LT&C joined huge coalition urging for UNESCO World Heritage status of the Yellow Sea – Phase 1 for Chinese parts successfully​ reached

Three years ago LT&C reported on the World Conservation Congress calling for World Heritage nomination for the intertidal zone of the Yellow Sea. And last year on the good news that China will halt land reclamation along its coast. Two weeks ago LT&C reported having joined a coalition of 62 urging for UNESCO World Heritage status of Chinese parts of the Yellow Sea. Now, at World’s Environment Day (July 5), the positive news from session 43 of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, meeting June 30 – July 10 in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, reached us: the nomination of the “Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the coast of the Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of China” has passed Phase 1. China is now allowed to prepare Phase 2 and is encouraged to “coordinate its plans for nominations with other States Parties in the flyway, in relation to the potential for future transboundary serial nominations, and/or extensions, that more fully reflects the habitat needs and patterns of use of migratory birds across the wider Yellow Sea area.”

There are clear signs of a positive movement in the right direction. And if the goal will be reached to get this area of crucial importance for millions of Arctic shorebirds on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway protected, it will be due to a huge international coalition joining forces here. As one of the various actions 62 organisations and other representatives of nature conservation, including LT&C, had signed a letter to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee requesting final steps to implement this status for the “Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea, Bohai Gulf of China” as Phase I on the way to a more comprehensive and trans-boundary approach, including all three countries, apart from China also the two Koreas.  

Initiatives to protect the internationally important but highly threatened tidal flats of the Yellow Sea of China and Korea came among other from the LT&C-Example Wadden Sea.  As the trilateral Wadden Sea achieved the status of a World Heritage Site, and its tidal flats are of crucial importance for millions of Arctic shorebirds using the East-Atlantic Flyway, so has the Yellow Sea a comparable role for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

The Wadden Sea would not have achieved its current protection status, including national parks and a UNESCO-approved Word Heritage Site, if millions of tourists had not been educated over time in the information centers and guided tours on the mudflats about its significant natural values. 

The LT&C Wadden Sea example has now the potential to be reproduced in the Yellow Sea of China and Korea. It was in fact the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, which over years has build up a strong partnership with people and institutions in the Yellow Sea region. And  LT&C-members from the Wadden Sea today are involved in assisting their colleagues in China and Korea with their experience.

Most importantly, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) has become a powerful example of collaboration of regional governments together with national and international conservation NGOs. It will be seen in the future, whether the tidal flats in all three countries of the Yellow Sea will be properly protected and how much tourism will play a positive role in achieving this globally important goal.

We also like to thank Nicola J Crockford from RSPB/Birdlife International for her great coordination work to bring 62 organisations and other representatives of nature conservation together to sign the letter to the World Heritage Committee, which can be downloaded here. The decisions of the 43rd session of the UNSECO World Heritage Committee regarding new nominations can be found in this document.

Booklet about Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative available

At the occasion of celebrating the 10 years anniversary of the Wadden Sea World Heritage (which is also an LT&C-Example), a booklet about the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative has been published. The booklet provides, among others, an overview of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative’s bird monitoring results. Key findings of the EAF Assessment 2017 report are compared with trend data on breeding and migratory birds in the Wadden Sea to find out if the reasons for declining populations in the Wadden Sea can be identified in the other areas of the East Atlantic Flyway or in the Wadden Sea. The brochure concludes with a short overview on how monitoring and capacity building is needed for conservation and management of wetlands.

Ideally, the initiative will lead to more complete protection of a chain of key areas along the flyway, whether these are wintering areas of coastal birds in West-Africa or breeding areas in the Arctic. In several cases, nature-based tourism could become an important supportive factor. One of the next occasions, where opportunities for linking eco-tourism and protected areas, specifically in the Arctic, will be discussed, is a Round Table event at the Northern Sustainable Development Forum, September 24-28 in Yakutsk, Sakha Republic, Russia. One example to be discussed there could be the LT&C initiative for a national park on Taimyr.

Never before it has been better described how​ Africa can benefit from linking tourism and protected areas

African countries could increase tourism earnings from protected areas by between four and 11 times in the coming decade. This is the key finding of a working paper, which is the first in a series produced by Space for Giants and UN Environment entitled ‘Building a wildlife economy’. The series has been commissioned to inform a framework for the African Union and its member nations for the optimum use of wildlife to diversify and expand their economies, strengthen the livelihoods of their citizens, and achieve ecological resilience in the face of pressing modern social and environmental challenges. Conservation Capital were the lead technical authors of this Working Paper. For Africa, the paper covers perfectly what Linking Tourism & Conservation (LT&C) is about. It will be certainly of great interest for our African members, who themselves contribute to the picture described in the assessment.

The following excerpts of the summary as well as the graphics are from the working paper:

The global tourism industry accounts for one in ten jobs and 10.4 % of GDP or $8.8 trillion annually. It accounted for one of every five new jobs created over the last five years, globally. Nowhere on the planet is tourism growing faster than in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of hotels has doubled in just four years. By 2030 the number
of international tourists to Africa is projected to jump from 62m to 134m people. This rate of growth is potentially transformative because already tourism comprises 8.5% of the continent’s economy supports 24m jobs.

Wildlife is the single biggest driver for Africa’s tourism growth. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation found that 80% of annual sales of trips to Africa were for wildlife watching: people wanting to visit the natural ecosystems that contain some of the last great wildlife spectacles left on Earth, including populations of terrestrial megafauna that are globally unique. In doing so, these tourists provided a powerful financial boost to the African countries that succeeded in attracting their custom.

The most thorough study conducted into the financial impact of nature-based tourism has found Africa’s 8,400 Protected Areas are generating $48 billion in direct in-country expenditure. This demonstrates that significant financial opportunity is available to the African governments that protect, market, and develop their natural assets in the right way for the tourism market – and that financial opportunity is only predicted to grow significantly.

The research undertaken for this Working Paper revealed that while Africa’s unique diversity of wildlife and habitat has the potential to radically transform the continent’s economy, this exceptional asset is being rapidly degraded. For example Africa’s Protected Area Network is underfunded by up to ten times the required level. One recent study, warned as much as $2 billion more is needed if the continent’s surviving lions are to be maintained. There is an urgent need to identify sustainable funds to maintain the natural landscapes that are not only driving Africa’s economy but are also supporting the ecosystem services on which all life on Earth depends.

Nature-based tourism is not only a solution to this funding gap but if implemented correctly, it has the potential to significantly improve the livelihoods of citizens.

Guided nature activities promote Soomaa national park

Guided nature activities promote Soomaa national park

Soomaa.com is a small local nature tourism business, that has been in business for 25 years in Soomaa national park. They promote the natural values and conservation aims through interpretation and education of our customers (both domestic and international) while taking them to guided canoe trips on rivers and guided hikes in forests and on bogs. They also contribute to the preservation and sustainable use of cultural values by promoting local dugout canoe heritage. Knowledge of building aspen dugout canoes is a living culture, that has survived in the remote villages of Soomaa due to the regular natural floods, called “the fifth season” by local people. Since 1996 we have organized boat building workshops. 

Soomaa national park (established in 1993) is a large wilderness area, home for large carnivores such as brown bear, lynx and wolf. Soomaa was certified by PAN Parks in 2009 and joined a European-wide network focusing on the protection of wilderness areas, the continent’s most undisturbed areas of nature. The company Soomaa.com became Local Business Partner of PAN Parks, together with six other businesses, demonstrating their high environmental standards and commitment to wilderness protection. The company actively contributed to the creation of a Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy of the national park.

The local guides of Soomaa.com are passionate about the nature values of Soomaa national park, they do actively promote the preservation of these values and the conservation aims of the national park. 

Soomaa.com regularly works with media aiming to raise awareness about wilderness values of Soomaa national park and the need for better conservation measures. Since 2014 they are part of the local group in Soomaa national park, who actively participates in the dialogue and campaign for better forest conservation in the national park. As a result of this campaign, the protection regime of some state-owned floodplain forests have been changed and planned logging inside the national park was cancelled.

Soomaa.com is constantly improving its work by taking into account the feedback from customers, as well as by networking with other nature tourism businesses in different protected areas nationally and internationally.

In 2017 Soomaa.com initiated and organized an international conference to discuss the issues of tourism in protected areas and to exchange good practices. Tourism businesses from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Slovenia participated, an there are plans to organize a similar forum also in the future.

30th Anniversary of first German-Soviet Biological Expedition to Taimyr

In summer 1989, within the framework of the Environmental Agreement of the governments of Germany and the Soviet Union (later Russian Federation), a first joint expedition of biologists studying birds along the East-Atlantic Flyway took place to the high Arctic breeding grounds on the Taimyr peninsular. This cooperation of the Institute of Evolutionary Morphology and Ecology of Animals (IEMEA) of the Academy of Science in Moscow and WWF-Germany helped to open doors for other international biological projects in the Siberian Arctic and finally resulted in an official partnership between the “Taimyrsky Zapovednik” (Nature Reserve) and the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park as well as in the establishment the “Great Arctic Zapovednik” on the northern coast of Taimyr.

The 30th anniversary of this pioneering expedition gives reason to look at a proposal for a new national park on Taimyr, which LT&C member and former scientist at the Taimyrsky Zapovednik, Natalia Malygina, who works today as a lecturer and researcher at the Ural Federal University, provided. The national park would connect the Taimyrsky- with the Great Arctic Zapovednik. The initiative would also contribute to secure a complete North-South transect, where in times of climate change, natural habitats and ecosystems could adapt through “migration”.

If a national park, in addition to existing strict protected areas, can be established, it could be of benefit for local people, e.g. in Khatanga, where locals can be involved in the management and guiding of tourism. They would, therefore, develop increasing interests in their protected areas and thereby contribute to safeguarding the wild natures’ future. In addition, tourists would get interested to visit Taimyr if attractive and affordable national park visits and related transportation can be offered. Because of this potential win-win, which can be studied in other parts of the world, a Taimyr national park could become an LT&C Example.

Maybe the upcoming Northern Sustainable Development Forum and its Round Table on “Ecotourism and Protected Areas”, September 24-28 in Yakutsk, could be an ideal platform to further discuss the Taimyr national park initiative.

“LT&C will be the most recognized lobbyist for nature protection in the tourism industry” – Interview with Anne Franze-Jordanov, new LT&C-Board member

Since its recent Annual General Meeting, which took place in Ramberg on the Lofoten, the Board of Linking Tourism & Conservation (LT&C) was extended by two members: Oliver Hillel from the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada, and Anne Franze-Jordanov, sustainable tourism expert on Gothenburg, Sweden. To present them both to our audience, we interviewed them with a few short questions. Here are the answers of Anne Franze-Jordanov:

What is your personal history being involved in both sustainable tourism and biodiversity?

I studied sustainable tourism management with specialising courses in Qatar and Thailand among others on community-based tourism. Fieldwork in remote northern regions of Thailand had a formative influence on me. I was working in ecotourism and co-founded a startup related to sustainable tourism in Qatar. At the moment I am based in Sweden and am consulting a community-based tourism organisation. The two projects I am leading and supporting our aim at building capacity for forest guide education and sustainable tourism business development in the region Västra Götaland Sweden.

Biodiversity has increasingly been part of my professional life but has always been playing a big roll in my personal activities. In my free-time I’m gardening, cultivating bees and  recently started a training in Agroforestry. As an activist within the transition town movement I’m driving education and awareness about human impact on our natural environment. 

How did you follow activities of Linking Tourism & Conservation?

I met Peter 2017 while being on a hiking trip with my husband through northern Norway. He introduced me to LT&C and I was immediately intrigued. Since then I was following LT&C activities though conversations with Peter, attendance on the ITB, social media and conversations with LT&C members. Being an active member in the communications working group since summer 2018 allowed me to even co-shape LT&Cs activities.

What motivated you to become a member and now even a member of the LT&C-Board?

I believe that SDG 14 and 15 are the most important and fundamental goals of all SDGs. Using tourism as a tool for positiv change and contribution to reach these two goals is the most useful idea I see for myself, having studied tourism management. Tourism has always been there and it’s hard to stop – so we ought to make use of it wisely. LT&C is a welcoming, inclusive network of experts who have big hearts and a strong common goal which creates an incredibly positive atmosphere. It’s an honour and a pleasure to support LT&C. 

What is your vision of the future of Linking Tourism & Conservation?

LT&C will be the most recognized lobbyist for nature protection in the tourism industry, supported by a broad spectrum of active members who exchange knowledge and support each other to produce best practices of sustainable tourism which promote nature protection. 

LT&C invited to co-organise a Roundtable discussion “Ecotourism and protected areas” at Northern Sustainable Development Forum

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. More information about the event you find on the LT&C calendar.

Continue reading “LT&C invited to co-organise a Roundtable discussion “Ecotourism and protected areas” at Northern Sustainable Development Forum”

Future development of Raet national park discussed and secr​et of tree sculptures uncovered

At an LT&C workshop, this week in Arendal members of Linking Tourism & Conservation and other interested participants discussed “How can Raet National Park be developed towards international standards?” Ideas and visions reached from more educative involvement of visitors, employing rangers, boat traffic regulations including “silent zones”, banning specific fishing gear such as gillnets, increasing no-fishing zones til facing out any waterfowl and marine mammal hunting. Controversial views were exchanged on hunting and fishing, in Norway traditionally also practised in national parks. It may take much more time and discussions in the future to reach common understanding about how the national park should be further developed. Nevertheless, it was clear that we all work towards a common goal, that is making the Raet National Park the finest in Norway, which can certainly be reached with continued conversation and collaboration of the many different interest groups involved in the development.

Gall of pine shoot moth, May 2010, Fenn’s Moss, North Wales. Photo: Janet Graham

Two botanists from Germany, Dr. Lebrecht Jeschke and Prof. Hans-Dieter Knapp, participated in the workshop. They had visited and studied Raet national park for three days. During their excursion to Tromøy they uncovered the secret behind the sculpture-formed pine trees in the Hove part of the national park. They believe that these unusually formes of the trees are caused by a butterfly, called in German Posthornwickler (Rhyacionia buoliana), in Norwegian Rød furuskuddvikler, English pine shoot moth. These forms of the trees may have been caused already about 100 years ago, when the moths laid eggs on or near buds at the end of terminal buds. That time the trees were still quite young and small. The two botanists, which are famous experts for establishing national parks, had seen themselves such forms of trees in a Russian protected area at the Baltic coast, where this phenomenon was part of education for visitors. Maybe this attraction of Hove could be in the future also part of the information activities of Raet national park and teach visitors not to destroy these sculptures, but learn how creative and fascinating undisturbed nature can be.

Maybe local tourism business could play a positive role that Raet national park can be developed towards international standards and therefore be profiled as LT&C-Example.

IPBES Global Assessment: 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) this month came out with an alarming report on the status of our global ecosystems, habitats and species. IPBES, which is the UN-pendant to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), thereby contributes to the increasing understanding that the protection of nature is at least as crucial for the survival of life on our planet, as the protection of climate.

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide”, said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. And he also interprets the report “that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global. Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

The Report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. 

The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century.

Despite progress to conserve nature and implement policies, the Report also finds that global goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors. With good progress on components of only four of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, it is likely that most will be missed by the 2020 deadline. Loss of biodiversity is shown to be not only an environmental issue, but also a developmental, economic, security, social and moral issue as well.

What does that mean for Linking Tourism & Conservation (LT&C)?

Spatial distribution of the world’s protected areas. March 2015: 217,300 protected areas from 238 countries and territories. Source: UNEP-WCMC 2014.

LT&C is basically a support organisation of the Aichi Target 11 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to achieve by 2020 a globally representative and well-managed network of protected areas, one of the key measures of sustaining the biodiversity on earth. Tourism, which thrives on using and marketing nature, national parks and other types of protected areas, should have an intrinsic interest to protect these main assets of their business. And, as there are many initiatives in sustainable, responsible and/or ecotourism in the world that support the establishment, management or the further development of (a) protected area(s), or a conservation initiative in a natural area, it is important that such examples are getting accelerated.

The mission of LT&C to promote such good examples (LT&C-Examples) and find ways how others can learn from and replicate them, is a better not underestimated hot topic. However, it will be important that much stronger post-2020 targets of the UN for protecting the biodiversity of the planet will be agreed next year. And the tourism industry then needs to be encouraged to play a much bigger role to achieve them.

LT&C celebrated its 5th Anniversary and outlined Post-2020 Strategy

Koenigstein/Taunus, February 22, 2019 

During the same month in 2014, “Linking Tourism & Conservation” (LT&C) was established and registered in Norway as a non-profit conservation organization with the mission to profile tourism that contributed to the global protected areas network. Now, five years later, a small group of founding Board members and other highly motivated “penguins” (in the photo) met in Koenigstein near Frankfurt/Main, Germany, to outline the future development of what is today an entirely voluntary organization. In relation to its small budget and lean administration, the achievements of LT&C are impressive. More than 300 competent and positive-minded members (known as penguins), distributed over all continents, have joined us; and, they are our main asset and the reason for our credibility. They represent both realms – tourism and conservation -and their backgrounds cover all levels of global society, from travellers and birdwatchers to tour companies and conservation NGOs up to UN organizations. They have identified and profiled 30 LT&C-Examples for replication, examples where tourism supports the establishment or development of national parks and other types of protected areas around the world.

Continue reading “LT&C celebrated its 5th Anniversary and outlined Post-2020 Strategy”

LT&C Workshop “How can Raet National Park be developed towards international standards?”

Raet, “verdens fineste nasjonalpark”, was the original vision of the “fathers” of the new marine national park on the Skagerrak-coast of Arendal, Grimstad, and Tvedestrand. At this workshop, we invite local LT&C members (including GRID-Arendal), “Friends of Raet National Park” (as found on Facebook), as well as representatives of such tourism businesses, which are interested to support the further positive development of the park. Also, marine experts from the local Flødevigen Marine Research Station as well as the manager of Raet national park, Jenny Marie Gulbrandsen, are invited to think with us about ideas, how Raet could at least become the leading example of a marine national park in Norway by developing towards international standards.

Continue reading “LT&C Workshop “How can Raet National Park be developed towards international standards?””

Giorgio Scala: “We should focus on a more positive approach”

Giorgio Scala, the CEO of the media company Deepbluemedia, is one of our Emperor Penguin-members, and as an official photographer of FINA (International Federation of Swimming), LEN (European Swimming Federation) and of the Italian and Russian Swimming Federations, he supports LT&C and has his own view on what the organization is about and its desired future development. As we are highly keen on listening to different voices and opinions of people that are interested in the development of LT&C (see also the outcome of our recent 5th-anniversary meeting), Peter Prokosch had the chance to conduct an interview with Giorgio:

Continue reading “Giorgio Scala: “We should focus on a more positive approach””