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Conservation: How You Can Get Involved

Written by Alice McLeod on 30 / 07 / 2023

Gap Year Advice

The Different Types of Gap Year Conservation

There are multiple types of conservation that you can get involved with on your gap year. Not only is joining a conservation-focused project great for the environment, but also for the communities it supports. Whether it's supporting local people to cut down on over-fishing or building structures using recycled plastic, there are a multitude of ways you can use your gap year to get involved in conservation. We’ve explored four of the main conservation types below and how you can get involved.

1. Environmental Conservation

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 benefiting 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 five weeks in Costa Rica helping to sustain the local beaches, from beach clean ups to turtle 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 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. 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 turtle protection, animal sanctuary volunteering, coral reef restoration and much more.

3. Marine Conservation

As you might have already guessed, marine conservation is the protection of species and ecosystems that live in oceans and seas. 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 in Kenya, where you'd be out snorkelling on a beautiful coral reef each morning to clean the coral, calculate fish populations, and replant broken coral pieces back onto the reef.

4. Indigenous Community Conservation

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 High Andean communities in Peru. 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 4 weeks in Peru 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

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? All of our team programmes have an element of conservation, whether that's turtles, local communities, or reforestation so lots of different options for you to consider when you're looking at ways to contribute to conservation efforts on your gap year.

FAQs

Should I volunteer whilst on my gap year? We really believe that you should try and give something back whilst on your travels. There are lots of different things to take into account when choosing your gap year, but each Leap programme has an element of volunteering and contribution within it. Read our guide to choosing your gap year programme here.

I want to help with conservation but have no idea where to start. The first thing you should do is get in contact! Our friendly team have helped gappers from all over the world find their perfect team programme.

I don't think I want to join a team programme, can I still contribute whilst on my gap year? Sounds like you need our Leap VIP service for independent travellers. With access to our book of contacts you can find a worthwhile project to join, even as a solo traveller.

Check out our gap year programs

We have award winning 'planet saving' programs across Africa, Asia, South and Central America.

Reducing plastic in our oceans, protecting turtles and saving the rhino is just the tip of the melting iceberg.

All experiences include a mix of projects and adventures, travelling with a team and, of course, are risk assessed.

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Here at The Leap we can help both team traveller through our programmes and/or the backpacker.

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