Last updated in March 2022
“The Standard“ lays out the ways of working, standards and principles underpinning ecotourism activities coordinated by WeWilder Association in the bison rewilding area of Armeniș commune in Romania and its surrounding areas.
I. Role of WeWilder
II. Aim of WeWilder’s ecotourism endeavour
III. Guiding principles* in WeWilder ecotourism endeavour
(*inspired by the evaluation criteria for ecotourism destinations in Romania, designed and used by the Romanian Ecotourism Association - AER)
Maximising the social and economic benefits for the local community
The development of ecotourism activities and products is done with the consultation and/or help of the locals and/or local partners.
The ecotourism activities and products developed/promoted by WeWilder, as a result of WWF’s involvement in the last years, are carried out with locals predominantly, as providers of services such as specialised guiding, accommodation, meals, workshops on local crafts and other activities that may be(come) part of the WeWilder’s and its partners’ tourism offer.
Efforts are invested into creating key infrastructure for processing and commercialising local products and in opening up new job opportunities for the young generation (e.g. specialised guides, diversified crafts, etc.).
Efforts are invested into creating ecotourism products that motivate visitors to spend (more) time in the area (e.g. bike trails, activities like cooking or workshops).
Efforts are invested to capacitate or stimulate locals to open up accommodation facilities and ecotourism services that are integrated in, and inspired by the local cultural and natural landscape.
Maximising the benefits for the local cultural heritage
Visitors are being informed about the code of conduct in relationship to the local community, through various communications tools (print material at the Visitor centre, instructions given/reinforced by the guides, main recommendations listed in promotional materials about the tours we organise).
Efforts are being made to pay respect to the local culture, by including elements of the local cultural heritage in WeWilder’s ecotourism offer, but to a degree that doesn’t affect the overall positioning of the area as a destination for nature/wilderness enthusiasts (meals offered are made using local ingredients, accommodation places are built/designed using natural and local materials and traditional techniques and by employing local craftsmen, workshops on local crafts or local gastronomy are included in the ecotourism offer, a calendar of the main community/traditional events is published yearly on channels/places that are visible to visitors etc.).
Enriching visitors’ knowledge about nature and minimising the negative effects of tours/ecotourism activities on nature
Priority is given to recycled and restored/up-cycled materials and objects in the various facilities that are part of WeWilder’s ecotourism infrastructure.
In the various facilities that are part of WeWilder’s ecotourism infrastructure, any consumables, such as paper or detergents, are predominantly recycled and ecologically certified.
Single-use plastic materials are forbidden, except on occasions when no alternative is possible and then the resulting waste is prepared/sorted and taken/sent to the closest recycling facility.
In the design of the facilities, the use of natural light is maximised and all the lighting systems and home appliances in the various facilities that are part of WeWilder’s ecotourism infrastructure use modern technologies that save energy as much as possible.
Efforts are being made to find and implement solutions that capture rainwater, so that it’s used for cleaning purposes, gardening, etc.
All facilities that are part of WeWilder’s ecotourism infrastructure are connected to the public waste water/sewage system or feature their own system of collecting and treating wastewater.
In all facilities that are part of WeWilder’s ecotourism infrastructure, waste is collected separately and contracts are signed with the local waste management service for appropriate disposal.
On tours organised by WeWilder, visitors are instructed in advance to not leave any litter behind and their conduct is monitored while on tour so they comply with the rule.
The use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers is forbidden in all facilities that are part of WeWilder’s ecotourism infrastructure which feature a vegetable garden and/or orchards and/or aromatic plants – natural remedies and fertilisers (coming from permaculture and organic farming) are to be used.
Any vegetable or flower garden or orchard planted or managed by WeWilder in all our local facilities feature only native and/or local varieties and no non-native species are introduced.
Visitors are being informed about the code of conduct in relationship to nature, through various communications tools (print material at the Visitor centre, instructions given/reinforced by the guides, main recommendations listed in promotional materials about the tours we organise), including restrictions on collecting protected plants and wildflowers, maintaining a certain distance from wildlife and complying to indications provided by the guide while on tour. It is further expected, that the guide not just upholds the highest possible standard of ethics toward wildlife, the environment and people but also inspires others to do so.
Information about the bison and its habitat, including the Tarcu Mountains protected area and other wildlife species, is provided through a diverse mix of on and offline communications tools/channels (including at the Visitor centre, in promotional materials about the tours we organise, on relevant websites, by the guides while on tour), so that visitors understand our conservation mission, the interdependencies and interconnectedness between wild species, the characteristics of the local landscape, the local lifestyle, etc.
Our conservation actions/milestones are regularly communicated to the local community and to the visitors and our partners in the tourism sector through suitable communications channels.