At Tambopata Ecolodge, in the rainforests of southeastern Peru, we work to conserve one small corner of the Amazon basin, and to introduce the world’s travelers to our conservation model based on sustainable ecotourism.
In South America, ecotourism has been shown to be the only effective way of preventing further accelerated loss of tropical and subtropical forest habitat across the continent, where nine countries share custodianship of the great Amazon basin. Ecotourism brings economic benefits to local populations, showing them that the forests of the Amazon are worth more to them when left to flourish intact. This growing sector of the world’s tourism industry also teaches people from wealthier countries about the importance of conservation, while encouraging them to spread the word to others.
On an individual basis, it’s hard to know how one can contribute to nature conservation. Of course, you can book a vacation to a rainforest destination, and you’ll be helping to protect the habitat you experience from current threats and future destruction. But before you even think about leaving home, there are things you can do to help conserve the Amazon basin and the incomparable biological diversity to which it is home. Of course, no single action on the part of an ordinary individual can save the natural world, but by committing to consistent action over your lifetime, you will be making an important contribution.
If you live in a democracy, the first thing you can do is vote. Across the political spectrum, candidates have very different environmental agendas. Make sure you are informed regarding candidates’ stances on the environment, and influence your representative’s decisions by writing to them and letting them know what’s important to you.
As a consumer, you can think carefully about what you buy. Industries and businesses promote products and services the public buy, and they will discontinue those products and services for which there is reduced demand. For example, around the world lumber companies are increasingly adopting sustainable logging practices, because consumer demand for wood products certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council currently exceeds supply. So, when you buy wood products, make sure they are sustainably sourced, and refuse to buy items made from uncertified wood. In addition to being more careful about what you buy, another way to influence businesses is to draw attention to their policies and products. And don’t just criticize those practices you don’t like. Praise good practices and encourage your friends and colleagues to buy from those businesses!
As an individual citizen of the world, you can make an impact by donating to organizations that promote the issues in which you believe. If you are concerned about biological diversity and the future of the natural world or indigenous cultures, you can donate to Nature Conservancy, Survival International, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) or the Rainforest Alliance.
And even if you can’t visit us right now at our Tambopata Ecolodge Private Conservation Area, you can still make a difference closer to home. Spend time improving your local environment. You’ll make your own quality of better, as well as setting an example to others, just as we’ve been doing for the past 30 years at Tambopata Ecolodge!