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Old 26 Mar 2010
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Petition against a ghastly new development on the Zambezi, Zambia

HI,

I have set up an online petition against a proposal by Protea Hotels to build a huge ultra-modern new hotel in the pristine Zambezi Valley, opposite the Mana Pools World Heritage Site............and I would greatly appreciate you spending a minute or two signing it and passing the link on to your friends. Facebook and Twitter would be a big help.

Here is the petition

Many thanks

Mike

Here is the text of the original Cape Times article on the matter, written by Tony Weaver (a member here):

THIS is an African fable. Once upon a time, there was a glorious, unspoilt wilderness teeming with elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and other game. The inky blackness of the night sky, and the brilliance of the stars was undimmed by city lights. The occasional camp fire or paraffin lamp cast a soft glow under the spreading acacia albida trees.
In the north west, a steep escarpment rose from the hot, steamy river valley below, its thickly forested broadleaf woodland slopes a haven for myriad bird and small game species. To the south east of the river, the mopane forest-fringed flood plains rolled into a series of depressions formed by the old water course, and which filled up with water during the rainy season, giving the area its name, Mana Pools.
On the western bank, the Zambian side, lay the Lower Zambezi National Park and the adjacent Chiawa Game Management Area (GMA). A few low key, eco-friendly lodges lay hidden in the riverine forest, built out of local materials.
The lodges respected each other, and tried not to interfere with each other’s clients. There was just one main track through the wilderness area, with a handful of side tracks, all of them four wheel drive only. The rough air strip could handle small aircraft only.
And that’s where the fable ends. As reported elsewhere in today’s Cape Times by my colleague, Melanie Gosling, Protea Hotels Zambia, which operates under franchise from the South African parent company, plans to build an “ultra modern” 144 bed hotel which will have six double-storey blocks of rooms, a parking lot for 40 vehicles, and boat moorings on the river just 12km from the confluence of the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers, the park’s boundary with the Chiawa GMA (there are no lodges inside the park - they are all in the GMA).
This is sheer lunacy. As it is, the area barely sustains the existing lodges. Almost all of them are only open from April to November, because it is too hot and too wet in December to March to be there. The roads become impassable and the river floods. As Grant Cumings, vice chairman of Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ), and whose family owns the low key and gorgeous Chiawa Lodge told Melanie, the Protea Hotel would double the number of hotel beds in the valley - and the existing lodges already operate at below 50 percent occupancy.
A few years back, I was in the Lower Zambezi documenting a Peace Parks elephant collaring exercise, in which we were fitting GPS transmitters to the elephants in order to understand better their migration patterns. We had had a long day out in the thick jesse bush working in humid weather, hot, dangerous work.
That evening, around the fire at the CLZ camp, Grant, the collaring team, Ian Stevenson from CLZ and a couple of other lodge owners and I sat with ice cold Mosi oa Tunya s. It was a brilliant African evening. Earlier, a young bull elephant had wandered through our camp and scratched his rump against the boma upright.
Earlier, we had taken the CLZ boat out and done a slow drive along the Zambezi, doing an elephant count as we went. The banks were full of crocs, and pods of hippo guarded the shallower areas. Ian kept the speed of the boat low, explaining that they and the lodges had agreed to a “no-wake” policy to prevent erosion of the banks.
Around the fire, Grant told of their long battle to secure the area for conservation, and once they had done that, their battle to keep development low-key and appropriate to the wilderness. In particular, he said, they had fought against light pollution from large-scale electrical lighting plants. And now Protea Hotels wants to put in an “ultra modern” 144-bed hotel, which will presumably have ultra modern facilities like bright lights, aircon, discos, a speed boat marina - and no doubt they will then demand that the diabolical, four wheel drive only approach track be tarred so their guests don’t get dusty?
And Mark O'Donnell, chairman of Protea Hotels Zambia’s holding company says he believes the hotel is “appropriate” for the area?
They paved Paradise and they put up a parking lot.
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Old 27 Mar 2010
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Location: Port Harcourt, RS, Nigeria
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Just wondering......

Would the new development create jobs and (any) improvement for the people living in that area?

I look at various maps, data etc. and sadly, there is a very high positive correlation between bright lights, air pollution and development + a high standard of living.

Seems its quite an act to have development without bright lights and its attendant despoiling of 'nature' so to speak.

Tough for the visitors though.
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Old 28 Mar 2010
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Inyang asked: "Would the new development create jobs and (any) improvement for the people living in that area?"

The area is relatively lightly populated, with most of the locals living outside the Game Management Area, closer to Chirundu. Many of the locals are already employed in tourism and conservation, at the very low key, eco-friendly lodges that are already there (none of which are on mains electricity). If anything, the hotel will have a negative effect on tourism, because travellers go there for the Lower Zambezi's incredible sense of place, and to get away from the bright lights.
Livingstone already has plenty of bright lights mega hotels, so it's beyond me why Protea would want to build in the Lower Zambezi, where, besides anything else, they will have to install more than 30km of power cable just to run the air conditioning etc.

Tony
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Old 29 Mar 2010
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Little things like sewage, garbage, staff quarters, Road improvement that will also bring traffic and the air noise trash and chemical pollution that accompanies this, utilities, more planes flying in, more speed boats - canoe companies will love that. All so we can enjoy another eco-friendly lodge in a remote wilderness with gobs of gameviewing..... that is if they don't beat feet across the river. So who is profitting from this development? The lodges and camps that operate 1/2 the year and can't fill their beds? Not the wildlife, not the environment, the tourists -- cheaper accommodations maybe?

Almost forgot. I wonder how the Zambezi River and fishing will be effected?
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