In April 2016 I travelled to Finnmark in Northern Norway, which is where I grew up. I travelled up there to document different aspects of ecotourism in the area, and how it is utilised to protect the nature and wildlife. In the last 30 years, ecotourism has become increasingly popular all over the world, as both governments and people are becoming more and more aware of the effects humans have on the environment. Ecotourism can work as a great tool for conservation, as it has become clear that there is a lot more money in protecting nature and wildlife than there is in destroying it.
In Finnmark I met with Alf Johansen, a reindeer herder from Lakselv who not too long ago used to take tourists up with him to his herd, to show them his Sami culture and traditions. He decided to stop, because it was too much work for him on his own in addition to reindeer husbandry. However, he sees Sami tourism as a very positive thing as he thinks it is a great way to protect and preserve the culture which in many ways is in danger of disappearing.
Engholm Husky in Karasjok was started by Sven Engholm in the 1980's, and he was the pioneer when it comes to dog sledding tourism in Finnmark. Today his company does a lot more than just dog sledding, and working together with his daughter Liv Engholm and her company Turgleder, they offer skiing expeditions across the Finnmark Plateau and Spitsbergen, reindeer herder experiences, reindeer migration trips and much more. They also offer accommodation at the lodge, a series of designer cabins which are all hand built by Sven Engholm, including all of the interior, mostly with material he has found in nature.
Lemet Arne Graven, a Sami from Karasjok, works together with Engholm for the reindeer experience trips and reindeer migration. He thinks these trips are a great way to teach people about the Sami culture and show tourists parts of their daily life, while it's also providing an extra source of income for reindeer herders. Today, it can be difficult to live solely on reindeer husbandry, and having opportunities like these which Engholm offers, is what ecotourism is all about.
Cuddly Paw Forest is a small, recently started up ecotourism business in Lakselv. It is run by Sandrine and Kai Simon, a couple who are very passionate about nature and spend most of their time outside. In summer they offer guiding trips and walking trips in the mountain, and in winter they go dog sledding with their amazing Greenland dogs. Back home at their farm Sandrine also has a small shop where she sells jewellry and other things she makes with material from nature, and they also sell eggs and firewood. They have a lot of big plans and aspirations for their company, and are dreaming about both of them being able to work only with their own business in the future.