Nestled high in the “Pyrénées Mountains on the French-Spanish border,” (Infoplease, 2005) Andorra boasts of being a mountain wonderland for all who come to visit. Especially with reference to the well-known tourist destination of Naturlandia in the small parish of Sant Julià de Lòria.
Naturalandia is considered an “eco-friendly mountain theme park” (Rural, 2009) that is fun-filled for the entire family. Trekking, Nordic walking, horseback riding, archery, paintball, climbing and the Tobotronic Alpine coaster are only a handful of the activities available for tourists during the summer months. In winter, Naturalandia switches gears to include options such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, dog sledding, snow quads and ice skating. In skimming the information on the front page of the main website, it becomes quickly apparent as to why this destination hotspot is so popular in Andorra. Complete bonus to know it also claims to be eco-friendly.
But that’s all it does – claims. There is no information anywhere on their website to indicate what it is about their park that deems it to actually be eco-friendly. Other than swift hints to tell potential customers that their activities are “environmentally friendly” (Naturlandia), there is no notice of how. No section to talk of what it is they do to prevent damage to the environment they are so widely using. No mention of how they consider quad bikes or caterpillar vehicles environmentally friendly other than to state that they are “totally respecting the environment” (Naturalandia). Whatever that means.
I mean – great, they have this amazing theme park set in a gorgeous natural setting of the mountains. Brilliant that there so many activities to choose from and awesome that their website is a one-stop-shop for what to do, where to stay and what to eat. But I find it a bit disturbing that they are able to fill people’s minds with the idea that their park is eco-friendly and good to the environment when they have no mention of any effort their company is putting forward to actually be such a thing whilst thousands of people stamp their footprints all over the nature they are supposedly protecting.
They even have group packages and options for schools wishing to book for team building and educational activities. But even within this there is no mention of any sort of eco-friendly tools being used. How is the next generation going to learn all the cool and really simple ways of truly respecting the environment they live in if a place such as Naturlandia is not going to take the opportunity to step up and show them how?
Sure – maybe I am missing something here. There very well might have been something lost in the translation of the website – but one would think that any company aiming to claim to helping the environment would ensure that they back up their statements. Because if they are able to be considered environmentally friendly for what they do (or in this case – don’t) – then every beach of the world is environmentally friendly because it is nature and it is there. No matter that the water is polluted by an oil spill and the local resort doesn’t take the time to ensure rubbish is picked up from the sand. It’s nature – must be eco-friendly.
And what about all the campgrounds around the world that have a patch of grass to pitch a tent on? They must be environmentally friendly too. The grass is green – maybe a little over green due to the chemical fertilizer – but hey – it’s alive. That’s all that counts right?
Does that mean that every office that has a plant in a cubicle can slap the label eco-friendly on their front door? Even if they don’t recycle their paper and upgrade their computers every other year?
What is it that makes one company eco-friendly, environmentally friendly or otherwise? How is it that those labels have become so easy to throw around and that people of this world are so eager to buy into it? Just because there is a green stamp on it or a word that sounds as though that product, that company, that person loves the world – doesn’t make it true.
When planning a “green” holiday – take care. A friend once told me a story of how he and his wife opted for an eco-friendly jet boat ride during their travels. They got to talking to the driver and asked him how he managed to make his business “eco-friendly.” He replied to state that he no longer does three tours-a-day – now he does just two. Is that really the type of standard we want to evoke for our environment today? I think we can do so much better than that. It’s time we wake up and take a stand for what we truly want our world to be. It’s as Ghandi once said:
Be the change you want to see in the world.
To visit Naturlandia’s website – check out: http://www.naturlandia.ad/en/hivern/index.aspx
Infoplease, 2005, Andorra. Retrieved online on January 17, 2012 from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107276.html
Naturlandia, Meet the Eco-Park. Retrieved online on January 17, 2012 from: http://naturlandia.ad/en/hivern/coneix_eco_parc.aspx
Rural Pyrenees Guide, 2009, Andorra Parks and Natural Highlights. Retrieved online on January 17, 2012 from: http://www.rural-pyrenees-guide.com/andorra-parks.html