The NEST project is a trans-national project part-financed by the European Community, under the Interreg IIIB Northern Periphery Programme (NPP) during the period of 2005 -2007. There are four participating countries, Iceland (Lead Partner), Scotland, Sweden and Finland. The project seeks to bring people together to network and learn from each other, in order to use their natural and cultural resources to the best effect for the sustainable development of their area. A central focus is the support and development of local and trans-national networks of key stakeholders. From this base of collaborative working, the project concentrates on protected areas as a source for identifying and realising business opportunities, promoting and investigating sustainable tourism management and quality marketing, and the development of educational nature school programmes using the partners shared geological heritage.
The overall goal of the project is to promote sustainable rural development through the growth and management of nature and culture based tourism within and in connection to protected areas. For tourism to be sustainable, the interaction between tourism activity and the environmental, social and economic structures of a destination need to be managed appropriately and effectively to maintain destination quality while maximising tourism activity and benefits.