Reserva de Guagera in the Public Registry

Tranquilo Bay worked with the Salt Creek indigenous community to request a municipal reserve from the Municipal Consejo. The consejo approved the reserve over a year ago; however it was not “legal” until it made it into the Panama Public Registry. The documents from the consejo making the reserve were published in the Public Registry on May 12. The Reserva de Guagera is adjacent to Bastimentos National Marine Park. This reserve will protect the trees, which provide roofing to this indigenous community and keep the area from ever being developed. There is a management plan which covers the reserve. It is to be managed by the Salt Creek community.

Cool Green Science – TNC Blog

This is an interesting article about new forms of energy consumption. The impacts of such vary based upon the type of energy production. I recently reconnected with one of my friends from high school and college who is also in this same business. With the new regulations in the USA and in other parts of the world this issue needs to be addressed yesterday. We are also encountering these types of things here in Bocas. There are several projects which are dealing with both waste management and biofuel. We are watching these projects carefully. We shall see what happens – we all may be using waste products to create our fuel someday.

Bocas Sustainable Tourism Alliance on FaceBook

So, you can now keep up with all the activities of the Bocas Sustainable Tourism Alliance on its website at www.discoverbocasdeltoro.com and on FaceBook. BSTA would love for you to become a fan.

BSTA has a tourism information center open on Calle Tercera on Isla Colon for any of you traveling to Bocas. BSTA has information on all of its members available both online and in the information center. There are many different projects in different stages of development to promote sustainable tourism here in Bocas del Toro.

The first Farmer’s Market, developed in conjunction with the municipality, is going to be held this Saturday, September 5 in the park on Isla Colon. Please support the Farmer’s Market and BSTA. We all hope to make a positive difference here in Bocas.

Old Bank Field Trip

The Bocas Garden Club had a session in Old Bank with two guys who have a really neat project with both STRI and USAID. The project is putting in an anaerobic sludge blanket waste management system for a large number of the houses on Old Bank. We took the kids as a field trip to learn more about it. It is a very interesting project.

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A completed system.

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A system under construction.

Bocas Sustainable Tourism Alliance One

Take a look at the new website for the Bocas Sustainable Tourism Alliance. It is www.discoverbocasdeltoro.com The website provides a forum for both tourists and residents alike to talk and gather information about Bocas del Toro, various initiatives underway and in the future sustainable tours. We are excited to be working with this group and watching the positive changes it is bringing to Bocas del Toro.

2009 Geotourism Challenge

National Geographic in partnership with Ashoka’s Changemakers, is sponsoring the second annual global Geotourism Challenge: Power of Place—Sustaining the Future of our Destinations.
National Geographic defines geotourism as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place -its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents. Geotourism incorporates the concept of sustainable tourism -that destinations should remain unspoiled for future generations- while allowing for enhancement that protects the character of the locale. Geotourism also adopts a principle from its cousin, ecotourism -that tourism revenue can promote conservation- and extends that principle beyond nature travel to encompass culture and history as well: all distinctive assets of a place.

Tranquilo Bay is participating in this challenge. We submitted an application for our Bocas Adventure project. You can see our application here. Our Bocas Adventure project will create a facility adjacent to Bastimentos National Marine Park that provides sustainable public access to the area’s parks and reserves. As you know, Bocas del Toro, Panama is an ecologically sensitive area. Current estimates show 100,000 travelers visit Bocas del Toro each year. Currently, there are no facilities providing sustainable public access to the area’s parks and reserves. Bocas Adventure will immerse visitors in our community’s local and natural history, culture, ecology, flora and fauna. We will use sustainable activities such as arts, hiking, kayaking, research, snorkeling and wildlife viewing as educational and cultural exchange tools to enlighten visitors and provide sustainable employment to the community. Bocas Adventure gives the entire demographic spectrum visiting Bocas del Toro (from backpackers to wealthy travelers) access to the extreme biodiversity found within and adjacent to Bastimentos National Marine Park.

Bocas Sustainable Tourism Alliance is also participating in the challenge. You can see the BSTA application here. Bocas Sustainable Tourism Alliance is an organization here in Bocas del Toro that we are working with on destination management among other pressing issues. The ultimate goal of BSTA is to conserve one of the most important watersheds in Central America. Currently, the remarkable ecology of the Bocas del Toro watershed is under threat from unplanned and incongruous tourism and residential development. To respond to the threat of unplanned development, tourism stakeholders in the region have decided to create a Destination Management Organization (DMO), known as the Bocas Sustainable Tourism Alliance (BSTA), with the following objectives: (i) develop best management practices for stakeholders in the Bocas del Toro watershed: (ii) inform tourists about the culture and nature based activities that can be experienced in Bocas and facilitate booking of these activities through a geotourism information center and Web site (www.discoverbocasdeltoro.com) (iii) diversify the tourism products available in Bocas by identifying and supporting the development of culture and nature based tours and packages; (iv) facilitate training programs for natural resource management, guiding, and other tourism services; and (v) generate revenue to support local conservation efforts in the region.

Right now, there are 415 nominations from 74 countries and 1048 nominations from 112 countries. Latin America has the strongest presence in the challenge because the MIF, through its Sustainable Tourism Cluster (STC), has signed partnership agreements with National Geographic and Ashoka Changemakers aiming to promote and support geotourism initiatives that benefit local communities by improving the competitiveness, social use and sustainability of tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean. MIF’s STC will select and co-finance 20 projects from institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean proposed through the Geotourism Challenge 2009.

The Geotourism Challenge is completely on a Web 2.0 platform. You are welcome to peruse the entries and make comments on any of them. We would love it if you took a look at our application and let us know what you think. You will have to join the website to provide comments or nominations. Voting for the challenge opens in Fall 2009. Good luck to all the participants.

Write a 250 word essay…

I get an email Monday through Friday from a company called Ideal Bite. They have different tidbits of information for one to improve day to day activities and purchases so that what you do is more sustainable than other options. Some work for those of us on an island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and some do not. Today they sent out a special email with a link to a contest where you write a 250 word essay about what you would do to make your community a greener place. The top five entries will receive $20K and a variety of other things. You must be a resident of the USA in order to enter. So we strike out in this instance. But really, what does it take to come up with an idea and write 250 words? You might win. You might not. So what. Give it a try.

Go see it here: http://greeneffect.nationalgeographic.com/

Time Flies

Wow – so much time has passed since my last post. We decided that we needed a new look and feel for our website so we spent several months working on the whole redo. What has resulted seems to be much easier to navigate and includes many new photos. We have been blessed with a great number of clients who give us copies of all of their amazing photos and then Jim has taken thousands of photos as well. This enabled us to add almost 20 galleries. We have plans for quite a few more which will help us to display the beauty of Bocas del Toro Panama.

We have been working heavily with several government agencies doing what we can to help preserve the natural beauty of Isla Bastimentos. The government is looking at enlarging Bastimentos National Marine Park which we think would be great. It guarantees that Isla Bastimentos will have the resources and the regulations which help protect it from further development.

Recently we hosted a couple of research scientists from the Smithsonian Institue who were study the red frog population across all of Isla Bastimentos. These two women reviewed some of our photos while they were here and found one particular vividly colored katydid interesting. Jim emailed a photo of it to them and they sent it on to their expert. This expert is fascinated by the katydid and believes it to be a new species. Jim is working with this expert on a regular basis now to help him acquire whatever information he needs to further study this katydid.

Sacrifice for rain

Today it rained. If you want to call it that. I got slightly wet on my ride from Isla Bastimentos to Bocas Town on Isla Colon. I wore my rain jacket and the only part of me which was covered by the rain jacket which ended up wet was the center of my t-shirt where the rain jacket’s zipper rested.

We need some real rain. Rain that comes down hard for an extended period of time. All of Panama is suffering from one of the longest droughts in recent history. We live in the rain forest after all. We expect it to rain.

When we haven’t had rain for some period of time we begin to make sacrifices in hopes of inducing the sky to open up. One of the first sacrifices we must make is that I make a trip into town. You see, I rarely leave the property, but if I do – inevitably it rains. And today it did rain, just not much. It was almost an insult to my sacrifice the small amount of rain that we received. It has continued to look like it is going to rain off and on for most of the day. So maybe if we are really lucky and since I am planning to go to the beach tomorrow – we will get some rain either tonight or tomorrow. I will keep my fingers crossed.

Water

Water. I have been thinking about it quite a bit for the past month or so. You see we are experiencing an unusual draught these days. We haven’t had much rain for some time now. The town closest to us actually ran out of water for about three days. Not having water is scary stuff. But it is the kind of thing that you really do not stop and think about most of the time in a developed nation. Water is just there. You can turn on the tap and out comes the water.

The only time I remember being concerned in the least bit about water and access to it was when Houston was hit by a hurricane. I remember filling the bathtub with water so that we could be assured we would have water in the event the municipal utilities were harmed in any manner. We didn’t have power for several days following that hurricane but I do not remember actually losing access to water.

Life on Isla Bastimentos requires that we constantly monitor our water consumption. We have to make sure that we will have water to support our guests. Each of our cabanas is self sufficient with regard to the water supply our guests actually use. We never run into issues with consumption at the cabanas. And if we did, we can divert water from the main supply to a cabana. Instead we monitor our usage in the main building and in all of the support buildings. We have all learned to wash our hands and brush our teeth with a limited use of water.

I have learned to ration my use of water. I still have a long way to go. Water is very important to us all and yet we use and abuse it day in and day out. Where would we be without water? Exactly not a question one wants to answer.