Mountain biodiversity and flagship species conservation worldwide
Mountain biodiversity and flagship species conservation worldwide
Project Status: on going
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Biosphere Expeditions is a wildlife conservation non-profit committed to running real wildlife conservation research expeditions to work hands-on in wildlife research and conservation in all corners of the Earth. Our projects are genuine research expeditions and voluntourism projects. Biosphere Expeditions promotes sustainable conservation and preservation of the planet’s wildlife by forging alliances between scientists and the public. We invite everyone to join us on our wildlife and wilderness projects all over the world, many in mountain environments such as the Altai, Tien Shan, Carpathians, Cape Fold Mountains, Dhofar Mountains and the Pyrenees. Biosphere Expeditions gives everyone, the chance to become a citizen scientist during their holiday time.
The foundation of our work is science and local need. We focus on sustainable conservation projects that target clearly defined, critical issues that humankind has the power to change. Our international volunteers work hand-in-hand with local biologists and communities to drive positive outcomes for biodiversity. Other achievements include the creation of protected areas on four continents, the implementation of our conservation recommendations and species protection plans by numerous national and regional governments and NGOs, scientific and lay publications, as well as capacity-building, training and education all over the world. Our goal is to make, through our work, an active contribution towards a sustainable biosphere.
At Biosphere Expeditions we believe in empowering ordinary people by placing them at the centre of scientific study during their holiday time and by actively involving them out in the field, where there is wildlife conservation work to be done. We always work in close conjunction with local people and scientists and try our best to ensure that the fruits of our expedition work benefit our local helpers, their society and the environment they live in. To date Biosphere Expeditions has sent thousands of people into the field and this number continues to grow as the years go by.
HOW DO WE CONTRIBUTE TO MOUNTAIN PROTECTION
Example 1 Altai: We have helped create Saylugem National Park in the Altai Mountains, an area where snow leopards now thrive. When we started, there was no national park, no rangers, no community integration and incentives based on intact nature and snow leopard presence. Poaching was widespread. When we finished, a national park was established with rangers patrolling the area. The community is now fully integrated into research efforts and derive economic benefit from helping with camera-trapping and other research activities. There are also micro business initiatives such as providing simple accommodation and catering, felt souvenirs and other services to adventure travellers and self-drive safari visitors. These initiatives depend on intact mountain environments and the presence of wildlife for their success. In this way, the local community has become a steward of the mountain environment in a stable and sustainable way. The project took 11 years to complete.
Example 2 Kyrgyzstan: We are at the moment trying to apply the same model to the Kyrgyz Alatoo range in Kyrgyzstan, where snow leopards roam in an unprotected area. We are into year three of a ten year project.
COLLABORATION WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES
We work with local scientists wherever possible, hire only local services for the expedition logistics, local businesses for services. We run a placement programme on all our expeditions, which integrates local people into the expeditions at no cost to them. We also work with local communities on incentive-creation through nature. For example, in the Altai we have converted local poachers into conservationists by paying them for verifiable camera trap pictures of snow leopards surviving year-on-year.
GOING FURTHER THAN “BUSINESS AS USUAL”
Our placement programme on all our expeditions, which integrates local people into the expeditions at no cost to them. This placement programme, amongst other things, seeks to empower local communities to establish their own conservation schemes. We also provide capacity-building and jobs as explained above.
Food policy: The United Nations has identified vegetarianism as one of the major ways to reduce impact; it has also concluded that a global shift toward a vegetarian or vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change. In line with all of the above Biosphere Expeditions is, to our knowledge, unique in offering a purely vegetarian diet wherever possible on expedition.
Sponsorship policy Biosphere Expeditions will not accept support from corporations whose activities, services or products come with a persistent and large-scale negative impact on the environment or human health & welfare or corporations who Biosphere Expeditions judges to obtain their revenue by unethical means or who have a record of unethical conduct.
Our volunteer guests are an integral part and the linchpin for our conservation efforts. Our expeditions with travellers from all over the world are not isolated luxury trips. Instead our guest are intimately involved in the expedition, often in remote and challenging environments and circumstances. We always work with local service providers, people and businesses and integrate local people into our expeditions, either as staff, scientists or through our placement programme. As such our expedition experiences are totally immersive for participants (local and international). Since wildlife conservation is at the very heart of what we do, this immersive experience automatically results in a very significant raising of awareness about wildlife conservation issues, especially because we do not pretend that the planet can be saved on a two-week holiday, or that field conservation always achieves and never goes wrong. Instead we expose people to difficult issues and the realities of field conservation – adventure, successes, warts, failures and all.
After the expedition experience we encourage people to stay involved through our Look Ahead programme, and – on demand – get them in touch with local conservation efforts to continue their conservation activities locally. Finally, Biosphere Expeditions is very active in achieving decency in volunteer involvement and voluntourism. With no international standard in the sector, Biosphere Expeditions’ “Top Ten Tips” campaign gives guidance to those considering a voluntourism holiday and in doing so has attracted the attention of the international media. It has also firmly established Biosphere Expeditions as one of the most ethical showcase voluntourism providers.