#EcoTravel: Big events that can help you make a small but useful difference

2017-04-30 11:36 - Selene Brophy
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South Africa is wild at heart and home to some special and unique natural experiences. 

From our eight world heritage sites, which protects one of the world’s most diverse floral kingdoms to the Big Five, you couldn’t really ask for any better right on your doorstep - especially when to comes to adventuring out in nature.

But 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' 

Eco-Travelling has become the sum total of valuing our natural spaces, all the while realising how habitat encroachment not only impacts our own future but that of animal species and plant life across the globe.  

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 stoked creativity - we’ve rounded up a few  annual events, to suit all types that will provide the opportune time to tap into the best nature has to offer - as well as make a difference - however small.

Try one of these annual event - we’d also love to know what changes if any you’ve made to your travelling habits to make them more mindful of the environment? Email us at info@Traveller24.com or come join our #EcoTravel chat on 5 May.  

SEE:Come and join our #EcoTravel Twitter chat on Friday 5 May

World Migratory Bird Day

Date: 12 May

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) was initiated in 2006 and is an annual awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. It has a global outreach and is an effective tool to help raise global awareness of the threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and the need for international cooperation to conserve them. Keep an eye on Traveller24 for more details on how to celebrate.

SEE: Birders flock to Cape Town to see rare avian visitor


International Biodiversity Day

Date: 22 May

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

Date: 05 June

This year’s theme for 2017 is connecting the people to nature. In the South African context, World Environment Day (WED) is a key driver of this month-long June Environment Month celebrations. The month-long celebrations include celebrations of World Oceans Day (WOD) and World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD). Both WOD and WDCD are also annual events widely celebrated globally for positive action in the environmental sector. While environmental activities take place year-round, World Environment Day is marked annually on 5 June as per the decalration of the United Nations in 1972. Keep an eye on Traveller24 for more details on how to celebrate and get involved.

SEE: Where the Wild Things Aren’t: Digital Nature, the Human Condition and Conservation

World Oceans Day

Date: 08 June 

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. Keep an eye on Traveller24 for more details on how to celebrate.

SEE: #MyOceanPromise: Make waves on World Oceans Day

GreenPop Zambia Festival

Date: 25 June–9 July

Every June/July, the Greenpop Zambia Festival of Action in Livingstone brings people together from around the globe to learn, connect, give back and get active. Over three weeks you get to plant trees, grow food forests, build using eco-methods, set up recycling systems, brighten up schools with eco murals, attend sustainability workshops, celebrate with live music and more. It’s an adventure for active citizens who believe it is possible to change the world we live in for the better. Visit their site for full details.

SEE: Greenpop: The tangible magic of trees  

World Ranger Day

Date: 31 July 

Conservation across Africa and the world at large wouldn’t be much without its game rangers. And while many acts of greatness done by these individuals often goes unnoticed - SANParks Honorary Rangers deserve all the thanks they can get for doing an extraordinary job in protecting our wildlife. The Pretoria Region will be celebrating International Rangers Day. Keep an eye on Traveller24 for more details on how to celebrate.

SEE: #WorldRangerDay: ‘Doing what I do has made me a better man’

National Abour day

Date: 01 September

September is also heritage month and as we celebrate Arbor Week, the department also focuses on the country’s champion trees which include some of the oldest, largest and culturally significant trees. These include the Sophia Town Oak Tree and the Sagole Baobab Tree in Limpopo, which are part of our heritage. National Arbor Week is an opportune time to call on all South Africans to plant indigenous trees as a practical and symbolic gesture of sustainable environmental management. Keep an eye on Traveller24 for more details on things happening during Heritage Month.

The Hogsback Festival of trees

Date: September 2017 (TBC)

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.

SEE: Hogsback - place of magic and legend

World Ozone Day

Date: 16 September

This special day marks the day back in 1987 when the Montreal Protocol was signed.  Celebrated and established since 1994 by the United Nations General Assembly, people across the world come together for World Ozone, to spread awareness of the depletion of the Ozone Layer and search for solutions to preserve it.

SEE: Ozone depletion: SA to phase out harmful gases but struggles to find suitable alternatives

International Coastal Clean-Up Day

Date: 19 September

SEE: Save our ocean life with these 6 promises

As some 5 trillion pieces of plastic litters the oceans across the globe - this day is about preserving the quality of our oceans. “Every year thousands of tons of garbage winds up in the oceans, with 60% of that being composed of plastic material. Plastics especially last a very long time in the ocean, and are in such abundance that there are 46,000 individual pieces of plastic litter for every square mile of ocean. Added to this plastics are very hazardous to marine life, killing more than a million birds and over 100,000 seals, turtles, and whales, and an immense number of fish in our ocean.  Coastal Cleanup Day encourages us to get out to our beaches and help to limit this problem by cleaning up the garbage that has washed up on shore, and that left by visitors every day. Keep an eye on Traveller24 for a list of eco-travel things to do on this day around SA.

SEE: Here's how to help save the Cape's oceans

World Rhino Day

Date: 22 September

SEE: Poaching and budget crises spurs dehorning move in Africa's “rhino conservation cradle”

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.

SEE: Legalising SA Rhino horn trade: DEA still has the upper hand

World Habitat Day

Date: 03 October

SEE: How SA is becoming a global leader in eco-tourism

The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of our cities and towns. Each year, World Habitat Day takes on a new theme chosen by the United Nations based on current issues relevant to the Habitat Agenda. The themes are selected to bring attention to UN-Habitat’s mandate to promote sustainable development policies that ensure adequate shelter for all.

SEE: Make your mark in SA's National Parks: 54 New eco-tourism opportunities to embrace

National Marine Week

Date: 10 – 15 October

SEE: Lucrative oceans economy sees SA's ports set for R7bn upgrade

National Marine Week is a campaign that aims to educate all South Africans about the role oceans play in their daily lives. It is celebrated every year during the second week of October. It creates awareness on the marine and coastal environment, the promotion of sustainable use and conservation of these resources, for the benefit of all both present and future generations. The campaign also aims to promote sustainable use and conservation for the benefit of present and future generations.

SEE: #MarineWeekSA: Do your bit for ocean conservation

Rocking the daisies

Date: 5 to 8 October

SEE: Rocking the Daisies - Why it's not for Sissies

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.  

(Source for annual International Days info - www.environment.gov.za)

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