Archive for December 14th, 2014

Nature Ramble

When we find something marvelous and beautiful, why do we have to exploit it to destruction?

World’s largest cave in Vietnam threatened by cable car

Vietnamese are protesting plans to build a cable car through remote Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park that could carry 1,000 visitors an hour to Son Doong cave

A planned 10.6km cable car route would connect Son Doong Cave with other caves in the area as part of a planned “tourism, service and resort complex”. Photograph: Carsten Peter/NG/Getty Images

Plans for a cable car in Vietnam’s Unesco-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park would open up the world’s largest cave to mass tourism. But Vietnamese are protesting the project, and experts warn the environmental impact could be devastating.

Quang Binh province announced in October that resort developer Sun Group would build a $212m (£135m) cable car system through the national park, which occupies a remote, mountainous swathe of central Vietnam. The 10.6km route would connect Son Doong Cave, so large it could house an entire 40-story building, with other caves in the area as part of a planned “tourism, service and resort complex”.

According to local official Nguyen Huu Hoai, the cable car would carry 1,000 visitors per hour.

After the announcement drew an unprecedented flood of opposition, the national tourism ministry made clear that it had not yet approved the project. Experts from overseas slammed the plan in local newspaper and TV reports, while Vietnamese activist Bao Nguyen launched an online petition that drew thousands of signatures. However, the tourism ministry then gave the go-ahead for a preliminary survey – a tentative nod of consent.

Sun Group claims the cable car would be the most environmentally friendly means of opening the area to tourism. Company spokesperson Quach Bao Tran also said the project would “develop Quang Binh as a tourism center” and bring “thousands of jobs for the poor local people”. But experts refute these claims.

“The environmental impact would be devastating,” said Andy McKenzie, one of the first explorers to visit the cave.

Source: TheGuardian Read more

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