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 39 LT&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.
The workshop participants took also the advantage of visiting and studying the two LT&C-Examples on the island of Rügen: the Jasmund National Park Center „Königsstuhl“ and the Treetop Walk of the Naturerbe Zentrum Rügen (see also interview with Bernd Bayerköhler from the Erlebnis Akademie AG). The Naturerbe Zentrum, as well as the International Academy for Nature Conservation (INA) on the Island of Vilm, were the hosts of the two-days future workshop. Many thanks go also to our member and former director of INA, Prof. Hans-Dieter Knapp, for his inspiring guiding through the LT&C-Examples and the regional history of nature conservation.
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.