WWF Sweden and Rewilding Europe point out nature as very important for tourism

July 28, 2014

WWF Sweden together with Rewilding Europe, the Swedish Ecotourism Association, Nature Travels (UK), Anders Reisen (Germany) and other organisations call for Sweden’s government after the elections this fall to put much greater priority on better and stronger nature conservation efforts. A call that was published in a large debate article in the very influential newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Sarek National Park, Laponia World Heritage Site, Sweden
Sarek National Park, Laponia World Heritage Site, Sweden
Peter Cairns/Wild Wonders of Europe

A recent poll, commissioned by WWF Sweden, indicates that tourists visiting Sweden values the country’s unique nature highly. One of the main reasons that they travel to Sweden is to experience beautiful and reasonably unspoilt nature. Tourism today has a share of 3% of Sweden’s GDP, which is more than the agriculture and steel industry all together. Export-wise, tourism is bigger than the Swedish steel industry.

Nature-based tourism had a turnover of 3,6 billion SEK (c. 400 million euro). All the above taken together makes very good reason for Sweden to raise its ambitions when it comes to nature conservation, where it is today falling behind many European countries, mean the signing organisations. The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2014, a joint project run by Yale University and the World Economic Forum and others, with regards to nature conservation and biodiversity ranks Sweden only as number 89 of 178 globally. Here countries like Greece, Romania and Albania do better than Sweden, whilst Germany and Switzerland get top rankings. Out of 35 European countries, Sweden ends up on 26th place, according to the EPI 2014 list.

The beautiful and unique nature, that has such value for Sweden, is now risking to become a mere illusion, destroyed by exploitation combined with poor protection and poor nature management. The fundamental problem is the fact that Sweden’s flora and fauna, forests, mountains, meadows and pastures, lakes, streams and seas are not covered by adequate and forceful enough protective measures. Sweden has only reached to about half of what the government has committed to do by 2020.

”The Swedish government must take better care of the country’s ecosystems. Especially if Sweden doesn’t want to miss out on what the thriving natural world can give back through the nature tourism sector”, say the signing organisations in their debate article. “We are sad and chocked that not more of Sweden’s unique and beautiful nature is better protected. We call for the government to be formed in Sweden after the elections this fall, to give much higher priority to better and stronger nature conservation measures. It is high time that Sweden starts living up to the unfortunately undeserved environmental reputation it has in the world”.

See the debate article in the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbaldet, signed by several organisations, with Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe, among them: http://www.svd.se/opinion/brannpunkt/svensk-natur-en-turistmagnet_3774474.svd

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