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    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 two decades ago. We have taken an industry leading position on climate change and emissions reductions and deliver significant support each year to environments and communities through our pioneering Conservation Contribution Scheme.

    Our vision for 21st century tourism is one in which the industry 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.

    What is Wilderness Doing?

    Together with eCollective, we’ve developed one of the world’s first carbon labelling schemes for travel. As a result of our carbon labelling project, we’ve been able to not only measure the carbon impact of the entire business but of each and every trip. This work has been and will continue to be essential for monitoring our progress and identifying ways in which we can continue reducing our impact year on year.

    Learn more about our methodology here.

    Our Road Map to True Net Zero

    • By 2030 we commit to reducing our emissions by 90%.
    • Between 2022 and 2030, where we can’t reduce, we will invest in projects that remove, avoid or reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Our goal is to achieve True Net Zero Status by the end of 2030, investing solely in projects that permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere for those emissions that remain.

    What Does This Mean For You?

    Our offsetting and removal efforts address the impact of each individual trip, so you can book your adventure holiday with the knowledge that your carbon impact is already being mitigated.

    Want to Do More?

    The impact of your trip is already taken care of but if you want to do more, please take a look at our Conservation Contribution Scheme. We ask all of our travellers to donate a small amount at the time of booking. This is entirely optional but the funds go into various conservation projects across Scotland, as well as carbon removal.

    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. Climate change is happening now and that is why we became one of the founding signatories to the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency and the Glasgow Declaration. Our commitment to reducing emissions is the response we feel is needed across the travel industry. Backed by science and with expert independent input, we have committed to reducing our carbon emissions by 90% by 2030 (9% per annum for 10 years from 2020). For those emissions we cannot eliminate by 2030, we undertake to permanently remove the carbon equivalent from the atmosphere by investing in reforestation and afforestation projects. Through this approach our goal is to achieve “True” Net Zero status by 2030.

    Progress to Date

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

    You can read more about our approach to Climate Change on these pages, including details of how we have measured our carbon footprint and developed one of the world’s first carbon labelling schemes for travel. We hope such labelling will become the norm allowing us all to make more informed and better decisions on where and how to travel. We will report on our progress on an annual basis and share this on our website and in communications with our clients.

    Find out More at Tourism Declares

    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.

    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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