Letters for Wednesday, July 5, 2017

• No one is listening • Learn from Galapagos, which is doing things right

No one is listening

In response to yet again another letter of absolute nothingness from our favorite “Watchdog” Mr. Mickens. Shhhhh! No one cares.

Ka’aona Kipuka, Lawai

Learn from Galapagos, which is doing things right

We recently returned from a trip to Galapagos, Ecuador and were impressed with that country’s stated concerns when it comes to balancing tourism and the local population. Some that we noted are as follows:

“Profits from tourism should benefit a local population, custodian of its natural assets, and properly trained to manage them. What makes a fair distribution of these benefits?”

“Unsustainable tourism brings in more and more visitors while the value per visitor falls. The result is mass tourism, bad for the environment and local business. What tourism do we want for Galapagos?”

“Immigration to Galapagos must be in keeping with a sustainable development of the local population, who value the natural capital they depend on. Population growth planning is essential for the common good.”

“The local population depends on imported food which is mostly transported by ship under precarious conditions, posing a health risk and allowing the introduction of invasive species. Locally grown, high-quality, fresh organic produce is the best bet for a future where price is not mistaken for value. What is the taste of a San Cristobal orange worth?”

Even though Hawaii’s ecological richness surpasses that of The Galapagos, and our economy and quality of life depend on the health of our environment, we have one of the highest rates of species extinctions and endangerment. Our population exceeds 1.4 million, but only a small fraction of our forests and oceans are effectively managed for conservation. In the Galapagos, almost 98 percent of the land area is a national park and the surrounding ocean is a marine preserve and are strictly regulated. The incredible amount of wildlife living there are evidence of this.

There are so many similarities between Hawaii and The Galapagos. How wonderful it would be if our state and county governments would ask these same questions when making decisions that affect our fragile islands and the population entrusted to be their custodians. How wonderful it would be if our state and county governments would embrace, rather than seemingly fight, the numerous grassroots organizations we have in Hawaii who are greatly concerned with the preservation and protection of our natural habitat, as well as the health of its local population.

The Galapagos’ primary industry is environmental tourism. Not only do the plants and animals benefit from conservation, so too do the people, whose economic livelihoods depend upon it. Whereas Hawaii’s global reputation is more closely coupled with beaches and mai tais, not for its conservation efforts. We still have a chance to change that reputation, it just takes a communal “Will of the People” to do it.

Laura Conrey, Kapaa

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