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Selected Trips

    Sustainable Tourism

    Caring for the places we love

    Making the Right Choices

    In choosing Wilderness Scotland you can be sure that you are travelling with a company that takes its commitment to sustainable tourism seriously. We have been dedicated to operating in as sustainable a way as possible since the very beginning of our company and, in addition to our Conservation Contribution Scheme, we provide financial and volunteering support to a range of great projects in Scotland and, occasionally, further afield.

    Our vision for the 21st Century is one in which tourism can play a major role in helping people to enjoy, experience and connect with the amazing natural environments in which we live.

    Our commitment has been recognised in many awards over the years including twice winning the Best Green Tour Operator in the World Travel Awards. For over 15 years we have held a Gold Award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme – recognised as the world’s most credible Sustainable Tourism Programme.

    Find out more about Wilderness Scotland’s commitment to sustainable tourism below.

    Wilderness Climate Emergency Declaration

    Our business was created to share our passion for the inspiration, spirit and value of the natural environment. What we didn’t know when we started our business many years ago, was how significant the threat of a changing climate would become. While we have always sought to run an environmentally sustainable business (and have been independently recognised several times for doing so), we feel the time has now come to ramp up the action, work harder and act more creatively to respond to the climate emergency with renewed focus and energy.

    The Tourism Industry

    Alongside other industries, tourism plays a contributing role to the climate crisis and we acknowledge this requires an urgent need for change across the industry. The paradox is that travel and tourism can be an amazingly positive force for good. Well managed, sustainable tourism supports local economic development, sustains local communities and traditions and shines a light on nature and wildlife conservation.

    Built upon this philosophy, our mission is to maximise these positive benefits of tourism while seeking to minimise the negative impacts. As part of our Climate Emergency Declaration, we aim to evolve our low carbon approach to business further and become climate positive by the end of 2021. What does being “climate positive” actually mean and is it even possible?

    Becoming Climate Positive

    Our work over the past two decades has taken us a long way to this “climate positive” goal already but there remains a lot of work to be done. The recent design and development of our own carbon-neutral net zero HQ, powered by renewable energy on a brownfield site in the Cairngorms National Park is a sign of our commitment. Over the next 12 months, we’ll continue to push harder and respond faster to make further reductions to both our direct and indirect carbon emissions based upon the most extensive measurement and benchmarking exercise we have ever done.

    Further reduction is our first and overriding priority and we will continue to seek out innovative methods and approaches to achieve this across all aspects of our business. However, where reductions simply cannot be made, we will be working with Climate Neutral Now – the United Nations Carbon Offset platform to purchase carbon credits in projects which reduce, avoid or remove certified emissions from the atmosphere. Our aim by the end of 2021, is to purchase credits which not only offset our unavoidable emissions but additionally invest in projects which deliver a positive carbon impact.

    This is an ambitious goal which will challenge our commitment, creativity and collective resources. In making the commitment to be climate positive, we are not totally sure it’s achievable but we are 100% focused on trying. Even if we are successful, we recognise that the overall contribution in global terms will be absolutely minute. However, as a business that feels passionately about our planet, we don’t doubt for a minute that it’s absolutely the right thing to do. We commit to updating on our progress regularly and reporting on our website on an annual basis.

    Find out More at Tourism Declares

    World’s Leading Green Tour Operator

    Head of Guides & Training, Myles Farnbank, shares some thoughts on our vision for sustainable tourism.

    Our Projects

    While the Conservation Contribution Scheme is the focus of our support for environmental conservation, we also engage with several other projects each year which embody our spirit and passion for adventure in wild places.

    Cairngorm Schools Ski Access Programme Read More

    Start Date: December 2016
    Project Coordinator: Paul Easto

    Working with the long-established Cairngorm Ski Club, our support for the ski access program provides high school children with the opportunity to ski on their local mountain during the spring term.

    For one day each week (yes, during term time!), pupils from Kingussie High School and Grantown Grammar School can sign up to ski at Cairngorm Mountain with transport, ski passes and equipment taken care of. The focus for this project is children who might not otherwise get the opportunity to enjoy the magic and fun of skiing, as well as providing additional training for more experienced skiers looking to compete regionally and nationally.

    Wilderness Scotland provides financial support to the programme each year, loans vehicles free of charge to transport the pupils and occasionally (and always when conditions are great!) provides volunteer support on the mountain.

    Spirit of Scotland - The Family Holiday Association Read More

    Start Date: September 2016
    Project Coordinator: Tom Devereux

    As part of the Spirit of Scotland initiative led by the national tourism agency, VisitScotland, we have partnered with The Family Holiday Association to provide vulnerable and disadvantaged families with an adventurous short break in the Highlands.

    Working with local accommodation providers, Wilderness Scotland provides a day of adventure in the Cairngorms National Park for several families each year. These adventures including canoeing on Loch Morlich or mountain biking through Rothiemurchus Forest.

    These are families that are on low income and are struggling with some of the toughest challenges that life can bring. They haven’t had a break for several years and in many cases, the families have never had a break together at all.

    The breaks are distributed by the Family Holiday Association, which works with local charities and support organisations in Scotland to identify the families that will benefit most from the breaks. You can read more about the FHA and initiative here.

    The Big 60 Read More

    Start Date: January 2014
    Project Coordinator: Melanie Clouston

    The objective of the Big 60 is simple – The Wilderness Office Team will dedicate 60 days to volunteering each year.

    This commitment involves each member of the Wilderness Team contributing 2 days of voluntary service to take place during work time. We started off with the Big 40 project 2 years ago, this became the Big 50 last year and, with our office team growing to 30 people, the Big 60 is now the target.

    There are no restrictions on the type of volunteering and recent work has taken the team in some interesting and rewarding directions both close to home and further afield. Recent volunteering efforts include:

    • Footpath repair and renewal in the Cairngorms National Park
    • Native reforestation work with the RSPB
    • Mentoring for young adults in Inverness
    • Training and development for tourism businesses in the Balkans
    • Driving for the community car scheme in Aviemore


    Making a Difference

    The Environment

    Through the provision of engaging experiences from wilderness to wildlife, we are firmly of the view that positive tourism experiences have the capacity to foster a strong connection with the natural world and promote more sustainable living in these challenging times we currently face.

    We never forget that first and foremost our adventures are about great holiday experiences so, don’t worry, we won’t be holding evening lectures and workshops on embedded carbon and alternative energy! However, you can expect our experienced and knowledgeable guides to develop your understanding of the amazing environment in which we live.

    Our business activities and trip operations are purposefully designed to minimise environmental impact and operate on a low carbon basis. For example, all of our group holidays start at mainline train stations and we keep the use of motorised vehicles to a minimum. We are all about experiencing the wilderness using human power, be that on foot or by bike, kayak, canoe and sailing boat.


    Local Communities & Economies

    A Wilderness Scotland experience is defined not only by its environmental qualities, as integral to the experience is an involvement and interaction with local communities.

    We consistently receive feedback from clients that the encounters and relationships with the local population are one of the most enjoyable and memorable elements of a trip to the Highlands and Islands. We strongly support this view and recognise the wonderful contribution and added value that communities, culture and customs make to the tourism experience.

    We are absolutely committed to engaging local businesses throughout our entire operation and ensuring that the economic benefits are distributed in this equitable way. As well as providing a great service to our clients, by working with local partners it also means that our groups always receive a warm welcome from the locals wherever we go.


    In the Office

    As part of our business wide commitment, we’re working hard to do all the good stuff that any responsible company should do. This approach is based upon the familiar mantra of reduction, re-use and recycle.

    The good people at the Green Tourism Business Scheme have helped us along the way setting the standards which form part of our Gold Award accreditation. You can read more about the scheme and what it involves here green-tourism.com/about-us

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