New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

achieved results that are now the benchmarks for other countries and organizations attempting to accomplish similar ameliorations in their natural environments. Scientists and program directors from nations all around the world visit New Zealand to study DOC’s methods and achievements. One other significant official act that has promoted DOC’s work and affected most directly the areas we were privileged to visit on this trip was the granting of the New Zealand Subantarctic Island World Heritage Site designation in 1998 by UNESCO. While this is the most significant global honor a site can receive, it confers no protection, monetary reward, or management for the area. The individual country wherein the site is located has all that responsibility. However, recently the World Heritage Site Convention has taken steps to withdraw the designation in cases where the site is exploited, reduced in size, despoiled or otherwise damaged. Such a step has been taken in Saudi Arabia and on Montserrat Island in the Caribbean among others. Of course the threat of embarrassment inherent in such a “punishment” is meant to encourage protection. Needless to say, New Zealand so zealously protects its environmental treasures that it is not under any threat of losing World Heritage Status. These Subantarctic Islands are so well protected that DOC allows only 600 tourist visits a year on each one of them. Tour companies must purchase these “tickets to visit paradise” from DOC, thus creating a source of income for the Department. Furthermore, even with the permission granted, visitors must be accompanied by a representative from DOC to insure that rules and regulations are followed. The rules cover such things as staying on designated trails, keeping appropriate distances from all creatures on the islands, disinfecting boots before stepping onto the island and when returning to the ship, carrying nothing onto the island such as food or drink or even backpacks. We were even instructed to check our clothing before returning to the ship to insure that we did not bring any “hangers on” back with us—like seeds or leaves or insects. They were very thorough indeed. Our DOC representative was a delightful lady but she never relaxed the rules for us, nor did we ask her to make any concessions. Before we ever left the ship the first time by zodiac, we were given an informational brochure covering DOC’s “minimum impact code” for the

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