Energy Blog: Sustainable Tourism in Tanzania

By Andy Silber

Ecotourism in Tanzania

I’m just back from a 2 week safari in Tanzania with my extended family. My mother, 2 brothers and our families made up half of an armada of Toyota Land Cruisers driving across the national parks of northern Tanzania. Safari is the Swahili word for long journey and anything that starts and ends with a 20-hour plane flight with a seven-year old counts. The first safari was in 1836 led by William Cornwallis Harris, though our trek was a bit shorter than his. Both trips did include shooting the animals, though our group didn’t eat what we shot, only shared the video and photos via Facebook and YouTube.

I used to think of ecotourism as a modern invention, but now I understand that the safari is the original ecotourism. We witnessed the tail end of the great migration of well over a million wildebeests, plus zebras and antelope. This migration is supported by an enormous amount of protected land: about one-quarter of Tanzania and 8% of Kenya. The land is not protected just because the people there love wilderness and animals; it’s protected because the safaris are the cornerstone of their economies. Whether it’s the high fees the government collects (about $50 US per person per day in Tanzania) or the overpriced trinkets we buy from the Maasai or the countless jobs as guides, cooks, and other support services, these parks bring a level of relative prosperity to a wide swath of the population in a sustainable fashion.

A good example of the jobs created is the driver/guides in our tour. These 5 men are well trained, fluent in English, and can spot a jaguar sleeping in a tree while driving a Land Cruiser down a bumpy dirt road at 40 km/h. They also provided us with a fairly honest view of the situation in Tanzania, which I greatly appreciated. These are good middle-class jobs, which pay enough for them to send their kids to a good private school (the government schools are thought to be pretty worthless).

The pressures to develop the land are enormous. There are tales of gold and other mineral deposits inside the parks. Corruption is common place and the people in power know that any mineral development in the area includes kickbacks to them. The Chinese are interested in investing in mining to feed their industrial development. Without the safaris it is hard to imagine that the land would remain protected and the great migration continue.

It was also interesting to see the small things at the lodges. Of the 5 places we stayed, 3 were seriously off-the-grid. Water was from a well (except in one case where the well came up dry the water is trucked in). Leaky toilets were commonplace and blamed on bad plumbing made in China (one lodge had high quality Spanish toilets). Four out of five establishments heated water primarily with solar power (the 5th used wood). One disappointment was that there was very little solar photovoltaic, instead the lodges relied on diesel generators. The power demands were kept quite low: mainly lighting and the recharging of a large number of cameras and cell phones. I was surprised at how many of these lodges had limited WiFi, though the speeds where slow and spotty.

I’m not saying that these tours have no impact. There’s the fuel to fly half-way around the world, and gas for the trucks and generators. Still, it’s hard to imagine how such a beautiful, unique and critical habitat would be protected otherwise. And seeing these animals in their natural setting has an impact on those of us viewing it that is incalculable, especially for the 13 kids on our trip.

Lowman Beach Pump Station Work Underway

King County contractors will be working at the County’s Murray Pump Station in Lowman Beach Park to replace the pump station’s wet well grating. The contractor will begin work the week of July 16. The project will take about a month to complete and will reduce access to the southeastern corner of Lowman Beach Park. Public access to the swing set, tennis court and beach will be maintained.

What to expect

  • Work hours typically  7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. weekdays.
  • More noise and activity at the site
  • Construction fencing and boom truck on site
  • Reduced access to southeastern corner of the park.
  • Three closed parking spaces on Beach Drive Southwest.

Why is the project necessary?

To protect public health and the environment

King County operates the Murray Pump Station to transport West Seattle’s sewage and storm water for treatment at the County treatment plant in Magnolia. The pump station keeps Puget Sound clean and prevents sewer spills into homes and streets.

To ensure worker safety

Corrosive gases from wastewater have damaged the grating above the pump station wet well over time. A new grate will allow County operations and maintenance staff to continue working safely in the pump station.

For more information contact Doug Marsano, Water Quality Planner, King County Wastewater Treatment Division, phone 206-684-1235 or email Doug Marsano

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Go Local with CropSwap -Trade & Barter; Buy & Sell

As we head into tomato and zucchini season, a new website has a way to help you get rid of those large amounts of excess produce in exchange for something you need.

Local start-up CropSwap created a website with the mission of connecting gardeners to trade and barter or even buy and sell the fruits of their labor online or on their smart phones.  You can visit, create an account and list plants, vegetables, bulbs, eggs… or even preserved goods (jam fresh baked goods or home brew anyone?) that you would like to trade and browse available items in your area.  After you find something you like, make an offer to another “CropSwapper”, who can counter, accept or deny.  After a deal has been made, you arrange a convenient time and place to make the trade.

Don’t have anything to trade? Offer cash to that neighbor with chicken eggs or the other with great looking tomatoes.  You can also opt to list your items for donation to local nonprofit organizations, like Sustainable West Seattle. Consider it a trade for good karma!

CropSwap makes going local and supporting sustainability within your community easier than ever.  Produce what you can… and then connect with others near you for the rest!


Learn more..and let them know what you think:

Parks Drops Plans for Lincoln Park Zip Lines

Seattle Parks withdraws Lincoln Park ropes course proposal.

Seattle Parks and Recreation has decided not to proceed with a proposal to build a five-to-six acre high ropes course in West Seattle’s Lincoln Park.

“We listened to the community, and though there is demand for this emerging form of recreation, there are some who clearly do not support it at this location,” said Acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams.

Low and high ropes courses are gaining in popularity worldwide, and they are among a number of emerging sports and other outdoor activities Parks and Recreation is working hard to accommodate.

The proposal for Lincoln Park was in the conceptual stages. Parks had just begun its public outreach process with contacts with the Camp Long Advisory Council, the Morgan Community Association, and the informal Friends of Lincoln Park, and had developed a full public involvement plan that included four more opportunities for input, one onsite. Parks had issued an Expression of Interest and had selected Go Ape based on their safety, park stewardship and operational history.

After the meeting with the Fauntleroy Community Association on July 10, Williams made the decision not to proceed with a high ropes course at Lincoln Park. Williams and Go Ape have not yet decided whether to proceed with a ropes course proposal at another site.


Community Grants for Playground Equipment Offered by National Non-profit KaBOOM!

KaBOOM!, a national non-profit aiming to create great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities, announced its Let’s Play Community Construction Grants.

The Dr Pepper Snapple Group and KaBOOM! are now offering grants for organizations to purchase playground equipment in accordance with the KaBOOM! community-build model.

Grantees will receive $15,000 to help acquire the playground equipment, as well as access to planning tools on the Our Dream Playground website, one-on-one planning support from KaBOOM! and post-build support from KaBOOM! alumni. Grantees are expected to share best practices and challenges through the Our Dream Playground website.

Applications are open to U.S. based municipalities, neighborhood associations, schools, day care center, and nonprofit organizations without a playground or with unsafe play equipment. Applicants must own the land or possess a long-term lease and have permission from the land owner to build a playground.

KaBOOM! is specifically looking for communities with a demonstrated need for a playground, as well as the project’s impact on the area and its capacity to engage the community.

Applications are due July 20. For more information and to apply, go to the KaBOOM! webpage.

Judy de Barros
Program Consultant
Neighbor to Neighbor, a Small Grants Program at The Seattle Foundation
1200 Fifth Ave. Suite 1300
Seattle, WA 98101
206 234 2456 (cell)


Sustainable West Seattle @ Farmers Market this Sunday

Visit the Sustainable West Seattle booth at the West Seattle Farmers Market this Sunday, September 2.

Also bring your tools to donate to the West Seattle Tool Library.

We also have the West Seattle Walking Trails map and the South Park, White Center and Central District walking maps.

We’re here to help you with your questions about being more sustainable, about being a bit more green, and we’re here to take your left-over or under-used tools for the West Seattle Tool Library.

We also have the latest information on the many projects SWS members are involved with, including Permaculture and the Sustainable Film Series.  Concerned about earthquakes?  We have information on Emergency Preparedness here in West Seattle, as well as other community info from partners like CoolMom.

We’re tabling at the Farmers Market and working with the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance folks to keep a non-profit and green presence in the Market area.

If anyone is interested in tabling, drop by and leave your name and contact information and we’ll be happy to schedule you for a shift.  This is a great way to meet your fellow West Seattleites and a great way to make a better acquaintance with the farmers and producers who help keep the West Seattle Farmers Market such a great place to shop healthy and local.

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