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Community Guidelines

Trek Union Advocacy Guidelines

To be eligible to join Trek Union’s community of best-in-class active adventure and experience operators we ask that organization accept these guidelines and ensure that any tour advocated through Trek Union follow them.

General Criteria

    • Direct Support for Environmental and Sustainable Wildlife programs, and/or Cultural Conservation, and/or Community Development Programs: This includes employment for local citizens, support for responsible infrastructure development, prioritization for keeping wildlife wild, and monetary and/or in-kind donations that directly support the destinations visited.
    • Strong Educational Programs: Tours that educate travelers (and ideally local residents) about issues impacting wildlife, the environment, and local communities.
    • Reduced Impact: Partners actively reduce waste, greenhouse pollution, consumption of fossil fuels, and other negative impacts of tours.
    • Patronage of Local Businesses: Partners use local guides and locally-owned services, accommodations, and restaurants wherever possible.

General Wildlife Interaction Guidelines

If tours involve viewing wildlife in the wild, tour operators should attempt to follow ethical viewing practices.

  1. Always respect wild animals:
    • Never feed a wild animal unless as part of an official rehabilitation program.
    • Keep a respectable distance and if the animal shows signs of fear or aggressiveness, back off immediately and give the animal plenty of space to move on.
    • Avoid chasing or following wildlife that is attempting to escape.
    • Keep watching times to a reasonable length to avoid stressing the animals.
    • Move slowly, quietly, and in full view to avoid scaring or stressing animals.
    • Avoid touching animals unless part of a carefully structured research or conservation program that has the required permits.
  2. Avoid captive wildlife facilities unless they actively support reintroduction to the wild or take in animals that would not be able to return to the wild (see below for more specific captive wildlife guidelines).
  3. Follow Leave No Trace guidelines to reduce human impact on wild places.

Wildlife in Captivity

All animals in captivity should be given the five freedoms listed below and any facility that does not incorporate these freedoms should be avoided.

    • Freedom from Hunger and Thirst: Ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
    • Freedom from Discomfort: Provide an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
    • Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease: Prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
    • Freedom to Express Normal Behavior: Provide sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
    • Freedom from Fear and Distress: Ensuring conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering.

For more information, please see the ASV – Five Freedoms.

In addition, animal sanctuaries should follow the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries Standards of Excellence.

General Guidelines for Child/Youth Encounters

If tours involve interactions with children/youth, tour operators should attempt to follow ethical practices, such as:

    • Always respect local customs
    • Never spend unsupervised time with children under the age of 18, and/or without a police record check, and always with consent of a parent or guardian.
    • Avoid all situations that use, rely on, or otherwise exploit child labor
    • Do not visit orphanages, nor foster relationships of bonding/detachment
    • Do not flaunt excessive wealth, nor impose foreign values and demands on local youth

For more information, please see Alternative Care Guidelines by CELSIS: http://www.alternativecareguidelines.org/Portals/46/Moving-forward/Moving-forward-implementing-the-guidelines-ENG.pdf