This Arctic region is one of the largest and most pristine wilderness areas in Europe. It is a reservoir of biological diversity, a place of great spiritual and historic interest and one of the most spectacular natural landscapes found on earth.
As a tourism company operating here, we have a huge responsibility to not only minimise the environmental footprint of our actions as much as possible but also to play a role in securing a sustainable future for the Arctic environment.
We believe that there is inherent value in the landscape itself. We also recognise that the freedom to explore, to travel by dog sled, to climb and to ski is all part of the wider need for the appreciation of nature and scenery, as recognised by the World Conservation Congress in 1996. People have a thirst for adventure and generations to come should be able to enjoy the same clean air, unique landscapes and wildlife, scenic beauty, culture, history and recreational opportunities that we do today.
On a day by day level, therefore, we operate in accordance with Enontekio municipality’s environmental protection regulations but more importantly, we strive to set a good example in the way in which we drive best practices in our business activities and habits. This is a simple step but one which is in the 'right' direction.
As part of this, we use well insulated building materials during construction and renovation and choose durable over cheaper materials whenever building, in an attempt to consume fewer resources over time. On a similar note, we build all of our dog cages as elements that can be reassembled in new locations or used in different ways, should we have to ever move the cages in the future.
We also use energy and water saving devices and practices where-ever possible (eg collecting rain water in barrels for using for cleaning floored cages, etc) and we monitor the consumption of both. We use fires both in the house and in the farm buildings to reduce energy consumption. The wood is primarily taken from our own lands in Spring and Summer from trees which need to be cut anyway, when thinning the forest to keep it at a healthy density (we monitor the sustainability of use from our lands carefully since trees grow slowly in the arctic). Wood needs for building that we cannot meet from our own lands, are purchased from local saw mills.
We drive sound waste management practices in the office, farm and on wilderness safaris (everything, including the dog poop from overnight camps, is brought back to base).
Sourcing sustainably is also something that we think about since utilising short supply chains has a huge global impact on resource use. However, shopping locally is not always so easy when there are only three shops to choose from so, in as far as we can, we do. We purchase reused or recycled products whenever possible – for instance, the waste material from paper mills that is used as a covering for our 'fabric' kota - and then, in turn, we reuse and then recycle our own paper and plastics.
Anna generally comes back from trips to the local landfill site with more than we take there (much to Pasi's despair) but from these scavenging hunts we have collected enough decent timber to make agility obstacles for the dogs throughout the farm and farmhouse area and to build boardwalks across marshes between the farm and farmhouse, thereby extending the trail network around the farm which is accessible by bike. We have also resurrected bikes into working order for guide use and we have even scavenged and fixed up (and then given away to a local children's group) a functioning fuse ball table! We definitely don't believe that things should be thrown away carelessly in a world in which overconsumption is rife. Anna considers this kind of ‘dumpster diving’ to be the ultimate in post-consumer recycling (even though Pasi might not really agree!) since forums like freecycle and wrap.org.uk for sharing goods and sourcing reclaimed building products don't really exist in the far north.
We buy c. 70% of our kennels from a cooperative called Team Fix in Kiruna which, although a long way away, is a company that we support since it is based upon the principle of work rehabilitation for those who have been outside of normal society (eg ex alcoholics) and who need training and support in order to function in a work environment. The business is run by the municipality of Kiruna as a social action programme intended to give people with different degrees of disability opportunity for employment with the rehabilitative aspects and eventually within the standard labour market. Whenever we are shopping further afield, or when simply travelling to nearby airports - we communicate with others in the community to see if we can either car pool or shop pool, thereby reducing community carbon requirements.
On a similar vein, we minimise waste and foster cooperative attitudes with local businesses by, for instance, buying meat directly and using left-over bones from local reindeer herders, utilising unsold meat products from the local shop and left-over food from a local hotel as treats for the dogs. These simple steps keep money and goods circulating within the local community and economy and reduce emissions created by the transport of goods over long distances.
Essentially, we reduce environmental impact from our operations as far as possible by continually reviewing and improving our activities as part of our social, environmental and ethical risk assessment process. The impact and materiality of each risk area is considered and appropriate measures are taken to manage or mitigate them.
We have baselined our environmental standards and activities with the help of an intern from Forum for the future (an independent non-profit working globally with business, government and other organisations to solve complex sustainability challenges) and we also signed up, in 2011, to be a partner of the Leave no trace Alliance, and as such, are committed to following the 7 defined 'Leave no trace' principles. centred on a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. At present, we are also in the process of baselining our practices against the quality requirements for partners of the European Ecotourism Network.