Linking holidays and recreation with nature experience and conservation in your neighbourhood

Urlaub und Erholung mit Naturerleben und Schutz der Artenvielfalt verbinden” (Linking holidays and recreation with protecting biodiversity) is the title of a recent press release of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), which we recommend to our German-speaking readers to have a look at. The agency is presenting its new project „Voluntourismus für biologische Vielfalt in den Nationalen Naturlandschaften“. It builds on the finding that nature-based holidays (Natururlaub) in Germany is getting more and more popular. And, according to a public study (Naturbewusstseinsstudie 2017), more than half of German society is prepared to do more for the protection of biological diversity.

The “Voluntourismus” project is based on partnerships between protected area management agencies or organisations and tourism providers. It will run for three years on a total budget of more than 440.000 Euro of the Federal Biodiversity Programme of the German Ministry of Environment. The coordinating project partner is the NGO Nationale Naturlandschaften e.V., and one of the other partners is our member and LT&C-Example Schutzstation Wattenmeer.

The project seeks to produce concrete examples, where holidaymakers are voluntarily supporting the management of protected nature areas. It is totally in line with the mission of LT&C. The Corona crisis furthermore triggered the understanding that more regional holidays could often outway international tourism in regard to environmental benefits or footprints. In this context, it would be great if among German tourists the LT&C Examples in their neighbourhood, the Wadden Sea, the Jasmund National Park centre “Königsstuhl” or the Tree Top Walks are getting more popular by producing support and understanding for nature conservation.

It will be interesting to see the results of the “Voluntourismus” project. It could become an LT&C-Example in itself and hopefully, other countries will copy it.

More information about the project you find here.

Schutzstation Wattenmeer – THE LT&C-Example within the Wadden Sea

Schutzstation Wattenmeer – THE LT&C-Example within the Wadden Sea

The Schutzstation Wattenmeer was founded in 1962. At that time she was the first NGO in the Wadden Sea region which combined the traditional idea of nature conservation with guiding tourists and educating them about the value of the internationally important tidal flats and other natural features of the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea. Today the Schutzstation is the leading NGO in the Wadden Sea with more than 8.000 public events per year and more than 350.000 people per year reached through events, educative excursions, exhibitions and other activities. The fact that over the years millions of visitors to the Wadden Sea were educated about the values and protection needs of the area certainly had a significant impact for achieving its status of national park and World Heritage site. The NGO is linking tourism and conservation and thereby is an own clear LT&C-Example within the LT&C-Example International Wadden Sea (NL/D/DK).

The International Wadden Sea of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark is the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mudflats in the world, with natural processes undisturbed throughout most of the area. It encompasses a multitude of transitional zones between the land, sea and freshwater environment, and is rich in species specially adapted to the demanding environmental conditions. It is considered one of the most important areas for migratory birds in the world, in particular for Arctic shore- and water birds migrating along the East Atlantic Flyway. Up to 6.1 million birds can be present at the same time, and an average of 10 to 12 million birds pass through it each year.

That the entire Wadden Sea, today has the status of national parks, other types of protected areas, and got even designated by UNESCO as World Heritage has much to do with the educational and political work the Schutzstation Wattenmeer has been engaged in within the Schleswig-Holstein part of the Wadden Sea. Already since 1962, the organisation lobbied for protecting significant parts of the North-Friesian Wadden by launching the idea of a “Großreservat Halligmeer”. And since 1972 the organisation involved tourists in a campaign for a national park. This goal finally has been reached in 1985 with the establishment of the Nationalpark Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer. And that success story had much to do with a cooperative movement of several NGOs (“Aktionsgemeinschaft Nordseewatten”; AGN) against the last embankments of the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea. The Schutzstation did play an essential role in the political battle of the AGN. And its many years’ education work with teaching millions of tourists about the universal value of the wetland with its tidal flats and salt marshes had laid the ground for the historical value change of treating the Wadden Sea no longer as potential agriculture land but as one of the most important natural regions in Europe deserving highest status of protection.

Today the Schutzstation Wattenmeer with its 17 information- and education centres is not only continuing and increasing the positive conservation impact of tourism on the further development of the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park. With its staff and voluntary rangers, together more than 100 highly motivated people, it is officially contracted by the national park authorities with several monitoring and conservation tasks. As the income of the Schutzstation is largely raised from tourists, it is valid to state that through the work of the NGO tourism is also supporting the conservation work financially.

Therefore, the Schutzstation Wattenmeer is an outstanding LT&C-Example, where tourism has supported financially, politically and most importantly by ways of education the establishment of the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park. And today the NGO is further facilitating and managing educational, political and financial support of tourism for the conservation work and development of the protection of the Wadden Sea.

The Schutstation Wattenmeer has much potential to spread the positive impact of tourism through its work and in cooperation with other organisations and institutions increasingly to the entire international Wadden Sea. The strategy for “Sustainable Tourism in the Wadden Sea World Heritage Destination” could serve as a common frame for such development. To relate more clearly to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and set own examples of supporting SDG targets through the design and work of its education centres will be another way of more international outreach and impact. Direct collaboration with international organisations in the field of nature conservation and sustainable tourism, such as LT&C, may make the regional example contributing even more to global goals. 

Today many initiatives in the world aiming to create or develop protected areas are facing similar challenges as the Schutzstation Wattenmeer 50 years ago. Combining nature conservation and tourism can be a solution and successful strategy, which in many cases has the potential to produce win-win results. Important is to find and keep a balance of avoiding overtourism with all its negative impacts on the environment but achieving positive impacts by promoting conservation supporting forms of tourism.

The Schutzstation is very keen to assist other NGOs and tourism enterprises in their way to combine nature conservation, local people’s and tourism interests. 

During recent years, different people and institutions have build up partnerships and exchanges with another region with extensive tidal flats internationally important for Arctic shorebirds: the Yellow Sea of China and the Koreas. Many experiences from the Wadden Sea could probably be “exported” to the Yellow Sea when it comes to achieving also World Heritage status there. Also along the East Atlantic Flyway of coastal birds, more cooperation and exchange of experiences could be reached with other important tidal flat areas such as those on the African West coast.

One Planet Vision for a Responsible Recovery of the Tourism Sector

The UN One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme, a Partner of LT&C, on World Environment Day,  released the One Planet Vision for a Responsible Recovery of Tourism providing strategic guidance for the recovery of the tourism sector in line with UNWTO priorities.

To inspire governments and the private sector to recover better, the Programme now is inviting stakeholders which are leading by example to share their initiatives for a responsible recovery in order to transform “Vision into Action”.

They are looking for initiatives that:

  • Focus on one or more of the lines of action recommended in the Vision
  • Show how implementation of the lines of action is possible
  • Are strategic to accelerate sustainability in tourism as they are rooted in measurement
  • Provide open source or free to use content for other stakeholders to be inspired, replicate and scale-up

Dissemination of selected initiatives will take place following a phased approach through UNWTO and One Planet social media. 

To participate, please fill in this survey as soon as possible and no later than 15 July 2020 (1st intake):  https://www.unwto.org/covid-19-oneplanet-responsible-recovery-initiatives

In line with the priorities outlined in the  UNWTO Global Guidelines to Restart  Tourism, this vision aims to support the development and implementation of recovery plans which contribute to the  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  and the Paris Agreement. As such, the vision recommends six lines of action to guide a responsible tourism recovery for people, planet and prosperity,  namely public health, social inclusion, biodiversity conservation, climate action,  circular economy and governance and finance.

LT&C encourages its members, which have provided LT&C-Examples of tourism supporting the Biodiversity SDGs 14 and 15 to participate and contribute with their specific cases.

Download the vision

The Long Run and Half-Earth – an example of linking tourism and conservation

June 24, The Long Run, Partner of LT&C, hosted its 15th weekly hangout for its members, where they introduced their new partner – the Half-Earth Project.  Dr. Paula J. Ehrlich, President & CEO of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and lead of the Half-Earth Project was co-hosting the callThe cooperation of The Long Run and the Half-Earth Project is a great example of how to produce synergy between tourism and biodiversity protection, an example of linking tourism and conservation, which LT&C will have a closer look at on how it works in practice. Others may learn from this fruitful cooperation.

At the hangout (webinar) Paula shared insights with the members of The Long Run about the Half-Earth Project, a call to protect half the land and sea in order to manage sufficient habitat to reverse the species extinction crisis and ensure the long-term health of our planet.

The goal of The Long Run is to maintain or improve the integrity of ecosystems through effective, sustainable management practices that ensure ecosystems continue to benefit mankind in perpetuity. The Long Run partnered with the Half-Earth Project because they will be able to:

  • Harness synergies and collaborate in order to push the sustainable travel and conservation agenda even further.  
  • Share best practices and unique insights from their members to inspire others to join the movement and protect landscapes and seascapes for posterity.
  • Seek opportunities to further promote the impacts of The Long Run and its members and further increase cross-pollination and lessons learned to help to achieve the organisation’s vision.

Some of the key points shared in the webinar:

  • The ongoing mass extinction of the natural world ranks with pandemics, world war, and climate change as among the greatest threats that humanity has imposed on itself.
  • Unless humanity learns a great deal more about global biodiversity and moves quickly to protect it, we will soon lose most of the species composing life on Earth.”  E. O. Wilson states,
  • Why one-half? If we protect half the global surface, the number of species protected will be 85% or more. At one-half and above, life on Earth enters the safe zone.
  • Building on cutting-edge science, analytics, and technology, the Half-Earth Project is driving a differentiating scientific understanding of how to best support the most biodiverse places in the world as well as the people who call these paradises home.
  • Advances in technology have allowed them to comprehensively map the geospatial location and distribution of the species of the earth at high enough resolution to drive decision-making about where there is the best opportunity to protect the most species.  
  • The Half-Earth Future programs are an invitation to companiescommunities, places and scientists to consolidate and direct their conservation efforts, and contribute to a Half-Earth future in their own ways. 

As a Community for a Half-Earth Future, The Long Run shows:

  • How collectively the members of The Long Run are demonstrating that business can be a force for good and inspire others to make the world a better place. 
  • That there is a potential for a strong alliance between what The Long Run is doing (the HOW to protect and conserve) with the WHY of the Half-Earth campaign.

LT&C webinar highlights the importance of exchange and support among LT&C members

Last week we had the pleasure to host our first online webinar on “Effects of the pandemic on ecotourism destinations and protected area management – LT&C Example Providers share insights into their crisis management” which featured testimonies and insights from our LT&C members and partners from around the world on how the crisis has affected them in their organisations or eco destinations and what lessons they have learnt so far.

The webinar was moderated by Diana Körner and after a short introduction by LT&C founder Peter Prokosch, the following LT&C example providers and members presented their cases :

  • Sibylle Riedmiller and Benjamin Taylor: Chumbe Island Coral Park, Zanzibar, Tanzania
  • Greg Bakunzi: Virunga national park, DRC, and Red Rocks community activities, Rwanda
  • Svein Wilhelmsen:  Basecamp Masai Mara, Kenya
  • Aivar Ruukel: Celebration of European Day of Parks in Estonia, on 24th of May in 2020
  • Timothy O’Donoghe: Reopening of Jackson Hole & Yellowstone, USA
  • Zoritsa Urosevic: UNWTO – a responsible tourism recovery

The webinar aimed to address the following questions:

  • How can we ensure the integration of the SDGs, especially 14 and 15, in tourism recovery?
  • What role should digitalization play in the recovery of ecotourism?
  • How can we better support, protect and multiply LT&C Examples?

Following the presentations, a lively discussion evolved, with many participants asking questions, particularly in regard to the importance of domestic tourism to offer support to nature-based tourism offers. Panellists shared good practices and lessons learnt from Estonia and Wyoming (US) in launching successful protected area events and offers for local populations. Some of the challenges encountered by African destinations to develop inclusive domestic nature-based tourism offers, which are accessible and affordable for local populations were also highlighted. The role of UNWTO in supporting governments in addressing SDGs and creating local value as part of their tourism recovery plans was discussed. It was found that LT&C examples, such as the ones that were presented, should indeed get priority in terms of incentives for recovery as they directly contribute to SDGs and local livelihoods which in turn are intrinsically linked to conservation areas. These examples provide models and showcases to build on and learn from when re-designing any post-shock tourism development programmes. 

Click here to see the full webinar. 

We are considering hosting more webinars in the future. If you are an LT&C example provider or member, please contact us to express your interest to feature in our next webinar.

World Oceans Day and Week: Why can’t Norway be a better example of how to protect our marine environment?

June 8 has been celebrated as World Oceans Day, and LT&C Partner Mission Blue is prolonging it for the entire week. Many important organisations, institutions and governmental representatives from all over the world celebrated the day, put out their messages or run impressive webinars. One message came up again and again and is shared by many: The core way to protect our oceans is to establish and complete a global network of marine protected areas, which cover at least 30% of the global seas. And that should not only happen on paper. Effective protection must include large no-fishing zones. Today not much more than 2% of the oceans are protected, and even there are the protection measures often weak. When now even the EU committed in its recently published Biodiversity Strategy to achieve 30% protection of all ecosystems and habitats by 2030, both on land and sea, and wants to spend at least €20 billion a year on nature, there should be hope that the entire world community will follow that path. COP15 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity next year in China provides the chance that this goal will be decided.

An optimistic view is also spread by Mission Blue with their campaign for Igniting Public Support for a Global Network of Marine Protected Areas. You should watch the impressive video with Sylvia Earle on that web page to understand, why this is of crucial importance. Mission Blue’s inspiring way to promote so-called Hope Spots should trigger further and brought understanding for the need to establish many more and much larger Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This is also in line with the Marine Conservation Insitute, another partner of LT&C, and their Global Ocean Refuge System. Some of their awarded Blue Parks are also promoted as LT&C-Examples. Hope Spots, Blue Parks and LT&C-Examples, they should complement each other and strengthen the message: By 2030 at least 30% of the oceans need to be protected within effective MPAs that by large extent include no-fishing/ no-take zones.

Looking at Norway on the world map of Hope Spots (as LT&C has its base in Arendal on the Norwegian South coast) one can find only two: The Jæren Coast and Kosterfjorden Yttre Hvaler. They are both not really convincing MPA-examples if measured by international standards. Certainly, they are not protected by means of no-take zones. Blue Parks don’t exist in Norway at all, and marine LT&C-Examples have not yet be found either. That raises some principal questions as Norway profiles normally worldwide as a very marine and maritime nation, which supports more than other countries environmental organisations such as UNEP and NGOs or international environmental conventions. Norway is also a leading nation in marine research and proclaimed sustainable fisheries. It is blessed with enormous marine resources in forms of oil, gas and fish, which made it become one of the richest countries in the world. Why is Norway, in contrast, ranking that low when it comes to MPAs and no-take zones? What can we expect from other nations if Norway can’t do it? Why can’t Norway be a better example of how to protect our marine environment?

A test case for finding answers to these questions can be the recently established Raet national park at our doorsteps in Arendal. Formerly planned as “Transekt Skagerrak”, it covers a 607km2 large sector of the sea, reaching out from the coast till about 500m deep sea. It should preserve a representative piece of the Skagerrak coast from any physical destruction or devaluation. Since 1882 the area is the open sea laboratory of one of Europe’s oldest marine research stations, Flødevigen right at the border of the park, which is today part of the renowned Norwegian Marine Research Institute. The research station, e.g. since a long time has studied the development of lobster populations in specially closed for fishery plots. They can demonstrate what biologists all over the world have used as an argument for no-fishing zones: The not harvested fish get older, lay exponentially more eggs and build up healthy populations to the benefits of fisheries in the surrounding of the protected area. Each autumn when the lobster fishery starts in Arendal one can watch, how lobster traps are placed directly at the border of the research plots. However, there is hardly anybody in the region who argues that these lessons should be applied to the entire national park and large no-take zones should be established. Luckily there are increasing activities in the park to clean the area from lost fishing nets and lobster cages, and all together Norway invests a lot in removing plastics from the sea. Maybe those engaging in related local activities realise more and more that they are just fighting symptoms and that they should engage more in solving the root causes and keep at least the larger area of the national park free from fishery for the benefits of biodiversity and surrounding fishery. That way maybe even Raet national park can become a Hope Spot by leading the way for a broader Norwegian marine environmental policy.

UNWTO Webinar QUO VADIS TOURISM: “Agenda 2030 and SDGs in times of COVID-19” – What kind of tourism meets the Future We Want?

May 27, UNWTO hosted a very relevant webinar if to find answers on some pressing questions about tourism after COVID-19. What kind of tourism meets the Future We Want, meaning the Agenda 2030, which all governments in the world had agreed to when in 2015 committing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? What kind of tourism has the chance to recover? Or what kind of tourism should actually recover and therefore should receive support from governments? If interested in some of the answers, the webinar can still be revisited on YouTube

LT&C in its presentation during the webinar had put the focus on the green and blue SDGs, 6, 13, 14 & 15, meaning Water, Climate, and Biodiversity on Sea and Land, as we believe they are most important if the Future We Want should be achieved. Tourism, besides Education, is in a unique position to potentially support all the 17 SDGs. LT&C’s mission is to showcase, where tourism is supporting biodiversity (SDGs 14&15), more specifically protected areas, and has so far published 40 such LT&C-Examples.

The tourism sector ranks presently as one of the hardest hitten by the Corona crisis and therefore receives a lot of attention. However, present debates on helping tourism businesses to survive or recover often neglect the question of what kind of tourism we really need to reach the Future We Want (as defined by the SDGs). On the other hand government representatives increasingly defend their extremely large financial help packages by emphasising that they will be distributed in a targeted manner. What could make Corona-help to tourism more targeted and in line with what all governments already in 2015 agreed to, then looking for tourism cases, which can proof SDG-support? LT&C highlighted at the webinar in this context the recently communicated EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 with its statement “Investing in nature protection and restoration will also be critical for Europe’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis”. Some initial suggestions for targeted financing of tourism where provided in the LT&C-presentation at the UNWTO webinar:

Not only a short term message for World Biodiversity Day (May 22): The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 brings Biodiversity very high on the international agenda for a whole decade.

Two days before World Biodiversity Day (May 22), the EU Commission communicated its Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: “Bringing nature back into our lives”. This is a very important and ambitios strategy, which hopefully motivates also governments in other parts of the world to follow or even compete with. It puts Biodiversity highest on governments agenda, and not without reason if we just read the introduction of the EU communication:

From the world’s great rainforests to small parks and gardens, from the blue whale to microscopic fungi, biodiversity is the extraordinary variety of life on Earth. We humans are part of, and fully dependent on, this web of life: it gives us the food we eat, filters the water we drink, and supplies the air we breathe. Nature is as important for our mental and physical wellbeing as it is for our society’s ability to cope with global change, health threats and disasters. We need nature in our lives.”

The strategy also responds to the present COVID-19 crisis: “Investing in nature protection and restoration will also be critical for Europe’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. When restarting the economy, it is crucial to avoid falling back and locking ourselves into damaging old habits. The European Green Deal – the EU’s growth strategy – will be the compass for our recovery, ensuring that the economy serves people and society and gives back to nature more than it takes away.” – This could also be related to LT&C’s position that governments, which put out enormous financial support to the tourism industry for surviving the Corona-crisis, may prioritize those businesses, which have a proven history of supporting the protection of biodiversity. LT&C-Examples should be of high relevance in this context.

The EU-Biodiversity Strategy also emphasizes the high importance of protected areas to safeguard nature: “Biodiversity fares better in protected areas. However, the current network of legally protected areas, including those under strict protection, is not sufficiently large to safeguard biodiversity. Evidence shows that the targets defined under the Convention on Biological Diversity are insufficient to adequately protect and restore nature. Global efforts are needed and the EU itself needs to do more and better for nature and build a truly coherent Trans-European Nature Network.” The EU is thereby joining or even leading the movement to safeguard global biodiversity (known as #30×30) by advocating for the 30% target for 2030: “For the good of our environment and our economy, and to support the EU’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, we need to protect more nature. In this spirit, at least 30% of the land and 30% of the sea should be protected in the EU.

And about financing The European Green Deal the EU Commission states: “To meet the needs of this strategy, including investment priorities for Natura 2000 and green infrastructure, at least €20 billion a year should be unlocked for spending on nature. This will require mobilising private and public funding at national and EUlevel71, including through a range of different programmes in the next long-term EU budget. Moreover, as nature restoration will make a major contribution to climate objectives, a significant proportion of the 25% of the EU budget dedicated to climate action will be invested in biodiversity and nature-based solutions.” 

Download and read the full text of this important biodiversity commitment of the EU:

COVID-19: Biodiversity and Biodiversity-supporting tourism need to come up much higher on the world’s agenda!

The present Corona-times imply significant challenges for the entire tourism sector, including our members, who stay behind our important 39 LT&C-Examples. On the other hand, times also provide prospects that the governments and others in the world will have to put much more emphasis focusing on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they all had agreed already in 2015. That means much more focus on those types of tourism, which support SDGs. From our perspective, the highest priority should go to the biodiversity SDGs 14 & 15, respectively related forms of tourism. Therefore, LT&C has to play an even more critical role. We need to raise an increasing discussion with our LT&C-Example providers, how their essential work can be secured, upscaled and replicated.

Biodiversity-supporting tourism needs to come up much higher on the world’s agenda!

Read in this context also the guest article, which has been published yesterday by the three co-chairs of the IPBES Global Assessment Report, together with IPBES nexus assessment scoping expert Dr. Peter Daszak. Click here to read this article in  عربى / español / English / français / русский /中文 / Deutsch. The title and main message of this article are:

COVID-19 Stimulus Measures Must 
Save Lives, Protect Livelihoods, and Safeguard Nature
to Reduce the Risk of Future Pandemics

LT&C recently has approached all providers of LT&C-Examples to share information about their present situation, ideas and activities to overcome the present challenges. We like to republish herewith the emergency call of our member and LT&C-Example provider Basecamp Explorer

MARA NABOISHO CONSERVANCY URGENTLY NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT TO CONTINUE

Norway’s first LT&C-Example: Lista Landscape

Despite the fact that many visit Norway because of its nature and beautiful landscapes, it so far has been surprisingly difficult to identify a single Norwegian example, where tourism is clearly supporting the establishment or positive development of protected areas. And neither Innovation Norway’s or the tourism industries’ sustainability strategies contain clear references to the Sustainable Development Goals or specifically the SDGs 14 and 15 for protecting nature. When now South-Norway’s Lista Landscape became the first LT&C-Example in Norway, it may encourage others in the country to come up with more examples.

The Lista landscape has been protected as a result of dialogue processes facilitated by Farsund municipality. Tourism played an essential role in positive conservation outcomes. In 1987-88, ten vitally important lake and wetland areas became protected as nature reserves. These included shallow coves on the coast, dune landscapes, marsh and swamp areas, and shallow and nutrient-rich lakes. Specific plant and animal life are in the focus of this type of protection. In 1996 these areas were assigned joint status as a RAMSAR site due to their importance for migrating birds and their characteristics known as the Lista Wetland System. Lista is known for having many rare and threatened bird species and is the location in Norway where the highest number of different bird species are observed each year.

One of the only recently restored wetlands is Slevdalsvannet. The area is just aside or part of a former NATO-airbase. And where formerly depots of atomic weapons should be installed, today cattle are grazing and bird observation hides have been built (see the first picture below). It is a picture that nature comes back and takes over a formerly much more used and drained wetland. An area where cranes, lapwings, common snipes, garganeys and marsh harriers are nesting, and skylarks singing in the air.

Through continuous land-use planning and amendments of management plans, the municipality aims to preserve the Lista landscape in context with sustainable farming, local businesses and tourism. 

As a short term project, Farsund Municipality, Agder County Council and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration collaborate actively to establish a national touring bike trail along the entire Lista coast. The hiking trail is called Vita Velo and focuses on architecture and cultural heritage as well as unique experiences in the Lista landscape. As a first step, a 15-kilometre route with rest areas and bike racks with charging points for e-bikes have been established already in 2019 in the western part of Lista. 

The work on what is called “Selected Agricultural Landscapes” is also open to creativity and future planning. Such areas, established by voluntary agreements between the landowners/stakeholders and the Government on 540 hectares in 2009 and expanded to 1,100 hectares in 2018, combine advantages and benefits for agriculture, tourism, conservation, local culture and trade development. 

Recently, a management plan, including a visitor strategy, has been drawn up for the shores of Lista. A key focus of the policy is to enable sustainable economic growth and nature protection. Lista Fyr AS worked together with the Administration of Farsund municipality and the Agder County Governor in making the Visitor Strategy for Lista. A wide selection of local stakeholders contributed to the process. It is believed that the close connection between Tourism and Conservation in Lista Fyr AS will be fruitful for the future development of Lista and Farsund.

South-Norway’s Lista Landscape: protected as a result of dialogue processes facilitated by Farsund Municipality

South-Norway’s Lista Landscape: protected as a result of dialogue processes facilitated by Farsund Municipality

With its open agricultural landscape and wide horizons reaching out towards the sea, Lista has fascinated and attracted residents, tourists and artists for generations. The landscape is flat, the soil fertile, and the coast dramatic and beautiful. Lista has miles of sandy beaches. Visitors are today attracted by the sea, high sky, forces of nature, birds and the magnificent landscape. The local administration of the Farsund municipality was among the first to act according to the Norwegian adaptation of a new Nature Conservation Act with a mission statement based on the Council of Europe’s definition of nature conservation. In 1976 the municipality administration established the “Lista Committee”, whose primary goal was to coordinate the conservation interests in Lista with other land-use interests. The Lista Committee outlined an arrangement involving dialogue between the county governor and the affected parties, meetings and inspections. Before the final conservation proposal was prepared and submitted to the ministry, all of the bodies and individuals, who could be impacted by potential conservation measures, had the opportunity to provide statements. The local government would manage the conflicts of interest and weigh these up. The Lista Committee’s recommendation was the starting point for Farsund municipality’s unique partnership on the Lista landscape and a working method in line with what the European Landscape Convention later has recommended. Today we can report the implementation of all the conservation initiatives (protection orders) approved by the Lista Committee. A direct result of the local democracy in Farsund Municipality is the achievement of 29 areas, which are purchased from the landowners and established as government-protected outdoor recreation areas. They include different kinds of officially protected areas.

Lista Wetland System

  In the extensive democratic process, the interests of tourism were involved and played an essential role in the positive conservation outcomes: One of them is the landscape protected area “Lista Beaches”, established already in 1987. The objective of the protection was to preserve unique natural and cultural landscape with particular beach types and geological, botanical, zoological and cultural-historical characteristics of high conservation value. In 1987-88, ten vitally important lake and wetland areas followed by becoming protected as nature reserves. These included shallow coves on the coast, dune landscapes, marsh and swamp areas, and shallow and nutrient-rich lakes. Specific plant and animal life are in the focus of this type of protection. In 1996 these areas were assigned joint status as a RAMSAR site due to their importance for migrating birds and their characteristics known as the Lista Wetland System. Lista is known for having many rare and threatened bird species and is the location in Norway where the highest number of different bird species are observed each year.

Today the municipality is managing the visitors to the area by, among others, providing education services and marking hiking paths and bike trails. It includes a separate Coastal Trail of approximately 40 km. The roads in the wind farm established in 2012 in the northern heath areas are practical for hiking and cycling. The “Skjærgårdspark” can be accessed both from the mainland and from the sea. To preserve the specific cultural landscape and to prevent overgrowth, specific grazing management is in place. For example, the municipality has hired in “coastal goats” to keep the vegetation down along the Lista beaches.

The Visitor Centre Wetland Lista opened at Lista Lighthouse Station in 2015 as a nationally authorized visitor Centre. It is an outcome of the project “Sørnorsk kystnatur” (Southern Norwegian Coastal Nature) which is part of the development programme “Naturarven som verdiskaper” (Natural heritage as a creator of value). The purpose of the project was to provide education and nature experiences through nature conservation areas. The working hypothesis is that a greater understanding of natural assets by non-experts through the increased use, including commercial, of nature conservation areas, will strengthen this protection. Through this project, Slevdalsvannet and several other places in Lista have established various types of observation sites and provide universal access for people to experience the unique nature and birdlife in Lista. The objective of Visitor Centre Wetland Lista is to increase the visitors’ understanding of the wetlands nature, also as valuable to us as humans. The guides carefully organize the visits to this unique natural environment for any group or private person. Knowledge communication of how natural assets can be protected focuses on new generations. It should ensure that they “inherit” the pride of their own “everyday landscape” and the willingness to make extra efforts for its long-term protection. The conservation project of the Lista landscape is a case of preserving a living landscape with understanding and support of its visitors.

The activities of Visitor Centre Wetland Lista is today organized in the company Lista Fyr AS (Lista Lighthouse Inc), owned by Farsund municipality. From 2020 the company is in charge of local tourism, known as destination management office (DMO). Apart from education and information, the company’s primary objective is to link tourism and conservation in a sustainable way for the future.

 

Through continuous land-use planning and amendments of management plans, the municipality aims to preserve the Lista landscape in context with sustainable farming, local businesses and tourism. 

As a short term project, Farsund Municipality, Agder County Council and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration collaborate actively to establish a national touring bike trail along the entire Lista coast. The hiking trail is called Vita Velo and focuses on architecture and cultural heritage as well as unique experiences in the Lista landscape. As a first step, a 15-kilometre route with rest areas and bike racks with charging points for e-bikes have been established already in 2019 in the western part of Lista. 

The work on what is called “Selected Agricultural Landscapes” is also open to creativity and future planning. Such areas, established by voluntary agreements between the landowners/stakeholders and the Government on 540 hectares in 2009 and expanded to 1,100 hectares in 2018, combine advantages and benefits for agriculture, tourism, conservation, local culture and trade development. 

Recently, a management plan, including a visitor strategy, has been drawn up for the shores of Lista. A key focus of the policy is to enable sustainable economic growth and nature protection. Lista Fyr AS worked together with the Administration of Farsund municipality and the Agder County Governor in making the Visitor Strategy for Lista. A wide selection of local stakeholders contributed to the process. We believe that the close connection between Tourism and Conservation in Lista Fyr AS will be fruitful in the future development of Lista and Farsund.

The Lista landscape case of stakeholder involvement, dialogue and cooperation, resulting in a cluster of different types of protected areas, is an LT&C-Example, which could gain the attention of other municipalities or regions, particularly in Norway. It relates to both typical Norwegian policies and cultures as well as to international standards. Lista Fyr AS and Farsund municipality are open to sharing their model and partner with other destinations interested to learn from Lista’s experiences. 

COVID-19: More news and calls for help from our LT&C-Examples

The present Corona-times imply significant challenges for the entire tourism sector, including our members, who stay behind our important 39 LT&C-Examples. On the other hand, times also provide prospects that the governments and others in the world will have to put much more emphasis focusing on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they all had agreed already in 2015. That means much more focus on those types of tourism, which support SDGs. From our perspective, the highest priority should go to the biodiversity SDGs 14 & 15, respectively related forms of tourism. Therefore, LT&C has to play an even more critical role. We need to raise an increasing discussion with our LT&C-Example providers, how their essential work can be secured, upscaled and replicated.

Nature is sending us a message, says UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen. “There are too many pressures at the same time on our natural systems and something has to give,” she added. “We are intimately interconnected with nature, whether we like it or not. If we don’t take care of nature, we can’t take care of ourselves. And as we hurtle towards a population of 10 billion people on this planet, we need to go into this future armed with nature as our strongest ally.”

The providers of LT&C-Examples have shown in all corners of the world how tourism can support nature conservation. Now they are themselves challenged, and the crisis is putting at risk effective protected area management. However, it is also a time to take a step back and rethink tourism on a more strategic level and to strengthen the case for sustainable tourism, which supports conservation of nature (SDGs 14 & 15).

As LT&C recently reached out to all their LT&C-Example providers, we increasingly receive responses with urgency for help. Here is the message from the LT&C-Example Chumbe Island Coral Park.

Chumbe Island Coral Park is the LT&C-Example of ecotourism supporting conservation, research and environmental education at the world’s first Private Marine Park

From the North of the United States, we are receiving the message from the ongoing battle to safe the LT&C-Example Boundary Waters: Protecting the Boundary Waters during the COVID-19 Pandemic

From the LT&C-Example Jackson Hole & Yellowstone Sustainable Destination Program, Timothy O’Donoghue has sent us a slightly more optimistic message: “ In short, similar to the rest of the world, our destination is shutdown.  The central attraction here is our two national parks:  Yellowstone and Grand Teton.  They are projected to reopen on May 22 which is to say that is when people, primarily from within the U.S., will start to arrive.  This is normally the time of year when the parks and surrounding national forest are closed anyway, primarily to give wildlife and their habitat a rest and for the snow to be cleared from the roads.
The primary concern is how the restrictions will be eased and over what time.  The state of Wyoming is in a much better position than other states since the impact of coronavirus has been less so far.

Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Paul Racko

And for our German-speaking audience, we like to forward the latest Newsletter of the Schutzstation Wattenmeer, the most important conservation-education organisation for the LT&C-Example Wadden Sea. They urgently need help!

https://archive.newsletter2go.com/?n2g=rdpntdvb-tvjc8pkg-oxy
Photo: Martin Stock: “Meerlandschaften