The International Dark-Sky Association have bestowed a world-first title on the South Pacific nation of Niue. They have become the first nation to be declared a Dark Sky Place.
The Association is a conservation non-profit that aims to preserve the natural state of night-time darkness. They are against the current state of light pollution globally, which they consider an intrusive disturbance.
International Dark Sky Places are areas recognised for responsible lighting policies that keep the night-time environment naturally dark.
“The people of Niue are understandably proud and delighted to receive such an important acknowledgement from the International Dark-Sky Association,” said Niue Tourism CEO Felicity Bollen in a statement.
“To be the first whole country to become a dark sky nation is a massive accomplishment for a small Pacific nation with a population of just over 1,600.”
Niue is a standalone island found around 2,400 km northeast of New Zealand.
To achieve the goal of becoming a dark sky nation, the island’s government undertook several measures including “full streetlight replacement for the entire island and the upgrading of domestic private lighting”.
The Niue are especially dedicated to removing unnecessary light pollution because of their long history of star navigation and life regulated by lunar cycles and star positions.
“Niue’s skies have been observed and appreciated for centuries. The dark sky nation status adds new emphasis to the importance of our traditional knowledge, providing a reason for the retelling and sharing of this knowledge before it is lost,” said Misa Kalutea, a Niuean elder and cultural guardian.
The Association has bestowed the title to other sites including parks and reserves but never an entire nation before.
Artificial lights at night have been known to contribute negatively to the health of communities, despite creating safer areas and reducing accidents.
Image: International Dark-Sky Association