Caring for the places we love
Wilderness Ireland is committed to the development of Ireland’s sustainable tourism sector. We focus on developing sustainable operational practices and we endeavour to support the local tourism economy in each of the areas in which we work. We also provide financial support to a range of environmental and nature conservation charities. We continue to innovate in order to improve our environmental performance in the communities and habitats in which we work and in implementing best-practice standards both in our office and in the field.
We see tourism as a key player in helping people to enjoy, understand and experience the amazing landscapes and habitats which we are lucky enough to call home. It is our hope that our Irish adventure holidays will open up a more sustainable travel experience to our clients while allowing them to appreciate the value of the natural world.
We aim to provide immersive and engaging experiences, allowing our clients to directly interact with the environments and communities in which we operate. We feel strongly that through these types of positive tourism experiences we can foster an increased connection with landscape and wildlife and promote a more sustainable lifestyle as a result.
Before everything else our adventure holidays are about great experiences and fun and there won’t be any lectures and workshops on sustainability and carbon off-set! However, you will find that our knowledgable and informed guides will help you to develop an understanding of the wonderful natural environments in which you will find yourself and they will help you understand the history, culture and economy of rural Ireland.
We do our very best to ensure that our business activities and the operations are planned in such a way to minimise environmental impact. For example we encourage all our clients to arrive at the start of the trip via public transport, and we aim to keep the use of vehicles to a minimum, encouraging human power, be that by foot, by bike or by kayak.
Local Communities and Economies
While we take our environmental actions very seriously, a key focus of all our Wilderness Ireland adventure vacations is interaction with the local community. While the Irish are famed for their friendliness, we consistently receive feedback from clients who are taken aback by the relationships and encounters with local people, be they spontaneous or organised. We aim to promote the added value that communities, authentic local culture and Irish customs bring to the tourism experience by providing meaningful and genuine opportunities for our clients to meet and interact with local people at every stage of their journey.
Part of the immersive experience that we promote is a commitment to engaging local people and businesses throughout our operation and ensuring that the economic benefits are distributed in a fair and meaningful way throughout the communities in which we work. We actively engage businesses based in the communities that we work, from owner-run and Irish owned hotels and guesthouses to local farm tours, unavailable to the general public. By working with local partners, we are not only able to provide an authentic and real experience to our clients, but we are also ensured a genuine and warm reception wherever we go.
In the Office
Our commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop with the on-the-ground operations on our trips, but also continues through our office procedures. Our approach is based on the familiar premise of reduce-reuse-recycle and we encourage all employees to use public transport where possible.
How we support nature conservation in Ireland
Leave No Trace
Wilderness Ireland is an active, participating member of Leave No Trace Ireland, an outdoor ethics programme designed to inspire responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. Leave No Trace develop relevant and targeted educational and outreach strategies to do their part to pass on our nation’s heritage of outdoor recreation to future generations. Many of our guides are Leave No Trace trained or Leave No Trace trainers, and we actively practice their seven principles for reducing the damage caused by outdoor activities on all our trips.
Our Conservation Contribution Scheme
At Wilderness Ireland we are committed to supporting a range of community based environmental charities, including the BurrenBeo, who proclaims to be “a landscape charity dedicated to connecting all of us to our places and our role in caring for them.”
A small voluntary donation of €10 per person is added to the cost of your trip at the time of booking. Each year we share the proceeds of the voluntary contribution between a BurrenBeo and a few other selected grass-roots environmental charities that are dedicated to the preservation and conservation of Ireland’s natural landscape, environment and wildlife.
Tourism and Climate Change
While a lot has been written on the effect that air travel and its carbon emissions is having on climate change, we have given considerable thought to the issue in order to develop our policy accordingly. In our view simply giving up air travel is not an option. It does not take into account the fact that tourism is the world’s single biggest industry and to halt all air travel would have disastrous economic and social consequences worldwide. There would also be untold impact on various ecosystems and habitats currently protected on the basis that the tourism revenue that they generate out-weighs their value as a material resource.
From an Irish perspective, the estimated revenue from tourism in 2014 was around €6.14 billion. The tourism sector supports 137,000 jobs in the accommodation and food sector alone, and overall employment in tourism is estimated to be in the region of 205,000. For a country with a population of only 4 million, tourism is one of our largest economic contributors. Tying into this is the fact that tourism jobs often occur in regions that have little other economic activity, therefore the development of sustainable tourism in Ireland is key to the country’s future.
We believe that we can operate on a middle ground, where we take as many significant steps as we can to minimise the environmental impact of our operations while still allowing our clients to experience the more remote areas of Ireland in the fullest possible way. We operate on the following principles:
– Encourage all our clients to access the start/end point of our trips by public transport and offering our guidance on how to do so. See our Travel in Ireland section
– Deliver a low-carbon experience in every possible way relating to activities, transport, accommodation and other areas of our trips
– Wherever possible work with local suppliers to reduce their carbon emissions
– Reduce our energy consumption and emissions in all areas of our business wherever possible
– Focus our trips on the areas of Ireland where our business will deliver positive economic, social and environmental benefits to the local community
– Make our clients aware of these issues, to encourage them to offset their own carbon emissions generated by their air travel