Earth Day: Celebrate Our Planet through Eco-Tourism
This year’s Earth Day focuses on protecting the world's many species. As earth's population continues to grow so does our need to protect, nurture, and pay tribute to the diverse array of life within it. What better way is there to celebrate our incredible planet’s existence than to travel far and wide to experience the most precious and inviting pockets of the world in a way that honours its future.
Choose Earth-Friendly Travel Operators
More than 25% of marine life lives in coral reefs, and threats such as climate change, coastal development, overfishing and poor water quality all have significant impacts on the ocean. In Australia, we have already seen the impact on one of our most beloved treasures, the Great Barrier Reef. Over two-million travellers visit the Great Barrier Reef every year for snorkelling, scuba diving, seaplane tours and sailing excursions and it can be overwhelming choosing which operators to book with and, as travellers, we may not always consider what kind of ramifications our human choice has.
Similarly, way, way down south, the cold nutrient-rich waters of Antarctica also see around 30,000 tourists visit every year as well as up to 5,000 scientists and researchers. Being home to some of the world's most intriguing species such as large blue whales, colonies of tuxedo-wearing penguins, curious orcas and lazy sunbathing seals, we need to protect our world’s driest, windiest and coldest continent. WWF says "the Antarctic is one of the world’s least disturbed places, but it’s increasingly vulnerable, especially to global warming and climate change". Unlike some parts of the world, the human development (or lack of) actually facilitates the life of species within the continent, something we should all hope continues as we make conscious travel choices.
According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Responsible Travel, you can reduce your impact during your holiday by choosing high standard operators who are ecologically sustainable and recognised byEarthCheck, Ecotourism Australiaand The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO). These approved and registered nature-focused operators allow you to enjoy the magnificent natural wonders of the world for what they are, while promoting a clean, responsible, prosperous and healthy ecosystem.
Give Back to the Planet While on Holiday
One-third of the world’s total acreage is rainforest, providing numerous havens for some of the world’s most rare animals as well as stabilising our world’s climate. And, it is sad to say that half of the tropical and temperate forests are gone as a result of the destruction caused by timber logging, palm oil sourcing, wildlife poaching, medicinal demands and growing urban developments.
Deforestation leads to animal extinction and - on a much wider scale – disruption to air quality, contaminated soils, and flooding. In Vietnam alone, there are over 30 National Parks to explore - a hot spot for biological diversity. White-cheeked gibbons, red-shanked douc langur, 300 bird species and banded civets can be spotted in the right places. Despite this, many species are in serious decline and it's said that biologists are in a race against time to discover and identify new species before they vanish from the harsh realities of economic growth and expansion.
Environmentalists and local communities are working together to safeguard and protect Vietnam's natural world. A great way to experience this sublime country and make a positive impact during your holiday; is to enrol yourself in a volunteer program or project that coincides with your travel dates. GlobeAware, Projects Abroad and other programmes work towards conservation for endangered species all around the world, whilst simultaneously raising awareness within local communities about the importance of wildlife and forest protection, providing a better understanding of how to sustainably source food, prevent flooding and protect the millions of plant and animal species that reside among the trees.
Be a Good Human
If we didn't raise awareness about our human impacts on the planet, it might result in a “last-chance” rush to experience a place before it’s gone forever. There is no Planet B. And whilst a holiday may only take up a portion of our life, there are daily habits we can do to ensure the prosperity of our home.
Earth Day is an important message to us; consider how your lifestyle impacts the planet and how it affects the thousands of species within it. Not only does Earth Day give us time to reflect on the destinations we want to tick off our list and what we want to do there, but it also provokes thoughts about how we can still travel the world with reduced footprint. It reminds us to book our flights with an airline that offers carbon offset programs, to think about where our favourite coffee has been sourced from, to reduce single-use plastic and say something to that one person who just littered on the beach. It encourages us to plant a new tree in our preferred place, drink only from a reusable drink bottle or take a walk to work instead of using the car. It's a chance to focus on how the survival of the world around us really is reliant on how we, as humans, act and behave.
We want to thrive, not just survive. It's clear that the future is in our hands. The impact of changes made by us - no matter how small - will allow our world to recover and flourish, so we can explore, celebrate and appreciate this beautiful planet.