UNEP Travel and Conservation

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is linking travel with conservation in order to conserve the Arctic’s habitat.

SvalbardThe UN News Centre reports that a joint campaign by conservation groups and tour operators in the 1990’s has helped set up protected areas in Svalbard, Norway.  Svalbard is the closest tourism outpost to the North Pole, which is 1,000 kilometres away.  The sustainable tourism initiative has enacted new laws protecting biodiversity and has led to the successful protection of polar bears and other native species in the area.

Currently in Norway, partners UNEP and GRID-Arendal are planning to replicate the success in Svalbard by studying how sustainable tourism can support the management and development of protected areas.

Norway Arctic ShipIn June 2010, participants from 12 countries met in Arendal to discuss how tourism and biodiversity protection in marine protected areas can lead to conservation successes, reports UNEP.  The meeting decided that financial, educational and political support are all important.  Although differences between areas makes establishing criteria that can be used to replicate successful tourism/biodiversity connections difficult, the aim of UNEP’s Linking Tourism & Conservation (LT&C) initiative is to show, learn from and replicate positive examples where tourism supports the management and development of protected areas.

UNEP and GRID-Arendal are hosting a study expedition to Svalbard for conservationists, journalists and members of the public.  They also plan to create an interactive map of tourist destinations engaged in conservation work that will allow travelers to view a destination’s green credentials before booking their trip.  All hail green tourism!

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