Conservation travel has transformative power. It benefits communities, safeguards wildlife and preserves cultural heritage. In addition to our conservation travel partnership with World Wildlife Fund established in 2003, Natural Habitat Adventures also supports various philanthropic initiatives in the destinations we visit. During the summer of 2023, Nat Hab Philanthropy funded eight conservation and community projects around the world, detailed below by Court Whelan, Nat Hab’s Chief Sustainability Officer.
Bwindi School Chicken Coop – $2,000
A multi-time recipient of Nat Hab Philanthropy funding, Bwindi Plus Nursery and Primary School continues to provide a vital service to their community by way of educating the next generation. In partnership with Mahogany Springs Lodge, which Nat Hab visits on our Uganda gorilla adventures, this school has grown to serve more than 250 students in this rural area. The school farm provides much-needed nutrition to local students living near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and allows them to learn basic farming techniques such as animal care and gardening. Our 2023 grant was used to construct a chicken coop and purchase egg-laying hens, along with other supplies. Extra eggs will be sold to the local community at a low price to help generate additional income for school necessities like pencils, books and paper.
Tree Seed Collection Project – $2,500
It’s no surprise that reforestation is a crucial step in rewilding areas of our planet. Scottish charity Trees for Life knows this—their goal is to rewild the Scottish Highlands and expand native Caledonian forests. In July 2023, Nat Hab Philanthropy began working with The Tree Seed Collection Project in collaboration with Woodland Trust Scotland and Trees for Life to enhance the availability of native trees from western Scotland. For planted trees to have the best chance of survival, seeds are locally collected to maintain the species’ area-specific genetics and provide resilience against disease and climate change. With more than 100 volunteers and montane specialists collecting seeds from targeted areas, including the west coast’s temperate rainforest, the program is leading forest conservation efforts in Scotland as well as forging new paths and methodologies for woodland reforestation.
Ele Express Bus – $2,500
Living among Africa’s wildlife can be a daunting balance. Even when in the presence of non-predatory animals such as elephants, simple walks to school or medical clinics can be dangerous. Enter the Ele Express Bus project—a program that provides safe bus transport through elephant corridors of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Through coordinated, shared rides via the Ele Express, people of all ages can safely get to where they need to be. By minimizing potential run-ins with people, animals are safer, too, creating a more harmonious balance between people and nature.
Galapagos Library – $2,500
The Library for Galapagos (Biblioteca para Galapagos) proudly stands as the sole communal library within the Galapagos Islands and serves as a vibrant community space. Earning recognition in Ecuador as an example of library best practices, it provides numerous workshops throughout the year for students of all ages. In addition, the resources it provides within its walls help foster an array of cultural, educational and recreational activities. Nat Hab is proud to contribute to its mission and vision via a 2023 Nat Hab Philanthropy grant, and equally proud to have six of our very own Expedition Leaders as library volunteers—helping teach and inspire the next generation of Galapagos leaders and educators.
CITW Literacy Program – $2,500
Zimbabwe used to be known for having one of the best literacy rates in Africa, but sadly, this is no longer true. With the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy in decades past, the majority of qualified teachers have not only left the profession but have ventured further afield, moving to neighboring countries and overseas in search of employment and a living wage. Add COVID into the mix, and it is not surprising that more than half of Grade 7 students leaving primary school are unable to read, write and comprehend English. Being able to read and write is the key to a better future.
In July 2023, Nat Hab Philanthropy worked with Children in the Wilderness (CITW) to help fund literacy centers in communities throughout Zimbabwe and Zambia. These centers promote the importance of and work effectively for the remediation and improvement of the English language and literacy skills for all ages.
Weiler Woods for Wildlife – $2,000
Connecting the next generation to nature and familiarizing them with environmental topics is key to protecting our planet in the long run. Weiler Woods for Wildlife understands this well and seeks to inspire and empower youth in the United States to be champions for wildlife through art projects and education programs. Planned lesson units focus on biodiversity and animals such as the critically endangered red wolf. Through these teachings, children become ambassadors for conservation and biodiversity, educating the community and fundraising via the art they create.
Protecting Croatia’s Griffons – $2,000
Grifon – Birds of Prey Protection Society has the long-term goal of preserving the last Croatian population of griffon vultures and creating conditions for their return to their former habitats and colonies, including Croatia’s Kvarner islands. As with many species’ conservation and recovery plans, data is critical to understanding the behaviors and nesting areas of griffon vultures, and this is exactly what the Birds of Prey Protection Society excels at. In August of 2023, Nat Hab Philanthropy provided funding for research equipment, including specialized climbing and rappel gear that allows research teams to access the remote cliffsides these vultures inhabit. In addition to research, the conservation organization educates school children and the wider public about the importance of birds of prey and their role in nature.
Greenland Greenhouse Project – $3,646
Traditional growing seasons are almost non-existent in Greenland, but thanks to the inspiring efforts of Siu-Tsi’s Tasiilaq’s garden project, crops like spinach, onions, turnips and radishes abound in this small, remote village in Eastern Greenland. A part of Tasiilaq’s youth social services organization, this program sits alongside others that collectively aim to contribute to local sustainability while also creating a bridge to further education and employment opportunities for young Greenlanders.
In April of 2023, Nat Hab contributed $3,646 to Siu-Tsiu’s Tasiilaq’s Garden Cold Frame Project. In addition to providing more locally grown vegetables to the community of Tasiilaq, Siu-Tsiu also forged a partnership with Nat Hab to offer freshly grown produce to our chef at Base Camp Greenland, which aligned with our mission to source sustainable food whenever and wherever possible on our worldwide expeditions.