Lapland is a region extending across Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia that offers spectacular natural landscapes. As one of the places worst hit by climate change, ecotourism has proved a valuable way of preserving this fragile environment.
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Visiting Lapland is an unforgettable experience; the sight of clear, infinite skies, often painted by northern lights, picturesque lakes and untouched forests, stays with every traveler lucky enough to see such places.
However, these beauty is sadly facing a though future. Lapland is in fact a very delicate ecosystem, which, like the rest of the Arctic is being heavily affected by climate change. While the environment and its wildlife will be affected by warmer temperatures, more prolific vegetation and melting ice, such changes will also impact on the local population – the Sami people.
In Finland, it is expected that by 2040, temperatures will rise by 2C in comparison to the end of the 20th century, with effects on reindeer husbandry, hunting and berry picking – activities of the locals.
As a consequence, Santa Claus’ home is turning to ecotourism in order to raise awareness among visitors of the uncertain future of the region. If temperatures rise, winter activities – the core business of Lapland’s tourism sector – will ultimately be affected too.
Some tour operators, such as Outdoor Lapland, have made specific commitments to “take responsibility for nature and the environment by being involved in the discussions and the future development of the area as a destination but also direct concrete by thinking environmentally at everything we do in business.”
Sweden has also launched the first European eco-label for both hotels and tour operators called Nature’s Best – for activities ranging from dog sledding to kayaking.
Photo: Chris via flickr