Conservation: How You Can Get Involved

In a report published by the W.W.F and the Zoological Society of London they have warned that two-thirds of vertebrate populations could be wiped out by 2020.

With that bleak forecast, you’re no doubt wanting to know how you can help. Well, once again, I’m here to guide you through! The focus is conservation.

 

The Different Types of Conservation

Orangutan Conservation work

Conservation is the scientific study of nature, with the aim of protecting species, their habitats and ecosystems from extinction.

There are multiple types of conservation that you can get involved with on your gap year. I’ve explored four of the main conservation types below and how you can get involved.

 

1. Environmental Conservation

Environmental Conservation work volunteering

Environmental conservation refers to the environment being used in a way that is sustainable. By using the environment sustainably, it won’t be destroyed for good, meaning we can go on benefitting from it for years to come – phew! Naturally, environmental conservation comes in many different forms, as there are a fair few areas to cover, from recycling household waste, to replanting trees, to educating others about how to take care of the environment themselves.

By protecting our surroundings like this, we are in turn protecting ourselves. Keeping the earth healthy.

How you can get involved:

Spend ten weeks in Costa Rica helping to sustain the local forests and beaches, from beach clean ups to habitat maintenance and community education you’ll be ensuring to protect the area of Santa Teresa.

Don’t worry if you haven’t got time to venture to the other side of the world in order to help, as any progress is good progress. This is the easiest type of conservation to start at home.

You can play your part by simply using public transport to cut back on pollution and ensuring that you recycle. Keep it green folks!

 

2. Animal conservation

Animal conservation work volunteering

Animal conservation is the practice of protecting endangered wild animal species, along with their habitats. Across the world there are animal conservationists, who work to identify species that are in need of help and protect them. This often involves keeping animals in captivity until they have a safe place to live in the wild.

So what’s making our lovely creatures of the earth disappear? There are a number of threats that animals are facing, one of which is global warming. The changes caused by this phenomenon are dangerous, as so many animals have specific habitat needs, meaning global warming could lead to a severe decrease in wildlife species.

Natural occurrences, such as floods, earthquakes, forest fires and lightening also contribute towards this decrease, but shamefully it’s us humans that play the biggest part *guilty face*. People hunt and trade in endangered species, release toxic chemicals into the water, air and soil, and pollute natural ecosystems.

How you can get involved:

If, like me, you’re passionate about preventing the extinction of animals, you can take part in animal conservation projects, whereby you can work on projects such as game reserve management, turtle protection, elephant rehabilitation and much more.

 

3. Marine Conservation

marine conservation work volunteering

As you might have already guessed, marine conservation is the protection of species and ecosystems that live in oceans and seas (who’d have thought it, eh). It involves protecting these species through reducing human activities like fishing, whaling and water pollution.

Regrettably, we often take the health of marine life for granted and, due to these practices, the ocean is extremely vulnerable to harm.

How you can get involved:

There are several ways in which you can help protect marine ecosystems, such as mapping habitats, carrying out vital research into the state of the oceans and the wildlife that live there, and educating local communities- not all is lost it seems!

One of the most amazing places where this work is taking place is an island just off mainland Madagascar. You’ll find a team of volunteers doing all the different tasks to ensure the area remains pristine. Perfect for combining a true adventure and contribution to a worthy cause.

 

4. Indigenous Community Conservation

Indigenous Community conservation work volunteering

This is perhaps one type of conservation that you won’t yet have heard of, however it’s also the one you can relate to most, being human and all. People too are in danger and certain procedures need to be put in place to keep them alive.

Take the Tsa’chila tribes in Ecuador, for example, who were once prolific in the region, but now just seven remote settlements exist. These communities are at risk of losing their traditional culture, due to the ever-expanding influence of Europeans and North Americans.

By living amongst communities such as these, learning about their customs and traditions, and helping them improve their standards of living, you can work towards conserving those humans in need.

How you can get involved:

Spend ten weeks in Ecuador working with a number of local communities working to protect their cultures as well as their understanding of the environment they live in and how we can harmoniously work alongside nature.

 

Conclusion

So to sum things up, conservation is all about keeping Planet Earth happy and healthy by taking care of our environment and the animals and people that inhabit it. Keen to make a difference? Check out these conservation jobs, which include working with turtles, bears and rhinos – who wouldn’t want to help care for those?!

Don’t forget to post your thoughts on conservation in the comments box below… we love hearing your feedback 🙂

Jenny McWhirter
Jenny McWhirter
Jenny joined The Leap team in 2015, and is our very own in-house gap year advice agony aunt. She leaped with us back in 2012 and has now returned to help run our popular advice blog, and will also be one of the first people you speak to if you're interested in joining one of our gap year travel programs.
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