Biodiversity, or biological diversity, relates to the diversity of biological presence in any given area. This includes all the organisms and species found in our natural world and the complex ecosystems they create through their close interactions with each other.
Unfortunately, threats to biodiverse spaces are many, and they’ve increased in severity over the past few years, as population growth and infrastructure development and their resulting demands on the environment have increased. This has created enough concern that the United Nations proclaimed May 22 International Day for Biological Diversity in order to shed light on the toll human actions are taking on the environment and the many species it shelters. Each year focuses on a different theme; this year’s theme is ‘From Agreement to Action: Build Back Diversity.’
Heeding the Call to Protect Biological Diversity
Numerous stakeholders, including governments, non-governmental organizations, Indigenous and local communities, individuals and organizations, are involved in addressing sustainable development that does not adversely affect biodiversity.
As part of those efforts, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was adopted at COP 15 (the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity). This framework outlines four long-term goals related to the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity and 23 targets to be achieved by 2030. Each target falls under the broad categories of reducing threats to biodiversity, meeting needs through sustainable use and benefit sharing, and tools and solutions for implementation mainstreaming.
Many biodiversity hotspots around the world are under threat, including popular travel destinations such as Borneo, Tanzania and Costa Rica, as well as vast regions such as the Tropical Andes and the North American Coastal Plain. There are more than 30 such biodiversity hotspots identified globally. Each one is considered a hotspot because of the quality and quantity of biological diversity found there.
While these hotspots comprise only 2.5% of our planet’s surface, they account for almost 43% of its biological diversity. Millions of people call these areas home, which is more reason for ensuring their protection so the people, plants, animals and other organisms that call these areas home can continue to thrive.
Six Biodiverse Places to Explore With Nat Hab
Travel affords us the opportunity to experience habitats and enjoy wonders of nature not found anywhere else in the world. And responsible, conservation-focused travel to biodiverse destinations helps to protect these areas while also educating humans about what makes them special. Nat Hab has been carbon neutral since 2007, and we employ the world’s best-trained naturalist Expedition Leaders and work with ethical, sustainable travel partners to ensure your visit helps—rather than hurts—these precious places.
1. Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica
The lush forests of Costa Rica and the abundant plant and animal life there are big reasons visitors head to this country. Search for cloud forest wildlife in Monteverde during a sky bridge walk and enjoy guided hikes in a private nature sanctuary. Scan the forest canopy for quetzals and sloths during the rainy season in July and August, and look for endangered sea turtles during a private wildlife cruise.
You’ll also learn more about the conservation work that World Wildlife Fund is doing in the area, including protecting marine turtle habitat, minimizing climate change impacts, addressing overharvesting and illegal trade, and eliminating bycatch.
2. Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef in Northern Australia
Australia—the only country that’s also a continent—is home to two biodiversity hotspots: the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. The Daintree is the world’s oldest rainforest, where you can see saltwater crocodiles and plants that have been around the time of dinosaurs. Species like the endangered cassowary, potoroo and bandicoot are also often sighted here. Off the coast, you can discover the Great Barrier Reef’s underground coral world at your own pace, as you access it from a fly-in island.
3. Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in the Amazon River Expedition
Nestled in the world’s largest rain forest is a natural reserve that’s home to the largest wildlife population in the Amazon Basin. At the 5-million-acre Pacaya Samiria, you can spot pink river dolphins, macaws and caiman, while immersing yourself in the area’s rich biodiversity and learning all about WWF’s efforts to protect these fragile ecosystems from deforestation, increased carbon emissions and species loss.
4. The Pantanal in Brazil
The Pantanal—a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site—offers not only one of your best chances of seeing a jaguar in the wild, but also your invitation to explore the beauty and biodiversity of the world’s largest seasonal floodplain. We’re talking capybara, maned wolf, caiman and giant armadillo, among more than 100 other mammals. That’s in addition to the more than 600 bird species found here!
Although the terrain can be tough to maneuver, when you travel to the Pantanal with Nat Hab, you get the convenience and the unique opportunity of a private chartered flight direct to the Caiman Ecological Refuge, which is a private conservation, ecotourism and research initiative that offers some of the best wildlife viewings possible.
5. New Zealand’s South Island
Move away from the more frequented and touristy sites in New Zealand to a remote area that allows you to experience the region’s biodiversity. The brown kiwi, yellow-eyed penguin and flightless buff weka are just a few of the rare species that live in South Island, which boasts some of the most diverse topography found on Earth. Visit Stewart Island to see Fiordland crested penguin, then move on to Ulva Island to glimpse more endangered bird species, and the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve for guided night walks and star sightings.
The native species here are many, and WWF is involved in collaborating with local communities via the Habitat Protection Fund to encourage community-led conservation efforts to protect them by stopping habitat loss.
6. Borneo’s Ancient Tropical Rain Forests
Orangutans, leaf monkeys and wild gibbons. Those are just a few of the species you’ll encounter in Borneo. The world’s third-largest island is home to the tallest, most ancient rain forest on the planet, and it hosts more than 300 bird species! Conservation efforts here include providing sanctuary for orangutans, green sea turtles and sun bears.
The jungles and mangroves of Borneo are among many habitats that provide just the right home for several species found only here, such as the Bornean bearded pig, rhinoceros hornbill and pygmy elephant, so you can rest assured that if there’s one thing this biodiverse region offers you, it’s some of the best wildlife sightings you could ever imagine.