Parks Beyond Borders: American And Irish Parks For Australians, More Funds For World Biodiversity

Australians' Options For Global Park Gallivanting

Visiting national parks “beyond borders” doesn’t just mean Americans heading overseas. Case in point—under the guise of the “Tripologist,” The Sydney Morning Herald's travel columnist Michael Gebicki’s latest column offers some good suggestions for Australians seeking out national park adventures in the United States and Ireland.

One local inquisitor asked him about how to turn a two week visit to the United States into an opportunity to visit America’s great national parks.

G. Grant, of Hurlstone Park wrote that he was “going to Las Vegas in early April and would then like to go on an interesting tour for about two weeks. We don't want to rough it and prefer nature over cities.” They were interested in Yellowstone, but “don't feel comfortable driving on the wrong side of the road so a self-drive tour is out of the question.” They confessed they were interested in organized tours to US parks but couldn’t “find much on the internet in the way of tours.”

The Tripologist made a suggestion that other Australians might consider. “Globus's Exploring America's Great Parks might be what you're after,” Gebicki said. “This 15-day tour takes in most of the outstanding national parks of America's western states, including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. This tour begins and ends in Las Vegas. Another option is Globus's 11-day Enchanting Canyonlands tour, which covers a smaller area and excludes Yellowstone.”

A lot of Aussies end up in Las Vegas, and the writer rightly suggested “the many short tours that take in only the Grand Canyon” and have Vegas as the launch. He also made another good point—consider another destination besides Sin City. “If you were to begin your travels from Phoenix in Arizona, Grand Junction in Colorado, from San Francisco or Los Angeles, you have a much wider choice from some really excellent operators, including Trafalgar and Tauck.”

The inclination of course is to look for local for tour operators in your own country, but there are operators in the United States as well.

On to Ireland

For folks from Oz who don’t want to drive on the “wrong side of the road,” that is, they want to keep driving on the left, another questioner asked about Ireland. Without doubt the Emerald Isle is a super destination for national park seekers.

A C. Hingston, of Eastwood, asked Gebicki about diverse “places to base ourselves” on a two week irish jig with his wife and another couple. He also asked, “Do you have any thoughts about ... what you consider must-sees for Ireland?”

The questioner seemed intent on taking on the island north and south, but Gebicki offered a better idea—consider east and west.

“In the east,” Gebicki suggested “a few days in Dublin or, better still, Dun Laoghaire on the coast just south of Dublin. This would put you within easy reach of the capital and towns in the south-east, such as Kilkenny and Waterford.” That also offer great access to the Wicklow Mountains National Park.

“From there,” Gebicki said, “you could drive to the west coast and base yourself in Killarney, which would give you a base for exploring the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula. Then head north to Galway, from where you have easy access to Connemara, the Aran Isles, Cliffs of Moher and the Burren.” And of course, that route also offers Killarney National Park and Connemara National Park, among others.

Take if from the Traveler's travel editor, this plan is an awesome itinerary and amounts to one of the world's great national park adventures.

Gebicki counsels that, “one of the virtues of travelling in Ireland is that even a short drive will take you into a completely different landscape. Basing yourself in three locations in 10 days would be an excellent choice.”

That is indeed true—but for Americans and others, those motor tours do come with the challenge of driving on the “real” wrong side of the road!

Convention of Biodiversity To Better Fund Biodiversity

According to a story posted yesterday on DW, Deutsche Welle, Germany’s global media broadcaster, “Poor countries are to get a doubling of annual funding to slow species extinction by fostering national parks and sustainable land usage. The deal was reached at a UN biodiversity conference in India.”

The Convention of Biodiversity (CBD) conference expects to grow funding by about “7.7 billion euros ($10 billion), mainly from European countries,” to counter a grim global picture painted by the The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). That group has stated, said the article, “that a quarter of the world's mammals, 13 percent of birds, 41 percent of amphibians and 33 percent of reef-building corals are now at risk of extinction.”

Yesterday’s final day of a two-week conference in Hyderabad “requires at least 75 percent of recipient poor countries to report on their spending by 2015 and to draw up national biodiversity plans.”

The funding plan represents the world’s current financial crisis in that China, Australia. Japan, Canada and Brazil all expressed fears that the amounts pledged were too much given the current economy.

Countering that, the “WWF's conservation chief Lasse Gustavsson said ‘the deal reached on financing... is a disappointing result, because it is not nearly enough money to reach the ambitious targets to protect biodiversity the world set two years ago.’"

"‘In the context of the financial crisis, this is a good deal,' French Environment Minister Delphine Batho said.”

Despite the increase, the article said the sum, “is still vastly short of the 115 to 330 billion euros which an expert panel said was needed to slow habitat loss and meet goals set at a similar conference in Japan two years ago.”

The piece reported that the "Hyderabad conference awarded the next CBD meeting in 2014 to South Korea, where the focus will be on protecting the world's largely unregulated oceans."