Birds of Taveuni, Fiji by Kate Kelly

A few days after settling in at Nakia Resort and Dive 
(http://www.nakiafiji.com), my brother and 
sister-in-law’s resort on the Fijian island of Taveuni, 
I began to think about getting up into the bush to see 
what we could find in the way of avian life.  
After making a phone call or two, my sister Joyce 
and I set out at 5 am on a quiet and cool June morning to 
look for forest birds.  Our birdwatching guide, Logi,  
knows the forests above his native village of Qeleni, 
so we headed first for the village and then up a steep, 
3-mile rocky path with an experienced bush driver as 
the sun was beginning to appear over the mountains.
The land we entered is owned by the village, and was 
once a large coconut plantation--back when copra 
was the major cash crop for the islands.  This large 
mountainous area is filled with rivers and scattered 
homesites, many belonging to villagers growing patches 
of dalo on the hillsides.  Dalo (a dry-land type 
of Taro) is Fiji’s new cash crop, an edible tuberous 
root that many Fijians grow on cleared hillsides to 
provide an income for the coming year. 
Halfway up the bumpy road, Logi told our driver to stop as we 
spotted a pair of Masked (aka Musk) Shining Parrots 
flying across the canopy.  We climbed further and 
left the van at a high spot with lots of low-growing vines, 
grasses, and shrubs, and clusters of Rain Tree, 
Coconut Palm, Flame Tree, Acacia, Hibiscus, and Breadfruit.  
Most of the birds we spotted have multiple names in both 
English and Fijian.  Where I could, I took the 
names from Dick Watling’s Guide to the Birds of Fiji and 
Western Polynesia, a recognized standard, 
but not readily available.  Logi used an older edition of 
Fergus Clunie, Birds of the Fiji Bush.  Many of 
the birds we saw are forest birds that have been identified 
as threatened or endangered by Vilikesa T. Masibalavu 
and Guy Dutson in Important Birds Areas in Fiji. We heard 
and got a good look at a Barking Pigeon (whose call could also 
be mistaken for an owl), Polynesian Triller, 
Lesser Shrikebill, Spotted Fantail, Golden Whistler, Vanikoro Broadbill, 
Ogea Flycatcher, Wattled Honeyeater, Red Junglefowl, White-collared 
Kingfisher, Polynesian Starling, a pair of Lorikeets (brief glimpse), 
Pacific Harrier, Yellow (orange-)breasted Honeyeater, and many White-rumped 
Swiftlets darting for insects.  
As we walked back down the trail, the mountains 
were full of bird calls, the sun had risen over the ocean, 
and the air was still cool with a touch of fog approaching 
from the north. 
Over the next two weeks of my stay on Taveuni, I watched Fruit Bats fly over the

Somosomo Strait from south to north every evening, and learned to listen for the 
resort’s magpies chortling high up in the palms.  At the island’s more agriculturally 
developed southern end, I saw an Orange-Breasted Myzomela, more parrots 
(probably Red Shining parrot), Brown Quail (with chicks), Collared Lory, either a 
Fiji White-Eye or Silvereye, and several sea birds. 
The Fijian government recognizes that these birds are a treasure.  
It has been encouraging Fijians to preserve bird habitat, but 
that habitat is also the source of many Fijians’ income for the year.  
Deforestation and bush clearing for planting dalo are 
endangering many of these birds, including the Silktail, which 
many birders hope to see when they visit.  
While I didn’t get a glimpse of either the Silktail or the spectacular 
Orange Dove, a must-see for many visitors, it was awesome to view 
and hear these beautiful birds living easily and in close proximity to 
human dwellings. Like so many eco-tourist destinations today, 
Fiji is trying to convince its people to sacrifice income from a cash 
crop (dalo) to protect the future of its most vulnerable and unique 
natural resources. 
I left the island hoping that the work and warnings of dedicated 
researchers and enthusiasts, together with the income from ecotourism, 
will create the will to celebrate, protect, and extend the future of these 
beautiful native birds. 

Energy Awareness Seminar in the U.S. Virgin Islands at Northside Valley

Follow the link to find out more about this seminar taking place Tuesday August 21 through Saturday August 25, 2007 or go to http://www.northsidevalley.com where you can also register for the event.

Sustainable Living at Northside Valley in the U.S. Virgin Islands

 

Here are some ways we strive to promote sustainable tourism: 

  1. Light Bulbs are exclusively Compact Flourescents.  These bulbs

         Last longer (many of these bulbs have been in these houses for 6 years.

         Burn with less heat, very important in a hot climate.

         Use 70% less electricity (kwh cost in Chicago .08, in

St. Croix .23).

  1. Bathroom showers use low-flow/stop devices and

– Optional outdoor showers water nearby vegetation.

  1. Landscaping is eco-friendly because

            – Large trees and understory plantings are cultivated.

– Mowing is limited to once monthly and is not done under trees.

– Native plants/trees are cultivated and preserved.

– Herbicides and pesticides are not used.

– Watering is unnecessary because of the type of plants that are nurtured.

  1. Hot water  – Electric small capacity heaters use timers to limit power drain.
  2. Ceiling Fans, screened windows, and shade trees keep temperatures low inside the houses, therefore air-conditioning is unnecessary.
  3. Wash and Rinse dishpans are provided for dishwashing.  Guests are invited to dispose of gray water outside on vegetation.

In addition,

The water used in each house is rainwater – a renewable resource.

We commit to recycling the following:

      Cardboard

      Aluminum

      Compost

      Glass

All the houses use a septic system – a septic will break down waste naturally as long as bleach is not encountered in the system.  We do not use bleach in our houses. 

Cleaning materials used in the houses are natural biodegradable products.  White vinegar and biodegradable dish detergent are the primary cleaning products.  Linens are washed in a front loading, high-efficiency washing machine.  They are line-dried in the sun.  Linens are made from cotton or bamboo.  Bamboo is a highly-sustainable product and is grown in developing countries as a natural resource.  Bamboo returns 35% more oxygen than most other  plant-life.    

Ginger Brown Vanderveer

Northside Valley, U.S. Virgin Islands

http://www.northsidevalley.com

Homestay in Dominica

3 Rivers Eco Lodge, Dominica is delighted to announce the launching of their new community village homestay programme.

Guests now have the opportunity to stay in the home of a family in the beautiful village of Grand Fond, Dominica, through our new community village homestay programme.

This is the latest addition to our community based activities, giving guests a real experience of true life in Dominica.

Each participating family has asked to be in the programme and is looking forward to your stay in their home.

Fore more details, please email us at jem @ 3riversdominica.com (remove the spaces around the @  to send an email). 3 Rivers continue to strive to assist the local community in accordance with our social policy, for a brighter, sustainable, future.

 

Scholarship Fund in Dominica

Scholarship Fund in Dominica. The Sustainable Living Initiative Centre – S.L.I.C. is proud to announce the launching of the Grand Fond pre School Scholarship Fund, sponsored by Miami University, Ohio and 3 Rivers Eco lodge, Rosalie, Dominica.

These scholarships have been funded by Miami University donors, and 3 Rivers Eco lodge, and it is hoped that they will be the first of many scholarships awarded as the project grows.

SLIC, 3 Rivers Eco Lodge, Lifeline Ministries and Miami University are proud to facilitate another educational project with immediate and direct benefits to the local community, following the recent success of Computer Mission Dominica, which saw SLIC, in collaboration with http://www.nsoptimum.co.uk, the Bromsgrove School, in the U.K., and 3 Rivers Eco Lodge, facilitating the transport, training and installation of nearly 200 computers in schools around Dominica.The Sustainable Living Initiative Centre is a Dominican NGO launched in February 2005, which now has nearly 100 members. SLIC runs training programs to enable Dominicans to install their own alternative energy equipment and help to preserve the planets resources and save money! A revolving loan fund has been set up, funded by the British High Commission in collaboration with the Roseau Cooperative Credit Union, from which members can borrow the cost of the equipment they need, and repay the loan from the savings on their bills.

For more details please contact: Berns on 449 8593 or lifeline@cwdom.dm or 3 rivers eco Lodge 446 1886 info@3riversdominica.com or The Grand Fond pre School.

Why you should visit Ecuador

It is not a question one can give only one answer. Let’s imagine to talk to our referral traveller. He/She is a person that while travelling a foreign country tries to be aware of what happens all around: loves nature and living in it, sometimes as a job; loves the colours, the smells, the sounds of nature and dislikes when the Nature is not respected and makes his/her best to help Natural Conservation, for example planting trees in front of his house, not cutting them.
While travelling tries not lo leave too many tracks of  his/her passage and avoids those tourist initiatives which damage the natural and social environment or impact on them too heavily.
We are dealing with a Responsible kind of Traveller.
And so, the question above could sound: why such a kind of traveller should visit Ecuador?
 Everything arises from the morphology of the country. Ecuador is a vertical country, that explains its deep biodiversity. In a few hours one can go from Cotopaxi on Andes, 5000meters above sea level , to the Ocean of Esmeraldas. One leaves Quito, the capital at more than 2800 meters above sea level, and after a couple of hours is in the Cloud Forest of Reserva Ecologica Pachijal, 1000 meters below on sea level, that is four or five Ecosystem below. One day bus trip takes you from Quito to Amazonia.
In the Cloudforest leave thousands of species of birds, orchids, bromelias, insects, butterflies and…more (frogs, for example).
 
Such a biodiversity could only lead to a cultural diversity spread on a small territory. Are thirteen the indigenous nationalities survived after centuries of external pressure. And are alive and proud of their language and culture. In the province of Esmeraldas the afro community. And everything quite easy to visit without the trip becoming too heavy or long or dangerous.
In the area of our Reserve lived Los Yumbos, a people that connected the Coast of Ecuador with Sierra, transporting any kind of goods along the old trails, the Culuncos. When digging is easy to find rests of their stay (potteries for example). Five kilometres far from our Reserve one can visit Tulipe, a Ceremonial Site now managed by the local Community.
Have been the Spaniards here, too, and for a long while. They left many rests, some of them terrible, and the history has already judged them, others not so bad. Let’s mention the Colonial Center of Quito, the coloured roofs of Cuenca and many colonial haciendas all over the country converted to hotels.
 Once I was walking along the Malecon in Guayaquil, I was with an indigenous from Amazonia and one from Chimborazo (we were waiting for a plane to Europe that didn’t want to arrive) and when we reached the point with all the statues of heroes of the Conquer and after, the Amazonian guy said, with subtle irony  – Look, it seems that nobody lived here before the arrival of Spaniards – and bursted laughing.
Yes! Ecuador is a country with many contradictions.
 

And then there are the Galapagos Islands. They are there, in the middle of Ocean, many people ignore that they belong to Ecuador. They have some magic all around them, thousands come from all over the world for a visit. But many are the dangers…The new President of Ecuador, Correa, announced the will to enforce protection.  We all are glad to believe him and hope…

Renato Gregorini
Reserva Ecologica Pachijal

 

 

 

 

Lomalagi Resort owner on Travel Warnings in Fiji

Many people think that Fiji is one island when, in fact there are over 300! Most resorts are near Nadi on Viti Levu, quite a distance from the Capitol city of Suva, or on or near Vanua Levu which less developed and more tropical and lush.

In December there was a “coup” (Fiji has had 4 in the past 20 years!) which resulted in the government of the day being deposed.  No shots were fired. But many countries imposed travel advisories on Fiji — to apply political pressure — implying that it was dangerous for visitors to come to these beautiful islands.

The interim government has consulted with the EU, and many other groups, seeking assistance for restoring a properly elected democratic government. No census has been done for more than 10 years! The current voting process is 100% along racial lines because of the way the previous elections were structured. It truly was not democratic — and it’s going to take a bit of time to fix. In the meantime, it’s certainly safer here than just about anywhere else in the world! In fact, I can’t think of a safer, friendlier place anywhere else……(Ms) Collin McKenny, Resident Owner

Lomalagi Resort ~ Fiji

http://www.lomalagi.com

 

New package at 3 Rivers Dominica

Jem at http://www.3riversdominica.com has just emailed me about an exciting new 2 week package that he’s put together, details below.  He’s also working on a Homestay experience associated with the lodge.  Seems like there’s always something new happening at one of my favorite eco lodges!

This 14 day package will follow this itinerary :

  • Day 1 : Arrival and transfer to 3 Rivers.
  • Day 2 : Local guided hike to some incredible natural wonders!!!!
  • Day 3 : THE SOUTH EAST TOURÂ
    • Grand Fond – Derniere Falls
    • Ravine Cyrique – Dominica’s best kept secret
    • Boetica & Glassi Point – A lake in the ocean … almost !!
  • Day 4 : Free Day, or local guided hike.
  • Day 5 :THE ROSEAU VALLEY TOURÂ
    • Ti Kwen Glo Cho Hot Tubs & Mudbaths
    • Trafalgar Falls
    • Freshwater Lake
  • Day 6 : THE CARIB TERRITORY TOUR
    • Emerald Pool
    • Castle Bruce & l’Escalier de Tete-Chien
    • the Spanny Twin Falls
  • Day 7 : PART 1 – Space Mountains expedition – overnight camp in forest
  • Day 8 : PART 2 – Space Mountains expedition
  • Day 9 : WILDLIFE DAY
    • Whale watching
    • Turtle watching
  • Day 10 : CARIB JUNGLE EXPERIENCE – sleep in one of our jungle cabins
    • Carib Craft workshop
    • Learn about, cook and eat traditional carib food
  • Day 11 : ½ day on an organic herb farm, discovering traditional herbal medicines & remedies, and tasting various bush teas, followed by ½ day helping out in the local village primary school : getting to know the kids, and sharing experiences with them and giving general assistance. SLEEP IN THE JUNGLE FOR THE SECOND NIGHT.
  • Day 12 :THE NORTH WEST TOURÂ
    • Layou Hot Springs & Macoucherie Rum Factory
    • Indian River
    • Salisbury Beach
  • Day 13 : CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS :
    • Free day.
    • Boiling Lake guided hike.
    • Renewable energy workshop.
    • Reggae band practice.
    • coffee and cocoa day – on the farm, picking, drying, roasting, tasting!!!!
    • ½ day harvesting coconuts & bamboo, then ½ day learning to make crafts with them.
    • OR choose any one of our community life activities
  • Day 14 : Depart for airport / ferry terminal.

The activities may be spread over a longer period of time to give you more free time in between activities. We are also happy to tailor make this package specifically to your requirements.

Saving the Amazon Rainforest in Peru…Amazon Yarapa River Lodge

I got an email today from Charles Mango of Amazon Yarapa River Lodge that I thought was well worth spreading the word about.  When I asked permission to post his email on my blog he sent me even more information about saving the Amazon Rainforest and his involvement in Peru.  He needs publicity to help his efforts, so please spread the word.  This is important stuff! Here’s what he wrote:

“Recently I have established the first conservation agreement in the Amazon area. This is the first effort of its kind in the Amazon basin. This includes the three villages along the Yarapa as well as the Dept. of Agriculture and INRENA. We now have the entire Yarapa from its mouth to the village of Puerto Miguel under this agreement. No commercial fishing or hunting, and no logging. Also, preservation of the riparian edge of the river and the local flora and fauna. This area runs both sides of the river from its mouth to the lands held by Puerto Miguel. This is about 35 miles or river.

In Feb. of this year the villages united were able to seize a shipment of illegal logs as well as arrest the loggers. This was the first time that villagers were able to stop illegal logging in the Amazon.They were supported be the Agriculture minister in their actions. To establish the legal right to defend their property, I first established titular title for the villages. In return I asked that we establish this Yarapa preserve as well as sign the agreement. This agreement was signed Jan. 10th, 2007 in the village of Puerto Miguel.

We are miles ahead of Brazil in trying to save the rainforest. Their recent article in National Geographic stated that they are trying to repopulate the Amazon with indigenous people in the hope that they would stop the loggers and poachers. If the government will support the local people at the expense of big money from the loggers was not answered. The people were removed from the land by or with government help to allow the logging industry to gain a foothold in the area. What I have done in Peru is to get the government and the people together as a force to protect the area. Unfortunately there has been no publicity about this project.”

His original email was to tell me about improvements in the lodge and a new educational laboratory center.  He wrote:

“We continue to actively work with the nearby villages and the government of Peru to ensure the growth of the Yarapa River Reserve.  Recently, we purchased the deeds to the land of the individual villages from the Peruvian government and gave it back to the villages for them to manage.  In return, the village chiefs have pledged to work with us to discourage commercial fishing, logging, and poaching.  In addition, the villages have recommitted their enthusiasm to work with INRENA (Peruvian parks department) to create and maintain a national park status reserve.

We continue to look for ways to improve our lodge.  We plan to add another solar panel system…we already are running about 90% solar and would like to make this as close to 100% as possible.  We are opening the Cornell University Esbaran laboratory to any university, college, or advanced high school that would like to come down for a research project or field trip.  Our laboratory director, Dr. Eloy Rodriguez, is now marketing the field lab as a wonderful facility in a world-class environment.  We pride ourselves on having the best guides in the area and continue to treat and respect our workers as we do our guests.”

Conservation and Ecotourism go hand in hand and kudos to Charles Mango for what he is doing in Peru.  Please spread the word!

Defining Ecotourism Lodging

I have been working on my directory for almost 4 years now.  My habit has been to look at each eco lodge on an individual basis to see whether I consider them as promoting sustainable tourism.  If I do, they get added to the directory.  I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t as discerning when I first started this directory and now need a way to go back and weed some of these lodges out.  I’m finally at a point where I think it would be beneficial to have some type of questionnaire for each lodge, more of a definition of what an eco lodge is. So, I need a quantifiable way to define ecotourism lodging.  I don’t want to re-invent the wheel, so I am looking at different websites and questionnaires.  I’d like something that can be quantified by a yes or no answer.  For example, do you have an organic garden?  Do you employ local staff?  Do you have local staff in management?  In this way I could have some kind of numbering system (actually I’m looking at a butterfly system, but that’s for another blog) where you get 1 point if you’re trying to be eco but haven’t quite suceeded and you’d get the top number of points if you’ve attained true eco lodging.

Green Globe 21 has an extensive evaluation process and I laud that, but for my purposes I need something simpler (and less expensive).  If you have any ideas of good questions that can be answered by a yes or no, please feel free to post them here or email them to me through my website http://www.eco-tropicalresorts.com.  Sorry, I didn’t want to put my email here as I’ve already got enough of a problem with spam!

Some of the yes/no questions might need further comments.  Like: Do you use alternative energy sources?  And then ask what kind they use.  Of course, one of my goals is to visit all the eco lodges on the directory to get a first hand view.  I’m a trusting soul and tend to believe lodges when they tell me that they practice sustainable travel, but once or twice another lodge in the same country has emailed me that they really didn’t.  That is very disappointing to me but enforces my desire to see first hand. 

My goal is to start with Mexico this winter.  I live in Northern California and Mexico will be the least expensive place for me to start.  There is a cluster of 3-5 eco lodges relatively close to each other.  I find this prospect really exciting as I learn more and more.  Of course, I will blog about each lodge as I visit them!