Global warning and the strain modern man has exerted on the planet is undeniable. But as Earth Day focused the efforts to curb the impact and mover towards a more responsible future - the idea that all is lost needs to be busted.
National Geographic celebrated the 49th anniversary of the global movement by detailing 46 initiatives and causes it has helped catapult into the spotlight.
Most notably and a grand showing of unity across the developed and developing nations was the Paris Agreement towards the end of 2015 - with a targeted focus on limiting global warming by reducing the emissions of each country. "Many environmentalists remain cautiously optimistic that the agreement represented a global turning point towards concerted action around the problem."
But much more still needs to be done.
READ: Earth Day 2019: It needs more than just a day, because we are running out of time
While species are being lost daily, due to habitat encroachment, 2018 was the year that saw certain species recovering somewhat. In South Africa the department of environmental affairs reported a decline in rhino poaching from 1028 rhino between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2017 to 769 rhino poached in the same period in 2018.
But many would agree this number, while lower, is still far too high. As urbanisation and our over-all human development puts growing pressure on the earth’s resources, Eco-Travelling cannot be more relevant or necessary as travellers become more mindful and responsible.
'Leave only footprints, take only pictures'
Even more so, countless studies done over the last decade show that spending time in nature impacts your health in such a positive way from mental agility, reduced stress and stokes creativity.
Sure living responsibly and reducing the impact of our travels can seem overwhelming, yet small changes can and do make a difference. Especially when you consider the growing momentum against single-use plastics and how 2018 is the year the plastic straw officially sucked as a restaurant utensil.
If you missed an opportunity to add your voice, there are many events that help us be more mindful of the environment? The time to get involved is now.
READ: #WTMA19 shakes up its Responsible Tourism programme as Grootbos takes top honours
International Day for Biological Diversity 2019
SA is the third most biodiverse country in the world, according to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The Cape Peninsula, for example, has more plant species within its 22 000 hectares than the whole British Isles or New Zealand. Some 18 000 species of vascular plant (plants with vessels for bearing sap) occur within South Africa's boundaries, of which 80% occur nowhere else. SA is also one of the 17 mega-diverse countries in the world - countries that harbor the majority of the Earth's species and high numbers of endemic species - as identified by Conservation International in 1998. Keep an eye on Traveller24 for more details on how to celebrate.
SEE: International Biological Diversity Day - why SA is the 3rd most biodiverse place on Earth
World Environment Day 2019
World Environment Day is marked annually on 5 June as per the declaration of the United Nations in 1972. In South African, World Environment Day (WED) is a key driver of this month-long eco celebrations. It includes the celebrations of World Oceans Day (WOD) and World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD).
World Oceans Day
The ocean is the heart of our planet. Like your heart pumping blood to every part of your body, the ocean connects people across the Earth, no matter where we live. Covering 71% of the Earth's surface, oceans also regulate the climate, feeds millions of people every year, produces oxygen, is the home to an incredible array of wildlife, provides us with important medicines, and so much more. In order to ensure the health and safety of our communities and future generations, it’s imperative that we take the responsibility to care for the ocean as it cares for us. June has a major focus on eco-friendly and sustainable living. It usually sees a swath of beach clean-ups and focused events on marine protection.
World rhino day 2019
World Rhino Day on 22 September celebrates all five species of rhino: Black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. First announced by WWF-South Africa in 2010. It brings together NGOs, zoos, rhino sanctuaries, and concerned citizens across the globe to raise awareness and funds for the five species of rhinoceros — all of which are under threat from the illegal rhino horn trade.
Festivals to indulge the eco-traveller in you:
Date: 4 to 6 October
Rocking the Daisies Music and Lifestyle Festival takes place in Darling each year and has become South Africa’s biggest and hottest outdoor gathering, focused on green thinking. It takes place over four days on the first weekend of October every year, officially kicking off the summer season. Festival-goers can expect a multi-faceted and multi-sensory action-packed weekend featuring the best local and international entertainment across music, comedy, art, film; hundreds of top local acts and some of the world’s most inspiring artists performing on multiple stages; camping; good times and making incredible memories.
Date: 21 to 24 September
The enchanted forests of the Amathole Mountains will be the place to plant trees, eat well, learn, grow - as well as boogie the night away… Join Greenpop for a weekend at Terra-Khaya eco-backpackers just outside the magical town of Hogsback. The festival sees thousands of trees planted, rehabilitation of wattle-invaded land and the enhancement of the abundance of life in this threatened forests and adjacent grasslands. You can also expect to enjoy hikes in Hogsback’s incredible forests, educational workshops, yoga sessions, tree planting, delicious meals, live music and visits to the oldest Yellowwood in the Eastern Cape! This is quality time spent with family and friends in the mountains.
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