Governments, which put out enormous financial support to the tourism industry for surviving the Corona-crisis, may prioritise those businesses, which have a proven history of supporting the protection of biodiversity.
If 2020 should still become the “Super Year for Biodiversity”, despite being the year of the Corona-crisis, a new focus is essential on those sectors of society, which play a supportive role in the Global Goals on biodiversity. Tourism has a significant potential to play that role as much of the business is based on nature and depends on biological diversity. And as shown by the LT&C-Examples, there are increasing cases to be detected, where that works. Our global network of members with expertise in both realms, tourism and conservation, aims to identify, promote, analyse, support, replicate and upscale LT&C-Examples of tourism supporting protected areas and conservation of biodiversity, and call for commitments of tourism networks and business associations towards this goal. We are thereby working with CBD Parties, its Secretariat and business networks to make tourism an implementing force for protected area-related goals.
The tourism industry is not only one of the biggest economies of the world, but at present also one of the most hard-hit by the Corona-crisis. It is, therefore, a question, when Governments provide stimulus packages, to ask which kinds of tourism benefit the future we want and therefore deserves help. Regarding biodiversity protection and the related Global Goals, we are, of course, most concerned upfront about the survival of the LT&C-Example providers and our members involved in tour operations in support of LT&C-Examples. They, from the perspective of protecting an essential asset for the Global Goals, deserve help from governments and others first in the sector.
What the governments of the world as parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) may soon decide as a goal for 2030, to protect 30% of their marine and terrestrial territories, Seychelles has already met this target, and implementation starts in 2021. As The Nature Conservancy reports, the Government of Seychelles has announced the final details of Marine Protection Areas to reach its goal to protect 30% or 410,000 sq. km (158,000 sq. miles) of its ocean.
Diana Körner, our Board member and author of the LT&C-Example “Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation (SSTF)” had the opportunity to interview Helena Sims, Project Manager from The Nature Conservancy for the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan Initiative, about this great success story. The SSTF has been following the marine spatial planning process over the years, with its chair Daniella Payet-Alis being part of the MSP Steering Committee and of the MSP Technical Working Group for Tourism, and sees this as a fundamental milestone for sustainable tourism and conservation in Seychelles, achieved through a multi-stakeholder consultation approach.
Helena, congratulations on this big achievement. Please tell us more about the significance of designating 30% of your EEZ as a MPA for Seychelles?
The Marine Protection Areas are a key part of the new Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan that covers the second-largest area of ocean in the world (after one in Norway) and is the largest plan for tropical waters to account for both conservation and climate change. Designating 30% of its marine area by 2020 means Seychelles has tripled the UN Convention of Biological Diversity target for 10% by 2020 in marine protected areas, and the UN Sustainable Development Goal SDG-14 for 10% coastal and marine protection.
Beyond the Marine Protection Areas, the Marine Spatial Plan as a whole also covers how Seychelles’ remaining 70% of the ocean is addressed in terms of increasing management of all marine resources, regulatory attention, and unified government oversight of all activities that take place to support the country’s Blue Economy.
The announcement of the protection areas delivers on a ‘debt-for-conservation’ deal that Seychelles signed with The Nature Conservancy in February 2016, the first such deal for marine conservation in the world.
Could you explain to us the process involved in reaching this major milestone?
Designation of the Marine Protection Areas and the drafting of ‘allowable activities’ followed perhaps the most comprehensive process of consultation of its kind in Seychelles, to ensure the largest number and diversity of people, businesses, and institutions provided information and input, and ultimately their support, to the planning. More than 200 consultations with Seychelles’ citizens, scientists, and key businesses guided the process which started in 2014.
What is the importance of tourism in relation to existing and new MPAs in Seychelles?
With fisheries and marine-based tourism being the two pillars of the country’s economy, the ocean is central to Seychelles’ development and for the future generations to come. A Marine Spatial Plan is needed to manage conservation and direct sustainable development and climate change adaptation in Seychelles. By taking account of scientific studies that show how well-designed and effectively-managed marine reserves are more resilient to climate change because the pressure is reduced on each ecosystem component, Seychelles is taking precautionary measures to best position its environment and economy for the long term.
The MSP Core team worked in consultation with tourism representatives of Seychelles, such as the chair of the SSTF, to seek input on existing tourism activities, priority areas, and potential future directives to inform the zoning design. Over the last six years over 250 stakeholder consultation meetings were held to propose and discuss new marine protected areas and allowable activities in and management considerations for these areas.
Do you have any words of advice for other countries, wanting to replicate this step of protecting large parts of their (ocean) territory?
The Nature Conservancy is proud to have partnered with Seychelles to facilitate this work and is committed to supporting 20 countries over the next 5 years to help complete their conservation, sustainability, and climate change goals. Jointly, there are many lessons we can share with other ocean states.
Linking Tourism & Conservation (LT&C) is our name; it describes well our mission and what we do. However, some may think we are a group of travel agencies or other tourism businesses. LT&C is a nature conservation organization, an NGO helping making tourism an effective force for the protection of the world’s biodiversity. We know it can work: for this, we have published 39 LT&C-Examples, where tourism is supporting the establishment or management of national parks and other types of protected natural areas. We find that providers of such examples deserve more recognition and attention. They are champions and forerunners demonstrating how tourism can be a more concrete and crucial force to reach the global goal of a complete, representative and a well-managed worldwide network of connected protected areas for safeguarding our biodiversity.
Protecting Life below Water (SDG 14) and Life on Land (SDG 15), linked to addressing climate change, rank as the most important of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) all countries of the world have decided to go for. In global society, on top of increased awareness about the climate crisis, people everywhere have become significantly mobilized on the urgency to protect the world’s biodiversity.
When talking about tourism, most people have all of its negative impacts in mind. And certainly, too many tourists still influence nature in a bad way, not to speak about the effect of their travel on climate. Tourism is a very resilient global economic sector, yet the current crisis is affecting it more than others, in ways that are still being assessed. Let us take the opportunity of this crisis to come up with transformative solutions to deal with the problems it contributes to produce. Tourism has in fact, besides education, the potential to support all the 17 SDGs. That is described in the following joint publication of UNWTO and UNDP, which we recommend to download (click on the picture) and read:
For our German readers: here is also a German version of the publication:
LT&C has been established to focus on SDGs 14 & 15, on Aichi Target 11 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and in corresponding targets in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework currently being developed. Our global network of members with expertise in both realms, tourism and conservation, aims to identify, promote, analyse, support, replicate and upscale LT&C-Examples of tourism supporting protected areas and conservation of biodiversity, and call for commitments of tourism networks and business associations towards this goal. We are thereby working with CBD Parties, its Secretariat and business networks to make tourism an implementing force for protected area-related goals. When the 195 governments, the Parties of the CBD, meet for their COP15 in Kunming, China in October 2020, new goals will have to be decided for the protection of the global biodiversity to be reached by 2030 and beyond. It will be crucial to go for ambitious goals for safeguarding the world’s ecosystems and species. Promising messages are already sent out by some countries, such as Costa Rica and Canada, to strive for that at least 30% of the world on land and sea gets protected; yet in some cases, 30% is not enough. Many players have been proposing that “nature needs half”.
In any case, the tourism sector, which depends on and benefits so much from intact nature, needs to mobilize, voluntarily and through regulation where necessary, to play a role here proportionate to being responsible for up to 10% of the global economy, and much more in many megadiverse countries. The sector needs to actively help convince their governments to decide on the most progressive goals, and then offer themselves to be on the implementing side.
But how will the present Corona crisis affect all this?
As tourism, also the present Corona pandemic can be seen from two or more sides. At least it is causing us all to re-think and re-evaluate how we interact with our world. With the far-reaching shut-down of travel and other economic activities, the pressure on nature is certainly decreasing, which is a good thing. Nature can breathe and recover for a while. And also the climate benefits. However, the crisis in the sector will affect the world as well: jobs have been lost, revenues across the sector have fallen by up to 80%, and there is no perspective of improvement nor a clear strategy on how to address the crisis. What can we learn in this new period, where so much is changing, for the time the health crisis is over?
Presently, for tackling the health crisis, it is most important that everybody is following their government’s decisions and rules. And when it comes to the economic side, governments have to take very difficult and serious decisions, whom to help first and which businesses to save from bankruptcy. Impacts are felt at the upper level in the supply chain but will need to be distributed fairly. This provides also enormous steering power to governments. As all the governments of the world, in regard to the future we want, had subscribed since 2015 to the Sustainable Development Goals, it would be logic to use the SGSs now even more than ever as the road map for everybody for leading us out of both the present health and economic crisis, as well as of since longer existing humanitarian, climate and also biodiversity crises. This could mean that financial survival help should not be spread evenly but clearly be concentrated on people and businesses engaged and contributing to the future we want, described by the 169 targets of the 17 SDGs.
The tourism industry is not only one of the biggest economies of the world, but at present also one of the most hard-hit by the Corona crisis. It is, therefore, a question, when we provide stimulus packages, to ask ourselves which kinds of tourism benefit the future we want and therefore deserves help. In regard to biodiversity protection and the related Global Goals, we are of course most concerned upfront about the survival of the LT&C-Example providers and our members involved in tour operations in support of LT&C-Examples. They, from the perspective of protecting a basic asset for the SDGs, deserve help from governments and others first in the sector.
To just give one example, where tourism plays an important positive role, although needs to be clearly regulated: The national parks of Rwanda, DRC and Uganda, which are the home of the endangered mountain gorilla population. As readable in the “Good Tourism” blog, “Mountain gorillas are highly susceptible to human-borne diseases and might be threatened by COVID-19. The good news is that the International Gorilla Conservation Programme is using the COVID-19 moment to tighten the “Certified Gorilla Friendly” tourism standards it wants to see implemented in Rwanda, Uganda and the DR Congo.” It can be seen as an advantage that those rules presently can be easier implemented in times of heavily decreasing numbers or lack of tourists wanting to have their life experience of watching gorillas in the wild.
At the same time, as the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), which is supported by Conservation International, WWF and Fauna and Flora International, states: “Responsible tourism is a cornerstone of mountain gorilla conservation and crucial to their survival. It is the lifeblood of the national parks and generates vital revenue to support the human needs and aspirations of nearby communities.” This statement we can only underline with the LT&C-Examples, our member Greg Bakunzi is been involved in. With his Amahoro Tours, he is a direct supporter of the Virunga national park and therefore listed at the website of the Virunga Foundation as a credible tour operator. He is also the provider of the Kahuzi-Biéga national park LT&C Example. And with his non-profit organisation Red Rocks he is setting an example of supporting national parks in Rwanda, DRC and Uganda as being a direct supporter of local societies. Green Destinations awarded him therefore in 2018 as the “Best of Africa” among the world’s Top 10 Sustainable Destinations.
There are these kinds of tour operators and LT&C-Examples, which should be seen and supported first, whether in the present time of the Corona crisis or also afterwards and in general. LT&C just at its recent Future Workshop had decided to bring all LT&C-Example providers more closely together and supporting each other. And if we want to see those positive cases growing, where tourism is supporting protected areas, we encourage our LT&C-Example providers to couple with a potential replicator of their example. If they can agree on and design a concrete project and proposal of how their LT&C-Example will be replicated, financial institutions or other donors should be interested to support such efforts.
March 1-2, LT&C members from six countries met on the German islands Rügen and Vilm for looking into the future of linking tourism and conservation. As 2020 will be a pivotal year for the global biodiversity, where the nations of the world have to decide on new goals for the protection of the global biodiversity to be reached by 2030, the positive potential of tourism should not be underestimated. A clear conclusion of the meeting: The global nature conservation network Linking Tourism & Conservation (LT&C) has a responsibility to take an increasing role in making tourism a convincing force for the protection of the world’s biodiversity.
Tourism, which benefits so much from pristine nature, national parks and other protected areas, must at least triple its economic contribution to the maintenance and development of protected areas and local livelihoods. Also, the political and educational support from tourism for a major extension of the global network of protected areas needs to raise significantly to safeguard the biodiversity, human society and also tourism itself depends on.
That this is possible, LT&C has demonstrated through its meanwhile 39LT&C-Examples. It was obvious for the participants of the future workshop that those examples must grow. Therefore, it is seen as essential to make the LT&C-Example providers much more visible, bring them in more contact and cooperation with each other, and find ways that they liaise with LT&C-Example replicators. LT&C in the future will engage much more in projects, where learning from or replication of LT&C-Examples takes place. Such projects should be of interest to financial institutions or other donors focusing on biodiversity protection. They could be based on the valuable and high diverse skills, professions and experiences, which the members of LT&C from both realms, conservation and sustainable tourism, can provide.
In this context regional chapters of LT&C are in planning, first in Africa and in German-speaking countries. That this would be welcomed in Germany was recently expressed in an interview with the Schutzstation Wattenmeer. In Africa, the Red Rock center of our member and LT&C-Example provider Greg Bakunzi in Musanze, Rwanda could be the ideal focal point for a chapter in Africa. He said at the workshop: “LT&C is a global organization that has been working hard with its committed members to link tourism and conservation around the world. To drive the organization further, it is important to have chapters on every continent as branches of the main office. That way the regional members and LT&C-Example providers will work on a day by day basis more closely together, recruit more members and make the concrete work they do on the ground more visible and understandable.”
Our Board member Diana Körner, who speaks for the LT&C-Example Chumbe Island Coral Park, summarized at the workshop: “The LT&C Africa chapter is an exciting new step, as it will allow LT&C-Examples and members from Africa to create more impact, synergies and partnerships at local level through joint study tours, events, education, and outreach formats and the exchange of best practice. Together we can share ideas and solutions to specific issues related to protected area management and ecotourism in the African context.” This was echoed by our King Penguin member Philippe Moreau, who is active with PM Hospitality on São Tomé and Príncipe in West Africa: “Spreading the message of possibilities that can arise from ecotourism is in our key interest! We look forward to welcoming fellow LT&C colleagues on the island and building closer links with the continent under the guidance of Greg from Rwanda.”
Philippe Moreau presented at the workshop his innovative App “Greener Act” – see his presentation:
LT&C is entering a partnership with Greener Act and will soon inform more about this opportunity to bring direct financial support to LT&C-Examples. By using Greener Act as a sustainable digital experience, travellers will be able to participate in local projects and support local causes; at the same time contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. To join and kick-start Greener Act is recommended to all LT&C members and their friends.
Another product, which will support LT&C-Examples, has been announced at the workshop by our Emperor Penguin member Giorgio Scala: together with our Board- member Sergio Chiarandini he plans to launch at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in June a photo-book and photo-library with brilliant images from a series of LT&C-Examples he visited.
Our Board member, Anne Franze-Jordanov, facilitated a highly creative and productive workshop, which outlined in great spirit the future development of LT&C as a nature conservation NGO with major potential, ability but also responsibility for making tourism a convincing force for nature conservation. The future work plan covers a wide range of activities and topics from specific projects, capacity building to the development of a biodiversity and climate fund. To the later spoke the representative of our member South Pole, Hans-Peter Egler. High expectations were expressed by our Board colleague, Oliver Hillel, that tourism must and will play an important role, also as an influencer for decisions, to safeguard and protect the world’s biodiversity.
The Wadden Sea nature conservation NGO Schutzstation Wattenmeer is a founding member of LT&C, and the International Wadden Sea is one of our largest LT&C-Examples regarding its geographical size. We are interested in how this example gains further improvement and whether other regions could learn or do replicate experiences from it. What role in that plays the Schutzstation? We, therefore, approached the CEO of the organization, Harald Förster, with a few questions to this point:
Harald, what was the historical contribution of the Schutzstation Wattenmeer that the Wadden Sea today can be ranked as LT&C-Example, where tourism is supporting the protection of the area?
The Schutzstation Wattenmeer was founded in 1962. At that time she was the first NGO in the Wadden sea region which combines the traditional idea of nature conservation with interests of the people living in the Wadden sea region and tourists using the environment for recreation. Today this is worldwide a common concept of nature conservation, e.g. well described in the Man and Biosphere Programme of UNESCO. The vision of the Schutzstation Wattenmeer of the 1960s was quite progressive but received at that time harsh criticism of politicians, other NGOs and the public.
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. We believe, that the fact that we over the years educated millions of visitors to the Wadden Sea about the values and protection needs of the area, had a major impact for achieving its status of national parks and World Heritage site.
In what way has the support from tourism increased in recent years, and how much of that you relate to the work of the Schutzstation Wattenmeer?
The Wadden Sea at the German North Sea coast is the most popular holiday destination in Germany with an increase of 2-5% per year. Local and regional tourism agencies use the status of the area as a World Heritage as a prominent marketing tool, and the Schutzstation Wattenmeer quite often is mentioned as a best practice example in their marketing strategies.
Which other regions could learn from the Wadden Sea example? Is there already a process to replicate the experiences you made?
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.
Where do you see the value of being a member of LT&C and could that value be increased if we would establish a German-speaking chapter?
LT&C provides for us a very important outreach and link to the international scene of like-minded governmental and non-governmental conservation and tourism-related organisations, institutions and companies around the world. It opens up additional channels for exchanging experiences of both positive examples or coping with common problems, such as overtourism, digitalization, adapting to climate change. We are proud to be a founding member of LT&C and like to offer our experience to others in the world.
A German-speaking chapter would help to build up a growing network of LT&C members and partners in German-speaking countries for creating more communication, exchange of experiences and finally more LT&C-Examples. Another very important point could be to increase cooperation with other German-based organisations and institutions such as the Nationale Naturlandschaften (former EUROPARC Germany) and other Tourist Associations in Germany. Locally and regionally valuable cooperation examples already exist. They could be extended to national and international scales.
Therefore we would support the establishment of a German chapter of LT&C.
2019 was not only the year, where global awareness about the climate crisis has grown significantly. The urgency to protect the world’s biodiversity became equally apparent. The mission of Linking Tourism & Conservation (LT&C) makes more sense than ever: to make tourism supporting the completion of a global network of protected areas as the key tool to safeguard the diversity of nature on our planet. For 2019 we can proudly report that our members were able to show-case eight new LT&C-Examples, where tourism is supporting protected areas. This brings the total number of meanwhile published inspiring examples, others should learn from and replicate, to 38.
After being hosted the last 5 years by Arendal municipality in its Kunnskapshavn, LT&C this month moved its office in Arendal to the “Sustainability House” at Torvgata 7. This is a co-worker house right at the marketplace of the town. In the basement, you are welcomed in an alternative (“unwrapped” products) shop-cafe, and offices in open landscape, as well as meeting rooms, are on the upper floors. Good reasons for LT&C to move here are that everybody is committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is potential for synergy between the different organisations and companies. While others are working with climate, renewable energy or sustainable production and consumption, Linking Tourism & Conservation (LT&C) continues its focus on the biodiversity SDGs.
In times where global awareness about the need of protecting both climate and biodiversity is rapidly growing, LT&C’s mission as conservation organisation makes more sense than ever: to ensure tourism supporting the completion of a global network of protected areas as a key tool to safeguard the diversity of nature on our planet. Therefore we are an organisation that is strongly aligned with what the world had agreed to under the UN Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD): To protect, by 2020, 17% of the land and 10% of the oceans, representing the different ecosystems and habitats. We expect that the new goals to be decided this year for 2030 will be more ambitious. To protect at least 30% of the world for safeguarding biodiversity should be a goal, the tourism industry, which most benefit from national parks and other protected natural areas, should also naturally support.
LT&C continues as a voluntary organisation carrying out its mission with a very lean administration. We do not have any paid staff but bases all of its activities on the voluntary work of its Board and other members.
2020 will be a pivotal year for the global biodiversity. In this context, we are preparing a “Future-Workshop” (March 1-2, 2020, on the islands of Rügen and Vilm, Germany), where specially invited members will participate, contribute and set our own goals. LT&C, which has been established in 2014 as a voluntary organization facilitating and profiling support from tourism for reaching the protected area goals, will use this year to evaluate its contributions and effectiveness and adapt to the new goals, which will be decided in October at the CBD COP15. We have to look into how LT&C can be a leading NGO to make tourism a major advocate and concrete supporter to safeguard global biodiversity. For this purpose, we are preparing a “Future-Workshop” (March 1-2, 2020, on the islands of Rügen and Vilm, Germany), where specially invited members will participate, contribute and set our own goals. This event will be organized exclusively for invited LT&C-members, who are interested to join a strategic workshop outlining the future development of LT&C. Excursions on the island of Rügen and on Vilm will provide insight to the LT&C-Examples Jasmund National Park Center “Königstuhl” and the Tree-Top Walk of the “Naturerbezentrum Rügen”.
For the workshop, we will use the facilities of the International Academy for Nature Conservation (INA) on the island of Vilm. Our member and former director of INA, Prof. Hans Dieter Knapp, has organised the venue and drafted the below programme. The event is scheduled prior to the ITB in Berlin, where traditionally a number of our international members take part.
See the schedule of the event here (a detailed agenda for the workshop the registered participants will get later):
2020 will be a pivotal year for the global biodiversity. The nations and organizations of the world will have to evaluate how far the goal has been reached to protect at least 10% of the ocean’s- and 17% of the land’s space. They will have to analyze how well the different ecosystems are thereby represented and how well the global network of protected natural areas is actually managed. That opportunity is coming soon: 193 governments are scheduled to meet in Kunming, China in October 2020 to adopt new global biodiversity targets. The current set of global goals to end biodiversity loss and restore ecosystems, known as the Aichi Targets, expires this year. At COP15 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), new goals will have to be decided for the protection of the global biodiversity to be reached by 2030.
In parallel to the huge awareness boost last year about the urgency to protect our climate, an impressive movement to safeguard the global biodiversity (known as #30×30) is growing rapidly. And clear connections are made between climate and biodiversity. It becomes common understanding that protecting or restoring 30% of the planet by 2030 for nature itself would provide huge carbon capture as well as biodiversity benefits.
Costa Rica, which LT&C profiles as a leading example, where an entire country is linking tourism and conservation, has become last year also the governmental leader of the #30×30 campaign: on the eve of the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September, President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica, called for the formation of a High Ambition Coalition of nations to push for a Deal for Nature that will protect 30% of the planet by 2030. The governments of Seychelles, the UAE, Monaco, Gabon, and Mozambique have joined the initiative already that time, and more and more are following. As LT&C reported earlier, also Canada wants the world to decide on 30% protected areas as the goal for 2030 and has set already its nation<al goals in this direction.
Other parts of the society had laid the groundwork for this goal. IISD reported already in May last year, that Scientists Call for Protecting 30 Percent of Lands by 2030: “Scientists have issued a renewed call for a ‘Global Deal for Nature’ (GDN) to “save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth” and to “fast-track the protection and restoration of all natural habitat by 2030.” They argue the GDN could provide a companion pact to the Paris Agreement on climate change, which could help conserve species, avoid catastrophic climate change and secure essential ecosystem services.”
As Ocean Unite put it: “Although the Ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s surface it is still woefully under-protected, with only 2% strongly protected from destructive or extractive activities.The science is telling us we need to do much more to ensure a healthy Ocean for future generations.Strong protection of at least 30% of the Ocean is needed by 2030 (30×30) to build the resilience of ocean life to adapt to climate change and buffer it from other threats like overfishing.“
LT&C, which has been established in 2014 as a voluntary organization facilitating and profiling support from tourism for reaching the protected area goals, will use this year to evaluate its contributions and effectiveness and adapt to the new goals, which will be decided in October at the CBD COP15. We have to look into how LT&C can be a leading NGO to make tourism a major advocate and concrete supporter to safeguard global biodiversity. For this purpose, we are preparing a “Future-Workshop” (March 1-2, 2020, on the islands of Rügen and Vilm, Germany), where specially invited members will participate, contribute and set our own goals.
“Do not see sustainability as a trick or marketing tool but as an integral part of the business philosophy” is one of many important findings of a new desk study on Tourism and Nature. The report especially focusses on identifying suggestions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and was conducted by the European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI) within the framework of the Interreg project PROWAD LINK. The 14 project partners in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom working with interested SMEs will use the “nature-business-benefit-cycle” concept to develop new, sustainable products and offers in the pilot regions of the Wadden Sea (DK, D, NL), Geiranger Fjord (NO), Wash & North Norfolk Coast (UK).
For SMEs, the report provides an overview of key trends as well as actionable insights to deal with or anticipate these trends and their implications. Included are hands-on fact sheets on eight special interest topics: cycling tourism, bird watching tourism, kayaking tourism, heritage tourism, walking & hiking tourism, food tourism, fishing tourism, and cold water tourism. The fact sheets and the full report are available for download.
Summary of the Report on Key trends in nature tourism and sustainable travel:
The shift to sustainability.
There is an increasing awareness by many stakeholders such as policymakers, marketing organization, management organizations of (natural) territories as well as amongst visitors and (selected) tourism businesses of the impacts of tourism (e.g. discussion on overtourism, visitor pressure, limits of acceptable change). Sustainability is becoming a ‘standard’ and progressing beyond that as a selection criterion and for places/sites that fully integrate all aspects of sustainability, it can become a reason to travel in itself. As many visitors become more experienced travellers and many news items on the negative impacts of tourism circulate, many visitors become very much aware of the need for sustainability and, in line, many are adapting their decision-making behaviour and onsite travelling behaviour. Visitors are selecting destinations for their attention to sustainability, are willing to actively contribute to these believes and are likewise willing as well as able to positively adjust their spending behaviour. As such, a focus on sustainability offers business opportunities. Moreover, when well- implemented, tourism is able to create value5 beyond merely economic returns and create value for ecosystem preservation, the viability of socio-cultural customs, and an enhanced sense of place and local pride.
The growing demand for meaningful experiences.
For visitors, the quality of experiences is getting more and more decisive. Visitors increasingly search for experiences that matter, i.e. that generate memorable experiences, contribute to their quality of life, or wider (SDG) goals. They are relatively affluent and experienced travellers, which drive their search for quality experiences, uniqueness, authenticity, local culture (including Airbnb), gastronomy but also luxury, convenience, design/architecture and excellent hostmanship/hospitableness. This trend challenges stakeholders to continually enhance the (spatial) quality and experiential value of local tourism products and sites.
The increasing variation in travel motivation (fluid identity of tourists).
Visitors of today trend to have a fluid or hybrid identity: shift and switch from one activity or preference to another. Nature based-tourism could be just one type of tourism or activity that is sought by visitors as a part of or as a stopover in a longer, more diverse journey. For example, combining a city trip with an escape to more rural, natural places. Implications for SMEs are to expand on the multiple reasons- to-travel, to match the fluid identity of tourists and capture the attention are larger groups.
This year was the 30th anniversary of the first biological expedition to Taimyr performed by representatives of the Academy of Science in Moscow and WWF-Germany. Natalia Malygina worked that time as a scientist for the Taimyrsky Zapovednik in Khatanga. She followed the protected area development, which resulted from the Russian-German cooperation in the 1990s. Today she works as a lecturer and researcher at the Ural Federal University. She promotes the Taimyr national park-initiative to fill the last gap in a complete South-North transect of protected areas on the North-Siberian peninsula. In the following interview, LT&C is asking Natalia about the present status of her initiative:
Natalia, what was the original reason you started the Taimyr national park initiative?
Taimyr is the Siberian peninsular of superlatives. Several of its attractions could be of interest for eco-tourists and natural science visitors: It is not only the northernmost part of mainland Eurasia but also the most extensive continuous tundra area of the entire continent. Taimyr represents the highest diversity of tundra habitats and ecosystems and is one of the largest unfragmented wilderness areas of Russia and the Arctic as a whole. It is the crucial breeding area for several shore- and water-bird populations on the Northeast end of the East-Atlantic Flyway. And it hosts the largest wild reindeer population and the biggest (reintroduced) muskox population of Eurasia. There is no better area in the world, where the natural phenomena of lemming cycles and the dependence of other wildlife on it can be studied. Besides the biological treasures, the peninsular on its southern border is inhabited by a unique diversity of indigenous peoples groups, often operating as reindeer herders. Altogether, Taimyr could serve as an ideal site, where the climate adaptation concept of providing protected corridors, where habitats and ecosystems can move, could be applied.
What is the today situation of the protected area network on Taimyr?
Besides the already mentioned superlatives, Taimyr today has one best coverage of protected areas in Russia. More than 20% of the large peninsular is very well preserved by strict nature reserves, such as the Taimyrski Zapovednik in its centre part, or the Great Arctic Reserve in the North, and other types of protected areas. What is still missing, although discussed already 30 years ago, is a link between those two zapovediks, so that an entire South-North corridor could cover the complete sequences of the tundra habitats of the peninsular. To ensure this corridor could be significant in times of climate change and new industrial development interests, growing all over in the Arctic. To design this missing link as a national park could increase investment of eco- or nature-based tourism and provide a base for increased understanding and support of sustainable development on Taimyr.
Is the Ural Federal University supporting your initiative and involved in any way? What about WWF-Russia?
For the Ural Federal University, I present the scientist with the primary and most comprehensive work regarding nature conservation issues of Taimyr and with the focus of getting the national park initiative implemented. From WWF-Russia, I have not received much interest in the national park initiative yet.
What kind of response have you got so far from relevant regional or federal governmental institutions?
I have not yet received an official response from governmental institutions. I still need to find the right contacts and channels to discuss my initiative.
What are your further plans to promote the initiative and how likely do you think it once will be implemented? How can LT&C support a positive development to complete the protected area network on Taimyr?
This year and with facilitation of LT&C, I had the chance to present my work and ideas for the Taimyr National Park Initiative at the Northern Sustainable Development conference of the Northern Forum in Yakutsk. I, therefore, hope that the Northern Forum may also in the future provide some connections to relevant regional governmental bodies and support my ideas in principle. Maybe LT&C could further help to link up with related non-governmental organisations and institutions, such as the Slava Fetisov Foundation, WWF or LT&C-partner “Zapovednik Centre“. The chance that the Taimyr National Park once will be implemented indeed grows with more governmental, non-governmental or research institutions are getting interested in it. And maybe tourism interests could also play an important role.
Canada seems to become the main trend-setter for a more ambitious protected area goal to be reached by the world in 2030 than the present “Aichi target 11” of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Next year at their COP15 in China, the CBD will have to inform the world how far we have reached the 2020-target of getting 10% of the oceans and 17% of the land protected. And new targets, which also should relate to the Sustainable development Goals (SDG), need to be agreed among the world’s environment ministers for 2030. With his mandate letter of December 13 the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, made clear that he wishes that 30% of both land and oceans should be protected area.
Justin Trudeau gave his Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard the following mandate: “Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to introduce a new ambitious plan to conserve 25 per cent of Canada’s land and 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2025, working toward 30 per cent by 2030. This plan should be grounded in science, Indigenous knowledge and local perspectives. Advocate at international gatherings that countries around the world set a goal of 30 per cent conservation by 2030 as well.”
Linking Tourism & Conservation (LT&C) understands itself as a support organisation for the CBD “Aichi target 11”. Showcasing examples (LT&C-Examples), where tourism is supporting protected areas, should have a learning effect and lead to more protection. LT&C looks with great interest to the upcoming post-2020 decisions on protected area goals and certainly will adapt its mission to them. We hope that the new goals will be at least as ambitious as Canada now proposes and will continue to motivate tourism to support them.
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