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Disappearing Destinations
(Vintage Books) ISBN 978-0307277367 0307277364

This travel book motivates visitors to preserve the environment and avoid destroying habitats with overuse. It describes 37 global destinations that are on the brink of being destroyed by human impact and climate change.

Straightforward and matter of fact, without hysterics, this conservation book makes it clear that humanity is gradually destroying the environment. Disappearing Destinations motivates readers to discover the history of Timbuktu, to climb Kilimanjaro to see the snow and glaciers and to experience the tropical rainforests of the Amazon and the Congo, before they are lost.

Sustainable travel

Arranged by continents and geographic regions, this 384-page sustainable travel book describes destinations and the problems that are destroying them. When possible, it offers solutions to save the disappearing destinations. For example, on low-lying islands like Tuvalu and the Maldives, there is little that locals can do to prevent destruction from rising sea levels due to global warming, but on Mount Everest, climbing teams should retrieve waste littering the mountain.

This environmental book discusses the hard decisions that need to be made about oil extraction from the North Shore of Alaska because of the environmental impact of disastrous accidents.

Endangered places

A simple one-page B&W map, at the beginning of each chapter, locates endangered places. Small B&W images illustrate the disappearing destination.

An introduction by Pico Iyer discusses his experience with places that are disappearing due to "human neglect or corruption or greed," such as Kathmandu, Angkor and Lhasa, Tibet.

Preserving ecosystems

West Caicos, in the Turks & Caicos Islands, is an example of a planned, sustainable development solution to the problem of small island ecosystems destruction. It includes boardwalks over dunes, battery-powered carts, restoration of historical sites such as Yankee Town, reintroduction of rock iguanas and the use of landfill instead of garbage incinerators. As part of the plan, 90 per cent of the island remains untouched for a decade or more.

An appendix provides addresses, phone numbers and websites for responsible travel resources including: Green Globe 21, Planeta.com and Sustainable Travel International. A second appendix provides contact information for regional advocacy organizations. Listed by country, they include: Wildlife Conservation Society for the Congo, WWF Nepal Program for Everest National Park and the Climate Institute for Mount Kilimanjaro.

Wildlife conservation

The Congo Basin, Central Africa, is the home of western lowland gorillas. Wildlife Conservation Society studies in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, in northern Republic of Congo, document the 'great apes' in their rapidly disappearing rainforest habitat. Unlike its neighbour, nearby war-scarred Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), few western tourists go to Republic of Congo to see gorillas. Conservation and U.N. organizations promote sustainable development in the Congo and compete with commercial logging, oil and mining companies as well as poachers hunting for bushmeat.

Playa de las Americas, on the west coast of Tenerife, Canary Islands, is a beach built from sand hauled by barge from the Sahara desert. Tenerife is heavily populated and overdeveloped for tourism, resulting in ecosystem habitat destruction and extinction of flora species. Other Canary islands, like El Hierro and La Gomera, protect their woodlands and rare birds with reduced tourism infrastructure and restricted commercial resort development.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), in northeast Alaska, is home to the Porcupine Caribou herd with 50,000 to 80,000 animals. The size of North Carolina, ANWR is an entirely roadless, pristine 19.6-million acre wilderness. Besides 45 mammal species, including muskox, Dall sheep, polar bears, lynx and hundreds of thousands of caribou, the region includes minerals and up to 10 billion barrels of oil. Subject to much political debate, especially after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, US federal legislators treat the ANWR region as a wilderness, much to the chagrin of the indigenous Native American Inupiat who call it home. Their southern neighbors, the Gwich'in, are also linked to the migrating caribou herds that are endangered by petroleum development in the wildlife refuge.

Disappearing Destinations


Foreword by Pico Iyer
  • North America
    • United States
      • Appalachia
      • Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
      • The Cascades and Mount Rainier, Washington
      • Casco Bay, Maine
      • The Everglades, Florida
      • Glacier National Park, Montana
      • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
      • Inner and Outer Banks, North Carolina
      • Napa Valley, California
      • Oahu, Hawaii
      • The Rio Grande
      • Yellowstone National Park
    • Canada
      • Banks Island, Northwest Territories
      • Hudson Bay, Manitoba and Nunavut
      • Inside Passage, British Columbia
  • The Caribbean
    • Bioluminescent Bays, Puerto Rico
    • Roatan, Honduras
    • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • South America
    • Amazon Basin
    • Aysén, Patagonia, Chile
    • Chacaltaya, Bolivia
    • Galapagos, Ecuador
    • Machu Picchu, Peru
  • Europe & the Middle East
    • The Alps
    • Boreal Forest, Lapland, Finland
    • Canary Islands, Spain
    • Danube River and Delta
    • Dead Sea, Israel and Jordan
    • Venice, Italy
  • Africa
    • Congo Basin, Central Africa
    • Maasailand, Kenya
    • Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
    • Timbuktu, Mali
  • Asia, Pacific Islands and Australia
    • Everest National Park, Nepal
    • Tuvalu and Maldives
    • Yangtze River Valley, China
    • Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  • Appendix A: Responsible Travel Resources
  • Appendix B: Regional Advocacy Organizations


Kimberly Lisagor and Heather Hansen

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