At a board meeting held in Longyearbyen on April 24th Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund decided to grant AECO 160.000 NOK (approximately 20.000 USD) to develop more Wildlife Guidelines – one of AECO’s many tools to support sustainable tourism in the Arctic.
Since AECO was established in 2003 the organization has been working for responsible, environmentally friendly and safe tourism in the Arctic. To archive this AECO has developed a number of tools, standards, systems and routines – among which AECO’s different guidelines play a central role. The guidelines AECO’s members are committed to follow are:
- operational guidelines
- visitor guidelines
- guidelines developed to prevent the spread of non-native species in the Arctic
- site-specific guidelines (AECO currently have 20 of these in place in Svalbard)
- Animated guidelines for visitors to the Arctic, and
- Wildlife guidelines
All of which can be accessed and downloaded via www.aeco.no/guidelines
Wildlife Guidelines is an area AECO has already worked with for a number of years. One example of such a guideline is AECO’s Walrus guideline, which can be viewed via: www.tinyurl.com/n9wzeex. With the new funding from Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund this guideline will be followed up by approximately seven additional Wildlife Guidelines about mammals and birds in Svalbard. As is the case with AECO’s existing guidelines these will include general facts about the species, photos of it and a guideline about how to behave around it in order to prevent a negative impact for example because of unnecessary disturbance.
AECO’s new Wildlife Guidelines will be developed by a ‘guidelines committee’ which will be consulting the best available written sources and experts in regard to the animals and birds in question. According to AECO’s Executive Director, Frigg Jørgensen, the work will be initiated as soon as possible and the project group will aim to have the new Guidelines finished and published in 2016.