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Sustainable Arctic Tourism Association


 

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2. OPERATES IN AN ENVIROMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE MANNER


Collaborating with Parks Canada

Trail of the Great Bear of Alberta says they design all elements of their tour packages with care and work closely with Park Canada:

  • Participation in park planning and strategy development and delivery
  • Use of park interpretive planning
  • Publications and programs carry park messages
  • Tour packages based on ecosystem-based experience and interpretation
  • Financial contribution to Park interpretation
  • Participation and initiation in relevant research
  • Provision of qualified interpreters and guides
  • Distribution of visitation

Nutti Sami Siida, Jukkasjaärvi-Seppero, Sweden

It has always been natural for us to work with sustainable development because we are dealing with Sami tourism. The Sami culture is like that and has always been that you don’t leave visible tracks in nature. Working with sustainable tourism and Nature’s Best is only strengthening our work towards sustainable development. Therefore we chose to work in small groups – we do not want to put on too much pressure on nature.

STF The Mount Hut of Grovelsjon, Sweden

We started to source-separate waste as early as 1993, a very symbolic action...We were even reported for recycling too much paper. The fact is that the contractor was paid less for our garbage. We reduced the costs from 60,000 to 13,000 Swedish crowns at once. ...Today the contractor is very grateful for the diligence we showed.

Now he’s taking care of all recycling and has also improved his work environment. We, on the other hand, have become experts in recycling and have opened a dialogue with the community. It has contributed so that the community has become really good at source-separation.

Pyhän Asteli, Finland

“In food and accommodation, we sort out the waste: card board, bottles, glass, papers. But it is very frustrating, when they still end up all in the same place.”

Loch Ossian Youth Hostel

Loch Ossian Youth Hostel is located on the edge of Loch Ossian in the north part of Rannoch Moor.The hostel generates all of its own electricity via small 2.2 KW wind turbine. [It] creates enough energy for the hostel [including] lights, fire alarm and the two pumps – one for the central heating and the other for the grey water filtration system. The energy created by the wind turbine is stored in 12 x 2 volt batteries which stores a 24 volt charge which will keep the hostel running for seven to 10 days if there is no wind.

The grey water filtration system works by capturing all of the water from the wash hand [sic] basins and sinks into a holding tank which drains through a sieve to separate solids, such as food scraps, which are cleaned and used in the composting. From the holding tank the water is pumped up to a fabricated soil bed through which the water drains through smaller and smaller particle sizes to filter clean the water. The water trickles through to the reed bed where it is taken up into the plant roots.

The dry toilet system works through ventilation which aerates the toilets, providing oxygen to process wastes which are broken down by biological decomposition which in turn is facilitated by organic compost. A small photovoltaic panel position on the side of the toilet building powers the ventilation fan.

Polar Sea, Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

Buying in bulk minimizes packaging in the first place. Additionally, we remove as much food packaging as possible before we leave town. This reduces enormously what we have to bring back in garbage bags later.

We absolutely rule out styrofoam cups. We use thermal mugs instead which can be washed and re-used for years.

Alaska Wildland Adventures

[We] approach all wildlife in such a manner that our presence does not disturb them or change their behavior. This will sometimes require observing animals from a distance even though the opportunity exists to get closer. [We] avoid critical habitat areas, such as nesting areas, that are particularly important to wildlife survival. (quoted from their website)

Isle of Mull Wildlife Expeditions, Scotland

[David Woodhouse’s] approach to viewing animals is low impact. He will alert visitors to particular types of signals coming from birds or animals which suggest that they may be distressed by their presence. In such cases they back off and leave the animals to carry on without disturbance.

Quoted from Greening Scottish Tourism: Ten Best Practice Case Studies.

Polar Sea, Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

During our spring trips (floe edge) we travel with our clients on the sea ice. At night, when we set up camp, we could choose to put our tents up on the land which would be warmer (or in any case, seem warmer to our clients). Instead we camp on the ice (and we provide good bedding for our guests). This means that once the ice melts in the summer there will be no trace of our ever having been there.

Isle of Mull Wildlife Expeditions, Scotland

When touring visitors, [David Woodhouse] takes people by Land Rover to well known viewing spots. He does not drive off-road to prevent impact to the landscape. Some visitors express an interest in driving off-road but he explains that to see wildlife it simply isn’t necessary as everything can be accessed by road.

Quoted from Greening Scottish Tourism: Ten Best Practice Case Studies.

Kairosmaja, Pyhäa area, Lapland Finland

We do not use any motorized transportation when moving in nature. When we are in nature, we advise our customers not to leave any trash behind, but to bring it back with them. One example is that we use wooden sticks instead of plastic servers when possible and the guests bring their own dishes (cups) with them.

Polar Sea, Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Canada

On our floe edge trips I used to ask visitors if they would like to try driving a snowmobile. Many of our guests have never had the opportunity to do this. Then I heard that snowmobiles cause far more pollution than any car does. Since then we have kept snowmobile use to a minimum and there is no driving around just for the fun of it.

Ultimate Adventures of Grande Prairie, Canada

Ultimate Adventures of Grande Prairie has demonstrated leadership in ecotourism by developing comprehensive policies for all areas of its business. Shutting off the vehicle engines while waiting, parking only in parking lots and not on vegetation along roadways, and not using disposable coffee cups while travelling are examples. These policies are helpful in communicating what good tourism practices look like to guides and other staff members.

Luostola horsefarm, Finland

“Here in Lapland there are no ‘muddy seasons’ meaning that you can ride a horse pretty much all year long, when you choose drier places and do not cause damage. You can avoid causing a lot of damage by choosing and planning your routes. When the customers ask, why we use the same routes or paths, we tell them because it is better for the environment not to make new routes every time you ride a horse.

Of course, we can have variation by changing the direction. And people accept this, they are even glad about it. Sometimes we go to a deep snowdrift. We avoid certain places, because the horse tramples quite heavily and the erosion happens during winters also. If we know that there is moss underneath the snow, we tell that. We also tell about other things in the nature like ant nests and we take those into account during winters too.”

Rid I Jorm, Sweden

The company Rid I Jorm arranges tour riding with Icelandic horses, cave expeditions and mountain hiking with packhorses.

"Our biggest impact on nature is the wearing from our horses. Currently there is very little knowledge about wearing of the ground and therefore we put in a lot of work in learning more about the impacts and sharing our knowledge. We are studying how clearly you can see the marks made on the ground and comparing how long it takes before they disappear on different kinds of vegetation. We then report everything to local authorities including a plan of action.

Nowadays we think about the nature's restrictions [capacity] in the areas we are riding in and we ask ourselves these questions: How much can this ground bear? Is it best to ride side by side or is it better for the ground to ride in a row and by that create trails? And in that case, can other people use the trails? And can the ground recover from that? We know what vegetation we can ride on and we know which one we can't ride on because the marks don't go away.

We pass the knowledge to our guests because it's important to explain what happens when we are riding in the sensitive mountain area. They are interested and they do care - they enjoy untouched nature and think it's positive that we care about it."

Snow Games, Finland

We have implemented a Quality, Safety and Environment- system in our company for 3 years. During that time, all the operative processes have been documented. Those process descriptions work as a guideline and are available for all the staff to study. The staff are also trained to use the operation models in their daily activities.

Measurements have been made in the consumption of oil and fuel. Different types of accidents have been monitored and they have been compared to the figures in the accounting reports. Previously, if the costs had been lower, the staff were awarded by giving them a bonus to the salary. Now customer surveys have been implemented – especially safaris lasting several days are evaluated. Oral feedback has also helped us to evaluate the service. If anything out of ordinary happens, for example accidents among the staff or customers during snowmobile safaris, they will always be dealt with.

Hotel Pyhätunturi, Finland

“We have manuals for the staff. When we were involved in the YSMEK project, (a national environment project for tourism companies), we began the work by mapping out our present working methods. We bring a strategy to our staff and there are listed indicators for measuring sustainability. We have had concrete results from minimizing energy, water consumption and waste. We purchased new showers, which only let through 8 liters of water per minute compared to the old ones that let 21 liters. This can be seen in savings in warm water and it also saves oil that goes to the heating of the water. We produce district heating ourselves. With these investments we were able to save 30 % in the costs and in the water consumed.”

“As a compensation of water intake, we plant fish in the lake. We have an agreement currently with a fishery collective on planting fish.”

“Operating in an environmentally friendly manner, means small things such as using re-chargeable ‘smart’ ski lift tickets. We have been able to reduce ticket waste from 100.000 to 30.000 compared to the old tickets. A lot of the things we do have become obvious to us although we don’t market that in the brochures. We print paper on an environmentally friendly paper, use eco toilet paper, etc.”

“Throwing trash into nature is almost like committing a crime. Because we have lived for a long time in the vicinity of the national park, we abide by the rules. We sort out paper, cardboard, glass and aluminum. During the YSMEK project, we agreed that the supplier takes all cardboard away. Generally speaking, waste amounts have reduced quite a lot.

We have eliminated all disposable packages that we could. Before we make purchases, we already consider what products we want and what we will sell.”

Arctic Vision (Yukon & Alaska) talks about fixed-roof facilities:

“During their construction phase, Arctic Vision made every effort to disturb as little as possible of the natural setting. Any areas that had to be disturbed were returned to their natural state. We designed everything to blend with the park.”

 


 

   

SAT - Sustainable Arctic Tourism

 

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