Silent Parks Offer Peaceful Leisure
It's estimated that 90% of American children will never experience natural silence, while 97% of people in the US are regularly exposed to traffic sound pollution (US Department of Transportation, 2017). Looking to offer a solution, American acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton has proposed the implementation of 'quiet parks'.
His project, called Quiet Parks International, aims to identify the quietest places on earth – completely free from human-made sound – and protect them for future generations to enjoy. These areas are then designated as quiet parks, where limited numbers of visitors can go to seek peace and silence.
The first of these parks was established in April 2019 in Zabalo, Ecuador. Indigenous local people, the Cofán, are using the status to protect their land from oil and mining companies and establish a sustainable eco-tourism business, according to online publication Tree Hugger.
Hempton told the site that to protect the silent status, "before visiting the park [as a tourist], you'd be instructed about what quiet means – how to notice, what makes this sonic environment so different, how sound behaves, what listening means. Most adults have forgotten how to listen correctly."
The project is similar to the International Dark Sky Association, which fights for areas with zero light pollution.
These parks would be attractive to a growing number of eco-minded travellers looking to get away from the noise and digital distraction of everyday life – as discussed in Ethical Travel's Mainstream Breakthrough, Travel for the Agile Elite and Youth Leisure Focus: Camping.