Join us September 26 at the “Ecotourism and Protected Area” Round Table at the Northern Sustainable Development Forum in Yakutsk!

The Northern Forum has invited LT&C for its upcoming  Northern Sustainable Development Forum to co-organise a roundtable discussion on “Ecotourism and Protected Areas”. The event is taking place September 24-28 in Yakutsk, Sakha Republic, Russia. The Forum seeks to become one of the world’s leading platforms for discussing the issues and prospects of sustainable development of the Arctic and the North and implementing relevant projects on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development throughout the circumpolar Arctic.

If you are interested in sustainable tourism and protected areas in the Arctic or plan any own activities in particular in the Russian Arctic you should not miss this event.

Have a look at the latest agenda of the entire Forum and the one of the Round Table:

As the Northern Forum Secretariat informed us, there is still a last-minute chance to register for the event. You best immediately go to their website and send in the application form.

In case you are in particular interested to join the roundtable on “Ecotourism and protected areas” and have own ideas for the content or what you would like to present yourself you may contact

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Aspiring videographer George Podaras on his cycling initiative “Africa: Cape to Cape”

Aspiring videographer, cyclist and member of LT&C, George Podaras takes on an exciting journey across Africa to document how tourism benefits nature conservation in National Parks within the continent. On his way, he will pass several members and LT&C-Examples, which he will make part of a mini-series, shared on LT&C’s social media and his website.

If you would like to support George’s mission, you are welcome to donate to a selected african conservation organisation on his GoFundMe page, or follow him on Strava.

In this small interview, we asked him about his goals and ambitions and what his project is all about:

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am originally from Greece but born in London . Because of my mother’s job in government I grew up between the UK. Cyprus and the UAE. I eventually moved back to the UK for university and ended up working as a videographer in Oxford. This is where I really got into cycling. On a dare I cycled on an old single gear Raleigh bicycle from Southampton to Oxford and realised how much I loved the experience, so eventually decided to cycle the entire country. I ended up doing a lot of these challenges, including North Greece to South Greece, circulating Iceland, across the Persian Gulf and back, London to Paris, around Lake Ontario on a fold up bike and so on. After completing all these challenges the idea of Africa grew and grew to the point I couldn’t ignore it anymore and committed myself to prepare for cycling it.

What is your project Africa: Cape to Cape all about?
I want to cycle from the most southern part of Africa, Cape Agulhus in South Africa to the most northern, Cape Bon in Tunisia, covering the two ends of Africa and passing through Namibia, Botsawana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and Libya in between.

Starting Point: Cape Agulhus, Photo: George Podaras

What is the goal of this trip?
I want to experience the continent of Africa for the first time at my own pace and my own navigation. Using a 360 camera I will develop digital maps of undocumented routes. As a videographer I want to develop my own footage of wildlife and landscapes and use it to promote LT&C.
I aim to document as many national parks as possible in order to highlight conservation efforts sustained with tourism by spreading their story and help raise donations for these projects. LT&C is committed to support the creation of a network of protected areas in order to support this goal. Its a wonderful project and an important organisation in regards of promoting sustainable tourism.

What is your connection with LT&C?
I was introduced to LT&C through a friend of mine. They were very interested in my bike ride and thought it to be a great opportunity to partner up. I am passing through many LT&C examples and as a proud member, otherwise known as a penguin, I hope to recruit more along my way.

Shipwreck at Cape Agulhus, Photo: George Podaras

What are your personal ambitions regarding this trip?
I love cycling with my own itinerary and want to experience the ultimate freedom of exploration before it becomes more and more limited. This is why I am invested in collaborating with LT&C who see the vitality of preserving national parks as the human population is only growing and space for wildlife is becoming threatened.

Is there a message you would like to get across with this project?
To be perfectly honest I was never one to dictate messages to anyone. I am not doing this for any specific statement, but if there is something to take from this is to appreciate the wonderful playground our planet has given us and to nurture it.

Seals at the cape whale coast, Photo: George Podaras

Climate, Biodiversity and the Raet national park were high on the agenda of this years’ Arendalsuka

Arendalsuka last week, as a national annual event, has continued to be the largest political gathering in Norway. With more than 1200 different events it has been larger than ever. With its mission to strengthen the belief in political empowerment and democracy through open debate and involvement, it covers every year a high diversity of different topics.  This time climate and biodiversity were among the most debated.    

That young people are pushing and urging their elders in various political parties, became quite obvious in several panel debates. One of these was organised within the programme of GRID-Arendal’s 30 years‘ anniversary celebrations. Teenagers representing different parties’ youth organisations competed wether which has the best climate and biodiversity policy.

“Battle about space” (Kampen om Arealene) was an important topic amongst representatives of conservation-, tourism- and business organisations. Reference was frequently made to the IPBES report from earlier this year as well as to the recent IPCC report. It is increasingly understood that nature needs more space and that climate- and biodiversity protection are equally important.

Concrete demonstration what can be done locally for the protection of our natural environment, was demonstrated during several excursions with S/S Solrik into the marine national park “Raet” just outside Arendal. Great advantage is to have the Flødeviken Research Station of the Norwegian Marine Research Institute in Arendal explaining the high importance to protect e.g. the seagrass or kelp forest habitats. In a Raet national park panel debate on the same sail ship, they could convincingly argue for larger no-fishing zones as they have long experience with such reserves for lobsters. In the same panel, the representative of Naturvernforbundet (the Norwegian Friends of the Earth association) explained very well the key role national parks should play within the global challenge to protect biodiversity. LT&C, therefore, brought forward its vision that local tourism business may play a supportive role to make Raet the best marine national park in Norway by developing it towards international standards (which most Norwegian national parks have not yet met). More educative involvement of visitors, employing rangers, boat traffic regulations including “silent zones”, banning specific fishing gear such as gillnets, increasing no-fishing zones and facing out any waterfowl and marine mammal hunting would need to be implemented to reach the international criteria of a national park.

Update on increasing initiatives and activities of RED ROCKS in Rwanda and neighbouring​ countries

Greg Bakunzi, our emperor penguin member, and owner of Amahoro Tours, provided us with the following update on his charity engagement with RED ROCKS, which we would like to share with you:

Red Rocks Initiatives for Sustainable development (RRISD) have scaled up our conservationist approach by engaging and forging mutually beneficial partnerships with conservation professionals and community development organizations to provide specialist input required to operate in a truly impactful way. The model employed by RRISD is based on a pragmatic ripple effect approach generating a multiplier effect in 30 communities in which it operates. Surplus income, produced through its ecotourism operations, enables workers and/or their family members to start up their own small businesses or pass on income to other community members by buying local goods, paying for childcare and other services. The value chain generated through RRISD’s operation has become stronger year by year with approximately 30 community members being directly positively impacted upon.

In addition to this, RRISD’s partnership with the IGIHOHO SUPPORT COOPERATIVE program promotes sustainable forest management, balancing social, environmental and economic concerns to meet today’s needs (i.e. agricultural and logging), while guaranteeing the survival of local forests for future generations.

Involving and supporting local communities makes them engaging in conservation and supporting protection measures, e.g. of the region’s iconic species, the mountain gorilla. Photo: Peter Prokosch

Another example includes RRISD’s collaborations with local visual artists and an art gallery in Kinigi, which has become a hub for Musanze’s tourism industry and Rwanda in general by sensitizing audiences about conservation and tourism through art classes and artists’ artwork aimed at promoting environmental protection for the survival of endangered animal and plant species.

Of similar importance is the work of RRISD with the Botanical Gardens around Volcanoes National Parks, where RRISD is involved in protecting indigenous plant species, particularly those used for traditional medicine and healing. In addition to this, RRISD is involved in encouraging and supporting families to grow nutritious foods in their backyards, sensitizing the local community about the benefits of nutritious foods, providing them with vegetable seeds to grow as well as small livestock’s, such as sheep, goat and local chicken.

In 2017, RRISD joined forces with Kahuzi-Biega Community ConservationTrust in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to identify mutually beneficial and inclusive ways to harness Tourism, Conservation and Sustainable Community Development in and around Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Under the Karibu Community Conservation Trust Fund, the mentioned partnership aims to bring together
conservationists, nature lovers and other environmental management patrons. Together they get engaged in comprehensive studies of the primates found in the park, which includes the Lowland gorillas as well as other primates.

RRISD strongly believe in the paramount importance of empowering local communities through education and entrepreneurship, which have proved to go hand in hand with the conservation of the natural environment. RRISD’s experience has proved that where and when local communities have been enabled to gain (directly or indirectly) from thriving tourism in their backyards, they become key in protecting their
environment and move away from illegal activities like poaching or logging in protected areas, which are activities deeply rooted in histories of rural poverty and marginalization, often leading to irreversible threats to many species, including the iconic mountain gorillas.

When I started in 2002 Amahoro tours, I got the idea of promoting tourism after establishing a community eco-tourism association. I met with international tour operators who assisted in sending clients into Rwanda. I with my team do all the ground handling of tourism-related services, ranging from booking rooms at hotels and lodges, booking gorilla permits, offering airport shuttle services and car hire services at very low rates. Thus we gained more clients and increased sales. Thereafter I thought of the idea of linking tourism, conservation and community developments projects. It is in this regard I established Red Rocks as an intercultural center. My vision was to bring together tourism, community and conservation, by supporting training, capacity building, environmental protection, nature conservation, and promotion of good practice and preservation of our cultural heritage. The community should benefit through tourism activities and enhance the conservation process of the mountain gorillas. Red Rocks has always been an active marketplace for locals to showcase their talents to culturally inquisitive visitors. We develop programmes to encourage community members to learn a diverse range of skills, from basketry, weaving, pottery and traditional Intore dancing. While these programmes offer tourists a unique insight into traditional Rwandan life and heritage, they are also an important means for local families to improve their living standards.

As I earlier stated, Amahoro Tours as a well-established tour company specializing in eco-tourism and community-based tourism in Rwanda, brought up the idea of establishing Red Rocks, so any client who books a tour with Amahoro tours is encouraged to also do the community-based activities. In turn, community members at Red Rocks get a share of tourism in Rwanda. This leads to that they get involved in the conservation of our environment and the mountain gorillas. Amahoro tours clients usually visit Red Rocks and do the community tours thus they support the idea at Red Rocks to connect tourism and community development programs for sustainable development of the population residing on the slopes of the volcanoes national park. At Red Rocks we offer budget accommodation to our clients and make sure they get a different cultural experience while in Rwanda.

RRISD is a nonprofit organization with its own statues and is sustained by both Amahoro Tours and Red Rocks Intercultural center. Clients who visit Rwanda through both companies usually get a chance to visit our initiatives and if interested they partner with us to make the initiatives a success. Our organization does not only provide an opportunity for travellers to volunteer in Africa ’s most coveted
destinations but also provides invaluable research opportunities for academia, which include fellowship placements with sustainable-focused projects across Africa, providing opportunities for hands-on learning and service. We make students and young professionals learn about critical environmental issues and they contribute to creating solutions across Africa. Our initiatives bring under-served communities into the tourism supply chain and support community development projects that help people to help themselves. This way they become aware of conserving the environment and the mountain gorillas and their habitat.

Olaf Grell left us forever – How could his​ dream still become​ real?

Very sad news reached us this summer: Olaf Grell, on July 21, has suddenly died in his young age of 63 by a heart attack. With Olaf we not only have lost one of our most active members, but he was also a close friend to many of us. As a highly engaged biologist in Kiel, Germany, he was the inspiring motor for the Grand Béréby marine protected area initiative in Côte d’Ivoire. His engagement and involvement in CEM (Conservation des Espèces Marines) on the Ivory Coast started in 2015 with a focus on protecting marine turtle nesting sites. Meanwhile, the initiative is part of a governmental programme for establishing at least 5 marine protected areas. Whether the turtle coast of Grand Béréby can become an LT&C-Example and thus a blueprint for other marine protected areas in Côte d’Ivoire, was discussed last December, when Olaf Grell met with the Secretariat of the Abidjan Convention, which is in charge of MPA programme on behalf of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire.

In recent years, Olaf’s friends, supporters of the project and members of LT&C regularly met in the offices oceanBASIS in Kiel to listen to his exciting news from Côte d’Ivoire. Olaf’s enthusiasm and the stirring tale about his experiences and plans provided always strong motivation to believe in the initiative and to support him to reach his dream. Several of his friends and supporters had the opportunity to join his expeditions to Grand Béréby and assisted him in his biological surveys of the area and his convincing way of involving the local people. Financial support was provided, among others, by the Lighthouse Foundation and the Foundation Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung.

To honour Olaf and his work in the best possible manner, we need to find ways to secure his heritage. Therefore our member oceanBASIS invited some of Olaf’s friends and supporters of the project to its localities in Kiel to meet on August 21. Together we will think and talk about what we can tribute to finally realise his dream. If others have any ideas or want to support the further process of achieving the protection of the coast at Grand Béréby as a marine reserve and area where local people and tourism business engage in and benefit from (in short: an LT&C-Example), they may contact us directly.