Sustainable Tourism: Cuna del Alma

In collaboration with:

Dr Steven Godby, Nottingham Trent University.
Fernando Borrás Castelló, Drones4Geology.
Marcus Chaknova, University of Oregon Marine Biology and Earth Science

For decades the tourism model in the Canary Islands has relied on attracting an ever-increasing number of tourists. This is unsustainable in a fragile biodiversity hotspot where glorious natural resources and endemic wildlife are coming under increasing strain.

Local activists are becoming vociferous in their rejection of luxury developments destroying some of the last vestiges of the natural environment on the coast of the Canary Islands, and have come up against fierce opposition from developers.

We believe it is time to rethink the old development model.

There is a luxury development in the south of Tenerife called Cuna del Alma that proposes to modify one of the very last remaining natural spaces in the south of the island. It is an area that displays a rich range of endemic, geological and marine features that we believe are worth preserving and not cementing over. The tourist project is currently paused, as local activists have protested that not enough is known about this spectacular natural environment and more research is required in order to ascertain whether it should be fully protected.

In 2022 we started researching the area in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University and our MarineSciCamp students to document the coastal and marine environments and the potential impacts of the project. This summer we aim to deepen our research to produce a wide-ranging report on the area, cataloguing the natural environment in detail.

GeoInterns on programme D will collaborate in a geological 3D drone survey and a geological and vegetation assessment of the region.

The research findings will be published on VolcanoStories and presented to the authorities as part of our commitment to facilitate a step-shift in sensitivities and help to safeguard this iconic location.

If construction goes ahead, we will continue to document the development to report on the real impacts of the resort to ensure each micro and macro-aggression against the environment on this island no longer goes undocumented or unknown in the hope of pushing for real change in the future. Each student will be responsible for an aspect of the project, of which a summary will be published in VolcanoStories with a view to publishing a paper in future.

Dr Steven Godby is a Principal Lecturer in Geography at Nottingham Trent University and manages the geography and environmental science courses in the Department of Environmental Sciences.  He teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students and leads the following modules:

  • Natural Hazards and Disasters
  • Drylands
  • Geographical Politics, Issues and Ethics

Steven led an NTU Geography field trip to Tenerife with GeoTenerife in December 2022 and his students researched many of the impacts of the proposed Cuna del Alma resort, which we hope to build on and deepen this summer.

Marcus Chaknova of the University of Oregon lead the start of our new research project during MarineSciCamp 2022, researching the potential marine impact of the proposed Cuna del Alma resort, and will be on-island with you to push it forwards. Marcus was the lead geologist in Tongan Waters that worked onboard R/V Alvin on the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai eruption; he is a research scientist with the Oceans First Institute.