5. Supporting Maasai landowners in Kenya
The Mara Naboisho Conservancy in Kenya is a 50,000-acre reserve created by 500 Maasai landowners. The park is home to bountiful wildlife – including big cats – and revenue from tourism provides the Maasai community with a sustainable livelihood, which in turn helps preserve this diverse corner of Kenya. The conservancy’s stellar work was rewarded in 2016 with a gold medal at the African Responsible Tourism Awards.
6. Turtle conservation in Mexico
The deserted shores of Veracruz are just the tonic for hectic lives. They’re also a breeding ground for endangered turtles, which face a range of challenges including pollution and habitat loss. Cue the Yepez Foundation, a non-profit organisation that has spent the best part of half a century safeguarding turtles and their habitats in this corner of Mexico. They’re always on the lookout for volunteers who can help with a range of projects, from beach clean-ups and community outreach programmes to coastal reforestation.
7. Conducting reef research in Malaysia
The world’s coral reefs are, alas, in grave danger, as pollution, disease and climate change wreak havoc with these underwater ecosystems. Cue Biosphere Expeditions, which is running an eight-day excursion to the colourful colour gardens of Malaysia, where participants can help collect data from reefs, which could be used to preserve the beleaguered ecosystems. Open for qualified scuba divers only, the 2017 expedition takes place August 15-22.
8. Taking the train in Ecuador
Wending its way from Quito to the coastal city of Guayaquil, via mountains and rainforests, Tren Ecuador is one of the world’s greatest train journeys. It is also an award-winning enterprise: last year the restored railway scooped top prize at the World Responsible Tourism Awards. Judges praised it for creating jobs and reducing poverty in remote regions of the South American nation. Anyone who hops aboard is helping.
9. Walking the Loop Head Heritage Trail in Ireland
It was once an isolated, wind-swept corner of Ireland that few people visited. Today Loop Head Peninsula is still isolated and wind-swept, but it’s now on the tourist map. That’s thanks to residents in County Clare who created a heritage trail along the coast, which joins the dots between holy wells, stone forts and other ancient buildings. Tourism will now help safeguard those historic sites, which is one reason why the trail won the award for Best Cultural Heritage Attraction at the 2016 World Responsible Travel Awards.
Song Sleuth. Heard of it? It’s an app that, like Shazam, identifies a bird by its song. Twitching, it seems, has gone high-tech. Some even say it’s cool now. If you’re inclined to agree then you might want to consider birding in Cambodia, where non-profit operator Sam Veasna Center runs award-winning birdwatching trips. As well as showcasing the country’s birdlife, the organisation trains locals to become guides thus helping communities see the value of conservation.
For more inspiration, listen to our latest podcast, featuring Kris Tompkins and Amos Bien, two of the world’s most ambitious and outspoken eco-pioneers:
Header image via marius zkluzniak/Flickr.