Decompressing this trip and it’s many of layers will take time. It was physical as well as mental and emotional. I decided to break each post up into it’s own portion of the trip.
Part I: The purpose of the trip:
The Canary Islands, and particularly Tenerife, the island explored on this trip, provide a microcosm of environmental issues. Where the U.S. or other western European countries suffer from a plethora of environmental problems, many of our issues are spread apart. For instance, waste management issues on the population dense Eastern Coast of the United States are thousands of miles away from the energy issues of the Western Rocky Mountains. On Tenerife these environmental issues stack on top of each other in an area the size of the state of Rhode Island.
In 8 days our small group from the University of Wyoming studied a variety of these issues, thinking about the cause of each issue, the influence, and the reach. All of this lead to understanding how the EU policies can shape and determine solutions to these problems.
The following is an abbreviated list of our trip and the issues.
1. Agriculture-Banana plantations, steppe farming, and goat farms.
Despite the vast amount of agriculture on the island, the majority of food grown here is exported and an even greater imported to provide food for the high population. The three largest foods grown on the island are tomatos, bananas, and potatoes.
2. Ecology: The Anaga Protected Area, The Pine Forest, Volcanic National Parks, and Deserts/beaches
This trip allowed me to gain an enormous appreciation and respect for the ecological biodiversity of the island. In a small space, the topography, geology and fauna changed starkly. Many of these areas formed naturally such as the volcanic national park, however others, like the pine forest, suffer from a multitude of invasive species issues.
3. Population Density: Water issues, zoning, and the economic crises of Spain
Pinpointing one source of the environmental issues proves difficult, as a myriad of sources prevail- from lack of education, to culture norms, and of course the historic and political nature of the island. Studying the issues of this island and understanding potential sources, opens avenues of discourse for similar issues in other countries. At the same time, learning about the European Union environmental policies to control and prevent future environmental concerns, allows for dialogue into the United States policies as well as how international policy can be applied and improved.
Have you ever studied abroad? Before this I had studied abroad nine years ago in my undergrad. I went to Salzburg College in Salzburg, Austria and was able to backpack all around Europe. Before that I spent two weeks in Ireland in High School.
What was the most interesting fact learned while on vacation or on a study abroad trip? This trip left my head whirling with new knowledge and an immense appreciation and respect for some of the environmental issues that other countries deal with.