Westfjords Economic Growth Agreement
The project is a joint effort between The Arctic Fox Centre, The Westfjords Natural History Institute (NAVE), Westfjords Research Centre of University of Iceland (UN-West), West Tours and Borea Adventures. The main goal is to develop sustainable wildlife tourism with the focus on the specialties of Westfjords.
For decades, the arctic fox has been regarded a vermin and the municipalities of Westfjords have spent a lot of money in hunting efforts. This is something we wish to change by highlighting the species as the flagship of the area and make it become an important economic resource in wildlife tourism.
In the considerable small area of Westfjords, we have incredible access to various wildlife, such as the huge birdcliffs of Latrabjarg and Hornbjarg (puffins, razorbills, guillemots, kittiwakes...) , eider colonies, arctic tern colonies, tame arctic foxes in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, curious seals along the coastline, various whales (humpbacks, orca´s, minke, dolphins..), etc..
The plan is for example:
1) to map the wildlife, locations, access and seasonal highlights
2) to map the tourists and their expectations and experience
3) to perform a study on tourist effects on arctic foxes
4) to offer specially guided wildlife tours and active traveling
5) to educate on wildlife
a. by exhibitions (NAVE and the Arctic Fox Centre)
b. by courses for guides and others
6) to set up signs and print brochures
7) to market the wildlife in a sustainable way
Furthermore, the group is an active cluster partner in a Nordic collaboration named "The Wild North" with partners from Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands and Northern Norway. We join effort in developing sustainable wildlife tourism and work on a "target species" which can be regarded as a characterized animal of each region. In the Westfjords of Iceland, the arctic fox is our flagship and this is the only region that has easy access to all the other animal groups the other partners work on, e.g. whales, seals, cliff birds (puffins), sea eagles, ... so we consider us quite lucky and also responsible for making most out of it, in a sustainable way