unduly stress the whale and also provided safety for the whale watchers on board. Their caution and correct conduct should be highly commended and held up as an example of how to do it right. All the other commercial whale watch boats, regardless of their size and who was operating them, were harassing the whale throughout this encounter making it change its natural behaviour due to the stress they were causing it.

Unfortunately, the whale watch boats went charging towards the whale every time it surfaced, forcing it to hurriedly take a few breaths and re-submerge before it was ready for another dive. By doing this the boats were causing much physical stress to the animal while also making sure that the whale watchers who pay a large sum for these expeditions got only short fleeting views of the whale.

Etc. Etc.

Truly the world has a long way to go, but, friends, if we can all move in the right direction, then things will happen. If you fret about how little you personally can do, then know that each and every small bit we do is worth it. Eventually, this carry on will cease, or at least be so rare as to matter less.


The Bangor Trail, February 28

The Bangor Trail, Mayo.

The Bangor Trail, Mayo.

I’ll be welcoming in spring 2009 with a long walk on Mayo’s Bangor Trail on Saturday, February 28th. My plan is to leave Castlebar at 7 am to begin walking at 8 am. I plan to walk for around 8 or 9 hours, returning to the same spot. If you would like to join me, I would welcome up to 7 others, for a group of no more than 8. With just two cars, we can car pool out to the starting point. Get in touch if you’d like to come.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You must be ready for wet, windy and wild West Mayo weather and tough conditions underfoot. If you are coming, please do bring good gear, food and liquids, but please do not bring anything that might get lost in nature, like chocolate wrapping, etc. I never leave a mess behind, however small.

When we were in school many moons ago, we learned that spring begins on February 1st. In an Irish context, that’s really slightly bonkers. I’ve also heard contributors to radio nature shows tell how, for them, spring begins on St. Patrick’s Day. That’s a little late. For me, winter lasts for four months, from Nov thru Feb, spring is March, April and May, summer June, July and August and autumn can lay claim to just the two months of Sept and Oct. Certainly in the West of Ireland, that seems to make more sense to me.

Green & Ecotourism Issue from Down Under

I like this divisive issue from Australia, because it encapsulates a lot of what is problematic and difficult about spreading the word of ‘ecotourism’, ‘green issues’, ‘environmentalism’, ‘conservation’ and whatever other terminology you’re having yourself.

When I say “I like”, I presume you know what I mean.

Greens slam Coast skywalk push (from and copywrite :

” GREEN group Gecko has written to Premier Anna Bligh and Gold Coast City Council heavyweights protesting against a Hinterland tourism project — before they’ve even seen it.

Slamming the idea of a skywalk at Purling Brook Falls as ‘yet another mass tourism’ project proposed for the Springbrook area, Gecko president Rose Adams wrote that the region should be protected from, and not enjoyed directly by, tourists.

Purling Brook Falls, Australia

Purling Brook Falls, Australia


“It is essential to guard the World Heritage values of this tiny plateau, especially when confronted by the unknown impacts of climate change,” wrote Ms Adams.

“We would argue that it is a place to provide genuine ecotourism, that is, tourism harnessed for conservation, rather than a mass tourist attraction such as a skywalk.”

The skywalk was one of several suggestions submitted in a tourism project wishlist for the Coast by Tourism Minister Desley Boyle and has not even been formally proposed.

But Gecko has requested instead an ‘eco centre’ at Nerang with ‘a world-class environmental science education and interpretive centre’.

Ms Adams said Gecko would not support any large attraction or visitor centre at Springbrook itself, as the area was already overrun and its roads did not support large coaches.

Local councillor Bob La Castra said he was not surprised by Gecko’s pre-emptive strike.

“They basically want to put a barbed-wire fence around anything that’s green and look at it but not tread on it,” he said.

Springbrook Chamber of Commerce president Wayne Randall said Gecko should wait to see any proposal before shooting it down. Businesses in the area were ‘going backwards’ and desperately needed a new attraction to lure visitors, he said.

Gold Coast Combined Chamber of Commerce president Bob Janssen said Gecko had tipped the scales too far in favour of conservation and that ‘balance’ was needed. “


But more interesting are some of the comments submitted to the site by readers, including …

” What else would they say & do. They will oppose anything that is not tree hugging. I have had a total gutfull of the ‘high & mighty greens. “

” Fear mongers and environmental pains in the rear. “

” Well done Gecko!!! Springbrook is very fragile, beautiful and worth preserving at all costs.It is a wonderful place to visit to get away from the over development of the Coast. It is one of the finest assets the Coast has and should be left for those that need a little peace and serenity. “


Ah yes, this kind of stuff is at the very heart of the fight for world tourism. More than that, it is the heart and soul of the argument for where the world goes in terms of global development. We could waste our time and energy talking about CFL bulbs, but this is about world domination. This is about education. This is about the survival of all animals and landscapes. This is about the basic human instinct to dominate, destroy.

Do we continue to move forward beating our chests ever harder, or do we cop on, begin to leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs and kill nothing but time ?

Learn a little about Springbrook National Park in Australia here.

Learn a little about Gecko here.

New BA in Ecotourism at IT Sligo

IT Sligo

IT Sligo

I.T. Sligo has a new degree course commencing this autumn – the B.A. in Ecotourism and Green Event Management. Check out the brochure on the link at the end of this post, or visit I.T. Sligo’s website and search the Prospectus under School of Business and Humanities here.

Read about the BA in Ecogem – Brochure.

If you’re interested, contact the Secretary of the School, at 071 – 9155249.

Snow Covered Nephin

We get very little snow in Ireland. Despite being a relatively northern European island, our beloved Gulf Stream protects us from the harshest of climates. We suffer neither long freezing winters nor roasting hot summers. Temperatures vary from perhaps 22 C in summertime to the occasional – 5 C in the midlands during winter.

What we do get is rain, but that never stopped anybody getting out and about.

Nephin, Co. Mayo, Feb. 9, 2009.

Nephin, Co. Mayo, Feb. 9, 2009.

This is Nephin, County Mayo’s second highest mountain at 806 m, looking fabulous under its coating of snow.

Come and join me on a wild, windy and most probably wet walk on The Bangor Trail nearby, on Saturday, February 28th.

Tree Identification and Lore

Tree Identification and Lore

Tree Identification and Lore

I am currently in the process of developing a multi-evening course, entitled “Tree Identification and Lore”.

The course, which will be run in the West of Ireland, will concentrate on  showing how to identify Ireland’s native and main non-native trees, by studying leaves, bark, fruit, habitat, etc. It will be complemented by plenty of ‘treelore’, or tree related folklore.

Our native trees include Oak, Ash, Scots Pine, Yew and so on. The main non-natives of Sitka Spruce, Horse Chestnut, Sycamore, etc., will be discussed also.

Sounds great already, don’t you think ? My aim is to roll it out during March and maybe for eight weeks, to include at least one evening spent out in the woods. I’ll be holding it in MO, RN or G.

Register your interest right now, by emailing me on info at tourismpure dot com. I will be trying to locate it according to where attendees are from. Alternatively, just reply here by posting a comment.