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Written by The Leap on 01 / 03 / 2021

Gap Year Advice

Unless you've been living under a rock lately while planning your gap year (yes even in covid times), you’ve probably heard the word ‘conservation’ being thrown about quite a lot. Perhaps you’re wondering: what it exactly does conservation mean? Well wonder no more...

What is conservation in geography?

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

Conservation includes the protection of species from extinction, maintaining and restoring habitats, preventing deforestation and enhancing ecosystems and protecting biological diversity. Quite a mouthful but all of these actions are equally important to create a safe sustainable planet for future generations to enjoy. We can all play a part in protecting the planet which is what inspires our team programs for your gap year. We specialise in sending teams of Leapers overseas to create a lasting positive impact, after all - 10 pairs of hands are better than 1 and together the team can achieve great things. From helping combat deforestation in Peru to creating a national park in Namibia we are proud to offer a multitude of planet-friendly programs.

The Different Types of Conservation

There are four of the main conservation types all of which play a vital part for maintaining a healthy planet. They all need our help as a matter of urgency. Here is how you can play your part in helping the planet.

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 responsibly for years to come. Naturally, environmental conservation comes in many different forms, as there are a fair few areas to cover, from recycling waste, to cleaning the beaches of plastic, to replanting trees and removing invasive species and educating the locals to ensure conservation becomes a way of life, the list is endless.

If you're up for adventure on your gap year then Namibia is our ultimate conservation program. Work alongside leading conservationists as you help to create a new national park to house the endangered black rhino. Help remove invasive species and create a haven for wildlife to thrive in. The best bit? It is in the most extraordinary setting, nestled into the desert miles from civilization there is nothing quite like this program.

This one is for me...

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 working to identify species that are in need of help and protecting them, which often involves keeping animals in captivity until they have a safe place to live in the wild.

Sadly, many species have become extinct over time and many more are now endangered, therefore it’s essential that we find ways to protect them and conserve their natural habitats in order for them to be around for future generations.

So what’s making 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 that are destroyed, 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.

If passionate about preventing the extinction of animals, you can take part in conservation projects, whereby you can work on projects such as game reserve management in Namibia, turtle protection and beach clean ups in Costa Rica, elephant rehabilitation in Cambodia and much more. As the saying goes 'many hands make light work', so our team programs can achieve great things for these animals and their habitats.

Tell me 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. 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!

Kenya is a key program focussing on marine conservation - take part in fascinating conservation snorkelling off the coast of Kilifi.

Where can i do this?

4. Human 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. People too are in danger and certain procedures need to be put in place to keep them alive. We can also improve the world we live in through educating more people to the dangers of climate change and teach them more eco friendly methods to use.

Take the Tsachila 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 who have a rich history.

Take me to Kenya

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 all our planet-saving programs.

Fancy being an independent traveller? Join Leap VIP and we will open our secret book of contacts across the globe to you, contact them directly and off you go. We'll be on hand to steer and guide.

Want to know more?

Browse our programs here to get you volunteering in conservation

Get involved

Need inspiration and direction?

Get in contact with the gap year travel specialists.

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

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