After listening to David Attenborough on Netflix's latest documentary series, 'Our Planet', we are now more aware then ever of the negative effect humans have on our planet. We have explored and left our footprint on nearly every corner of the globe. As a result, most of our planet's ecosystems are facing multiple threats to their existence. A rising climate, increased carbon emissions, deforestation, and pollution are all contributors to this phenomenon. Each one of these threats puts additional stress on already weakened environments and the wildlife that inhabit them.
We see the consequences of this on a daily basis at our different Conservation Projects around the world. This makes us even more aware of the importance of environmental conservation, and to safeguard the beauty and diversity of our planet. It inspires our local staff, scientists, and volunteers to actively try and combat the negative spiral of the destruction, and focus on endemic issues unique to each placement. For example, every day we focus on tasks like:
- Invasive species eradication
- Animal rehabilitation
- Sustainable farming initiatives
- Wire trap and snare removals
- Animal research
The marine environment
Water is our biggest resource for life on our planet. But overfishing, plastic pollution, ocean acidification and growing dead zones is leading to severe repercussions on our overall ocean health.
Belize, for its small size, is remarkably ecologically diverse. However, the Belize Barrier Reef is under significant threat, mainly from improper waste management, rapid coastal development, and weak institutional and legal frameworks.
The daily conservation volunteer work in marine habitats in Belize seems to have the biggest tangible impact on the preservation of the country’s increasingly fragile ecosystems. Volunteers take part in salvage dives and beach clean-ups to reduce litter in the area.
Another way we assist with conserving marine habitats is by collecting essential scientific data. Volunteers often go on survey dives to collect data about the creatures living along the reef. We collaborate with the Belize Fisheries Department in two Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), providing them with resources to collect data relating to marine species, which inform their policies and their management.
Recently, through our involvement in the campaign against offshore oil - including a public forum, peaceful protests, and advocacy campaigns - we also supported the removal of Belize from the UNESCO World Heritage Site Endangered List. Efforts like these show that raising awareness about environmental threats can go a long way.
The African landscape
The Bushveld of Southern Africa is typically comprised of well-grassed plains that are dotted by dense clusters of trees and tall shrubs. And in the savannah-like landscape of Botswana, climate change is single-handedly causing more extreme weather patterns. This is the leading contributor to exaggerated drought and heavier rainfall cycles.
In order to reduce the risk of desertification and soil erosion due to overgrazing by cattle, volunteers build waterholes at the reserve in Botswana to create a sustainable water supply for wild animals during the drought. They also help construct erosion barriers and plant grass and trees in a large area of the reserve to maintain top-level soil during heavy rains.
Illegal poaching of bush meat is also a major challenge to wildlife conservation in Botswana. As a conservation volunteer, you will help reduce poaching in the Tuli area. You will mainly do this by joining local staff members in removing snares around the reserve.
Since the start of this initiative, 1,800 snares have been removed. The numbers are decreasing every year, showing that poaching is declining in the area. Our team in Botswana also report suspicious activity to authorities which led to the arrest of a major poacher in 2018.
Discover how you can conserve our planet
As you can see, environmental conservation comes in many forms. And no matter how busy life may be, it remains fairly easy to make small, yet necessary, changes for the good of the earth.
On all our conservation projects, regardless of which habitat you choose to immerse yourself in, you’ll support environmentalists, scientists, and people from the local community. You’ll get the chance to develop important skills by working in this field, while forming an essential part of the process to protect the features of our planet’s unique habitats.
Today, we are setting conservation records. And although the work is plentiful, when we are in a position to reflect on our efforts, it'll be well worth the energy.