7 sustainable travel experiences to have this summer as an ecotourist

June 24, 2019 by  
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Planning an international trip can be pretty overwhelming as it is, but it can be even harder for eco-friendly travelers looking for sustainable activities that promote cultural travel and ecotourism. Luckily, more and more travel companies and agencies are making it easier to travel with the environment in mind. Start off by researching green destinations, travel packages and green hotels at websites like Lokal Travel , Green Pearls or Responsible Travel . The World Travel Market Responsible Tourism website is a great resource, as it gives out awards each year recognizing worldwide travel organizations in categories such as “Best for Reducing Carbon & Other Greenhouse Gases” and “Best for Reducing Plastic Waste.” Look for hotels and resorts that have been certified eco-friendly or green, that have clear evidence of protecting the Earth, that are built with environmental sustainability in mind or that have made the investments to truly change their business models toward long-term sustainability. Once you’ve chosen a destination and accommodation, look for travel companies that are trying to help the local culture or the land in a positive, significant way and have hired local employees with fair wages. While these organizations are usually small and focused on a few specific places, there are larger companies doing good work as well. Sadly, plenty of “volunteer” programs out there are aimed at making the client feel good about themselves, rather than making an effort to make a positive difference on the destination (or at the very least leave it unharmed by the presence of visitors). If your volunteer trip costs money, find out where the money is going. Related: Natural Habitat Adventures launches the world’s first zero-waste vacations Of course, flying is something to keep in mind, as the carbon emissions from airplanes are high. Don’t be afraid to stay close to home or travel by train to somewhere near you. If you do decide to fly, as many of the destinations below might require unless you are a local, do some research into the most sustainable airlines and consider carbon offsets to ever-so-slightly lessen the impact of this form of travel. Here are seven eco-friendly activities to enjoy in destinations around the world. Watch the Northern Lights in Norway Not only is Norway one of the most environmentally conscious countries on Earth, it is also one of the most beautiful. Its capital city of Oslo was named Europe’s greenest capital by the European Union in 2019. When it comes to seeing the Northern Lights, don’t do it as an afterthought. Take the time to plan a trip with local guides that benefits the economy. Consider an immersion program with the indigenous Sámi people, who have recently embraced sustainable tourism as a vital source of local income. Volunteer in the Galapagos, Ecuador An undisputed leader in ecotourism destinations worldwide, the Galapagos are home to some of the most exciting and important lands on the planet. Almost 100 percent of the island chain is protected as a national park , and visitor fees go straight toward conservation efforts. Look for a company that organizes volunteer trips rather than sightseeing; the latter creates unnecessary trash and carbon emissions. Book an eco-friendly safari in Kenya It’s no secret that poaching is one of African wildlife’s greatest threats. Eco-friendly safaris and lodges provide alternative employment to poaching in Kenya, all while supporting the community and putting money toward the upkeep of nature preserves. A good tourism company works hand-in-hand with the local people (such as the Maasai tribe in Kenya) to protect the land and animals. Consider staying on conservancy lands, where the area has been set aside for wildlife conservation and is strictly regulated. Related: 7 eco-friendly and conservation-minded safari lodges across Africa Help save elephants in Thailand The tourism industry is beginning to see elephant riding for what it is — cruel. What was once a misunderstood and popular bucket-list item is now one of the main proponents responsible for the rise of ecotourism. Skip the elephant ride and opt for a trip to an elephant rescue center, where your money will go toward the betterment of these animals rather than the exploitation of them. For a day trip, check out the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, but if you want to spend a week or more volunteering, the Surin Project is another great choice. Go hiking in New Zealand New Zealand is world-renowned for its luxury ecotourism (such as “ glamping ”) as well as plenty of hiking opportunities that let tourists submerge themselves in the natural environment without doing any damage. Another thing to consider: Air New Zealand recently got rid of all single-use plastics from its entire fleet of planes. That means no plastic bags, cups or straws are being used on any of these flights, resulting in about 24 million less pieces of plastic being used each year. Visit animal sanctuaries in Costa Rica Costa Rica pledged to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021, and with 25 percent of its territory protected as national parks or biological reserves, it is setting the bar pretty high for the rest of the world. The country is known for its abundance of eco-friendly accommodations and wildlife sanctuaries. Check out the Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula or the Jaguar Rescue Center in the Limón Province. Stay in self-sustaining accommodation in the Maldives With more than 1,000 islands making up this archipelago, environmental awareness and protecting the ocean is a vital part of life in the Maldives. For example, Soneva Fushi Resort has been completely carbon-neutral since 2014. It has an on-site recycling program, and all the water used at the resort is desalinated. Ninety percent of the waste produced is recycled, including 100 percent of the food waste , and all of the facilities run on the energy from solar panels. Images via Derek Thomson , Claudia Regina , Peter Swaine , Marcel Oosterwijk , Bruce Dall , Jeff Pang , Michelle Callahan and Selda Eigler

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7 sustainable travel experiences to have this summer as an ecotourist

Iguanas reintroduced to island after 200 years

January 15, 2019 by  
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In 1835, Charles Darwin was the last person to officially see a land iguana on Santiago Island in the Galapagos. After that encounter, predators like the feral pig wiped the lizard population out of that location. Now — nearly two centuries later —  an initiative by the Galapagos National Park authority has reintroduced more than 1,400 land iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus) back to Santiago Island. Authorities said in a recent statement that on January 3 and 4, the land iguanas were taken from neighboring North Seymour Island and introduced to the coastal regions Puerto Nuevo and Bucanero, which have similar ecosystems to the iguanas’ former home. The Galapagos Conservation Trust says that the archipelago’s land iguana population suffered when species like cats, rats, dogs and pigs were introduced. Those species prey on baby iguanas and eggs, plus they compete for food. Some cats even target adult iguanas up to four years old. But, the last feral pig on Santiago Island was eradicated in 2000 as part of the Galapagos Conservancy’s Project Isabela, and the island became officially pig-free in 2004. Related: Endangered green and loggerhead turtles make Mediterranean comeback The Santiago Island iguana reintroduction initiative was in due to depleting vegetation on North Seymour Island, which was threatening also a main threat to the food source of more than 5,000 iguanas. However, some lizards did remain to avoid compromising the existing vegetation . “The land iguana is a herbivore that helps ecosystems by dispersing seeds and maintaining open areas free from vegetation,” says Galapagos ecosystems director Danny Rueda. Authorities will continue to monitor the iguanas that have been reintroduced to the Galapagos island in order to determine if the iguanas are properly adapting and creating nests, and also to see if they are finding necessary food. They will also keep a close eye on newer species found on the island, such as rodents and ants, to make sure they are not disturbing the iguanas’ nests. Galapagos National Park Director Jorge Carrión said on Twitter that reintroducing the iguanas to Santiago Island was “great news for #Galapagos, for #Ecuador, and the world.” Via CNN Image by 8moments

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Iguanas reintroduced to island after 200 years

500-mile-long shark highway could become a protected wildlife corridor

May 23, 2018 by  
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For the very first time, scientists filmed sharks traveling along a 500-mile-long shark highway in the Pacific Ocean  that stretches between the Galapagos Islands and Cocos Island. The reason for filming? While Cocos and the Galapagos have protected areas for fish , the shark highway is not included, and scientists want to transform it into a protected wildlife corridor . Costa Rica group Fundación PACÍFICO , a collaboration of four environmental funds, organized an expedition to videotape the shark highway. President Zdenka Piskulich told NPR it’s difficult to get people interested in a corridor out in the ocean , but “finally we have visual evidence that there is a huge abundance in this area that needs to be protected, that there really is a highway.” Related: Russia built a critical wildlife corridor to help save endangered big cats The scientists utilized GoPro-style cameras, fish bait and metal frames to create what are called baited remote underwater video systems, or BRUVS. They dragged these behind a research boat for nearly two weeks. Biologist Mario Espinoza said, “We actually documented over 16 species of sharks and fish, also sea turtles and dolphins …It’s really surprising to see that many animals .” Sharks — including hammerhead, thresher and silky sharks — were the predominant marine animal. The shark highway follows an underwater mountain range, or seamounts, according to Fundación PACÍFICO . Espinoza said this was “the first time we actually documented animals using these seamounts. We don’t know exactly whether they are feeding or they’re like stopping by or using these seamounts as navigation routes.” Lee Crockett of the Shark Conservation Fund said sharks straying outside of protected areas are at risk of being caught on the long lines of high seas tuna fishing. Some species of hammerhead sharks are endangered ; others are declining. He described protecting this shark highway as “the next step in conservation .” + Fundación PACÍFICO Via NPR Image via Depositphotos

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Trump Administration proposes to sell protected land in Arizona for fracking

May 23, 2018 by  
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The Trump Administration has announced a proposal to sell 4,200 acres of public, protected land in northern Arizona for oil and gas development. The area in question crosses the Little Colorado River and is located only three miles from Petrified Forest National Park. It also is close to the habitat for the Little Colorado spinedace, a threatened species of fish. Oil and gas industrial activity, such as fracking , could also threaten the groundwater in the Little Colorado River Basin, potentially affecting drinking water. In September, the Bureau of Land Management is planning to auction the land to the highest bidder, without sufficient environmental and public review. The Center for Biological Diversity is pushing back against the Trump Administration as it advances its pro-industry agenda. “This dangerous plan puts national parks, precious groundwater and wildlife in the crosshairs. We’ll do everything we can to stop it,” said Taylor McKinnon at the Center for Biological Diversity . “Fracking is a dirty, dangerous business that consumes enormous amounts of water and threatens wildlife and public health. Northern Arizonans won’t tolerate public lands being sacrificed as gifts from Trump to the fossil fuel industry.” Related: France completely bans fracking and oil extraction Under guidelines issued in January 2018 by the Trump Administration, the Bureau of Land Management has made several assumptions in its approval process and has delayed any detailed analysis until the drilling permit stage. At that point, the site will already have been sold for oil and gas development. “Fracking or drilling development could be catastrophic for the region’s groundwater,” McKinnon said. “This is Trump’s energy dominance policy at work, where nothing matters except fossil-fuel interests.” The Center for Biological Diversity previously sued the Trump Administration for its expedited oil and gas development policy in Colorado and Ohio, and sued once again in April after the administration enacted a more widespread policy of sidelining the public interest at the Bureau of Land Management. + Center for Biological Diversity Via EcoWatch Images via  Glenn Scofield Williams ,  Chris English  and  Scott Loarie

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Trump Administration proposes to sell protected land in Arizona for fracking

The long and winding road to sustainable tourism

June 9, 2017 by  
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From Hawaii to the Galapagos, the sector moves beyond eco-adventures to more holistic safeguards for popular travel destinations.

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The long and winding road to sustainable tourism

Extinct Galapagos tortoises to be bred back to life

December 24, 2015 by  
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Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island saddleback tortoises, died in 2012 after living for over one hundred years. Though George is gone, his species may not suffer the same tragic fate. Scientists are hard at work reviving the Pinta Island saddleback, also known as Abingdon Island tortoise, through selective breeding of related species found on nearby  Galapagos islands . Read the rest of Extinct Galapagos tortoises to be bred back to life

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Extinct Galapagos tortoises to be bred back to life

RIP ‘Lonesome George’: World’s Last Pinta Giant Tortoise Dies

June 27, 2012 by  
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We’re sad to report that ‘Lonesome George’, the world’s last Pinta giant tortoise died last night at the young age of 100 in the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador . He was found dead in his enclosure by his long-time keeper Fausto Llerena. As the last surving member of the sub-species ‘Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni’ , George was famous for being the world’s rarest creature. Read the rest of RIP ‘Lonesome George’: World’s Last Pinta Giant Tortoise Dies Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Animals , extinction , galapagos , george , giant tortoise , lonesome george

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RIP ‘Lonesome George’: World’s Last Pinta Giant Tortoise Dies

How Do You Teach Kids to Live Sustainably on an Island?

November 29, 2010 by  
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What’s being done to teach environmental education to kids like these? Photo credit: maveric2003 via Flickr/Creative Commons Environmental education is playing a bigger role around the globe as we all learn more about our environmental surroundings. As with all environmental solutions, there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for effective environmental education around the world; there are just too many cultural, social, and environmental variances to make it work effectively

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How Do You Teach Kids to Live Sustainably on an Island?

The Week in Pictures: Galapagos Islands No Longer Endangered? ‘Static Kill’ of BP’s Oil Well, and More (Slideshow)

August 6, 2010 by  
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The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico reached an important milestone this Tuesday afternoon when BP started their ‘static kill’ procedure to seal the oil well, and the good news is, that it seems to be working — so far. In other green news, the Galapagos Islands has been taken off the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger — but could it be too soon? The above average temps in July 2010 Temps will be normal for July 2050; an Oregon wind farm offered $5000 for neighbors not to complain about noise, and China reveals a ‘3D Fast Bus’ that straddles the road so cars can drive under — cool! Find ..

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The Week in Pictures: Galapagos Islands No Longer Endangered? ‘Static Kill’ of BP’s Oil Well, and More (Slideshow)

Six Selfish Reasons You Don’t Want Dead Oceans

June 18, 2010 by  
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Photo by foodiesathome.com via flickr.

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Six Selfish Reasons You Don’t Want Dead Oceans

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