A step in the right direction: Finnish Ecotourism


Shooting and ‘trophy hunting’ are sadly common in many European countries to a certain extent. Included in the list of species which are hunted for sport is Ursus arctos arctos (European Brown Bear). In Finland, Brown Bears were once hunted to a more damaging degree, for both sports purposes and population control. Now, Bear hunting is strictly limited and controlled in each region, which allows hunters to shoot a maximum of 250 bears per year. Luckily, the population of Brown Bears in Finland is around 1800 and rose 15% in 2017. Hunting is strictly policed, and every time a bear is killed it must be reported immediately. Hunters can pay up to £5,000 per bear killed, during the hunting season.

Luckily in more recent years, the conservation focus has shifted in this country, and in other European countries (Such as Sweden). Brown Bear related ecotourism, in a less intrusive and more sustainable form is proving much more effective in terms of allowing predator populations and the boreal ecosystem to thrive, and not only from a population perspective. Economically, Brown Bear related ecotourism in Finland is exceptionally productive and generates an estimated £5-8 million per year. Brown Bear observation hides allow people to get close to these apex predators, and admire them in a very different and inconspicuous way.

In addition to Brown Bear observation, both Wolverine and Wolf watching also generates ecotourism. Predator hides generate approximately £48,000 per night during the summer months when predator activity is high. Not only is this means of ecotourism much less harmful, but far more economically beneficial in comparison to hunting predators for trophies. With many predator populations threatened by hunting and persecution across Europe, maybe predator ecotourism and stricter hunting quotas will become more common.