Sustainable-minded travellers that engage in ecotourism activities, usually prefer to engage in activities which are of benefit to the natural environment, as well as that are educational and contribute to the local communities. Visiting nature and marine reserves are popular.
Tourism has suffered greatly under the Covid-19 restrictions. As ecotourism is based on the pillars of directing tourism profits back into communities and conservation efforts, many communities which depend on the profits made from ecotourism efforts, are suffering economic strains as well, due to the Covid-19 restrictions. These profits, however, do not serve only the local communities. Many of the nature reserves, marine habitats and wildlife refuge’s rely on these profits to continue their operational ability. As profits plummet, so do these conservation efforts ability to continue their work, feed and care for the animals that rely on them or to keep rangers in nature areas which are vulnerable to poaching.
Although the sustainable-minded traveller is usually able to contribute to small communities and local conservation efforts at their destination by making purchasing decisions for tourism-related activities which reflect these values, this is not a broadly available possibility, given the remaining Covid-19 restrictions. These organisations have introduced initiatives which allow for the sustainable traveller to make contributions directly for the communities or conservations which have been unable to make a living wage from the tourism they depend on. You can read more about how the Covid-19 restrictions are affecting wildlife here.
Here are some online conservation possibilities that we can do from home!!
Global Giving is a global crowdfunding community dedicated to fundraising for global efforts ranging from disaster to education and conservation. The organisations represented on the Global Giving platform are non profits, which have been vetted and the donations are tax deductible in the USA and UK. As of June 2020, wildlife conservation efforts such as the Sea Turtle Emergency Fund and the Support for Orphaned and Wild Chimpanzees in Uganda are two examples of wildlife conservation efforts that need help due to a drastic reduction in funding equating to the lack of ecotourism.
A plethora of initiatives such as these are found on the site for those that would like to engage in wildlife conservation efforts online during this time of Covid-19 restrictions.
One is able to find a wide variety of community-based initiatives as well, including efforts to combat the negative economic effects of Covid-19. As all of these crowdfunding opportunities are on their website, one can easily engage in.
Central South America
In the Costa Rican rainforest area of Monteverde, a popular spot for ecotourism, all the sites remain closed. The postponement of ecotourism activities in Costa Rica have left many without the possibility of making a living wage. In 2019, tourism is said to make up 8-9% of Costa Rica’s GDP and the ecotourism possibilities in Monteverde alone brought in an excess of 250 000 visitors last year. The government of Costa Rica did launch a short-term relief effort in which the applicant can receive up to $220 monthly for a maximum of 3 months. While this does offer relief, there is a question of what a person is to do once the 3 months relief period has been exhausted. Econexiones is a platform which has made it possible for small community producers, that would normally have, for example, food products selling to local restaurants, to sell their items online. As the restaurants, hotels, venues and tours which would normally serve as consumers for the producers have all been shuttered, selling items online is really the only opportunity for small producers to bring in money for items which are now considered a surplus in this time of Covid-19.
Based in the UK, the Galapagos Conservation has a focus on local ecological and marine research,island restoration, preservation of endangered species and education.A few of the current project being worked on include: reducing plastic pollution on the islands, reintroducing land iguanas to Santiago, working to preserve a plethora of bird species, endangered sharks and sea turtles.
It has made a platform for donations possible in order for people to be able to assist with community efforts which have been hampered in the shadow of coronavirus. As small islands, intensive care units are limited and as the islands are in remote locations, incoming supplies are limited. One of the initiatives that the Galapagos Conservation is doing with donations is to provide local fishermen and farmers with personal protective equipment to help prevent the spread of the disease.
The Galapagos Conservancy is a USA based site dedicated to nature and wildlife conservation efforts in the Galapagos islands. The Galapagos Conservancy run conservation efforts are as follows: Giant Tortoise Restoration initiative, education for sustainability, working towards a sustainable society and wildlife & ecosystem conservation. With their wildlife & ecosystem conservation efforts, the conservancy works to counter-act the negative effects on the ecology of the islands of long-term ecological damage, an ever-increasing population and the presence of aggressive species which have been introduced to the area and caused damage to the native species and environment.
The Galapagos conservancy is currently accepting donations which will be directed toward the Galapagos National Park Directorate, the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency and other partners which are working to safeguard the islands during the Covid-19 pandemic. They are accepting donations via the website, or post for these online conservation initiatives.
Blue Ventures has a focus on efforts of sustainable marine conservation and the benefit to coastal communities. They have long established conservation efforts in Madagascar. Blue Ventures’ conservation efforts include rebuilding fisheries and permanent marine reserves, the conservation of wetland habitats, mangrove and seagrass, aquaculture, community health efforts and education. As the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative effect on fish markets, tourism and the stated lack of trade with restaurants, the coastal communities are suffering the economic effects of the virus. Blue Ventures has long-standing relations with the coastal communities and has been working hard to help find other means of employment for those suffering from job loss. One example of this is the women’s group who made lunches for the tourists as their business. Once tourism stopped completely, there was no possibility of income from providing those meals. With community cooperation, the women’s group is now making and selling masks for personal protection, to the community. Efforts like this, to keep the people in coastal communities able to achieve a livable wage through work, is one way in which Blue Ventures is conducting community conservation during the pandemic. Donations are accepted on their website.
The Maa Trust
The Maa Trust works with community-owned wildlife conservancies in Maasai,Kenya. They are currently fundraising with a goal of raising funds to give support to the hundreds of families in Maasai that live in communities which have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. The list of things which the donations can go to are as follows:
- Medicine for a sick child at mobile medical camps
- Buy 50% of a beehive, to be matched by a Maasai family
- Monthly salary for a beading assistant, who in turn allows 110 women to participate in Maa Beadwork
- One month’s running costs for a Maa Trust vehicle, a critical component to our outreach work.
- One year’s full support for a bursary child in a boarding primary school
- Vocational training course for a young person
- 15,000 litre rainwater harvesting system for a primary school
- One day free mobile medical camp for a rural community serving 200-300 people
- Rainwater harvesting providing safe drinking water for a community of 600 people
These are just a few examples of how organisations are working to help conservation efforts and communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are many locations around the world which are suffering the effects of the pandemic, and there are also many conservation bodies working hard to counteract the suffering of these communities and organisations. If you so choose, you have the possibility to contribute to these efforts from the comfort of your own home, via donations or sharing the information with others.
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