Scars in the Landscape
On land, we encounter another ecological disaster when we seek shelter from the strong wind in the large Baie de Prony. As we enter the bay, we notice stretches of bare, red earth on shore. We pass one of New Caledonia’s remaining mines, where nickel is mined day and night. “The land is literally being looted here,” Ivar sighs. We drop anchor and explore the area on foot. We can now see the scars in the landscape up close. The tell a horrific story. First, all the trees were cut down. Then, large tracts of land were excavated for mining. The tropical rain showers have washed away all the fertile soil, exposing the solid, red rock underneath. To prevent further erosion, shrubs and trees have been planted in designated areas. It is the beginning of ecosystem recovery. At the same time, we realize that decreasing the human urge for stuff and increasing our recycling efforts would be a more structural solution to prevent the destruction of nature. We wonder what the island looked like before the Europeans arrived?