Melting ice caps, deforestation and soaring temperatures are devastating our environment. These destinations are among the most severely impacted by the climate crisis, so we’ve found ways in which you can visit in a sustainable, eco-conscious manner.

1. Sumatra, Indonesia

While many flock to Bali and Lombok for white-sand beaches and cerulean waters, neighbouring island Sumatra is often overlooked as an important travel destination. With continuous illegal poaching and some of the world’s worst deforestation statistics, the island now has multiple critically endangered species. Only 400 Sumatran tigers, 300 Sumatran rhinos and 7,500 orangutans remain on the island – meaning if you want to see these animals first-hand, you’d better do it soon. Be sure to book with companies such as Sumatra EcoTravel and Bukit Lawang Jungle Trekking to ensure sustainable tourism that respects and protects Sumatra’s nature and endemic animals.

2. The North Pole

While both the North and South pole are melting significantly every year as a result of warmer air and water temperatures, surveys show that the Arctic is melting at a faster rate than the Antarctic, and is likely to be ice-free by 2040. Thawing ice is contributing to rising sea levels, which in turn is negatively impacting environments across the globe. Halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is the perfect base from which to explore the Arctic. The archipelago has a focus on sustainable tourism, so be sure to ask around for the best companies to arrange eco-friendly expeditions and excursions.

3. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

In recent years, the climate-change induced bleaching of coral has taken centre stage in much environmental news coverage – and for good reason. As a result of warm ocean water destroying colourful algae and starving the coral, half of the existing Great Barrier Reef has been bleached since 2016, and statistics are now showing that almost 90 per cent of new coral are failing to survive as well. If travelling to witness this devastating phenomenon, be sure to engage in sustainable practices, including using eco-conscious tourist boards and reef-friendly sun cream (ingredients such as nanoparticles contribute to coral bleaching).

4. The Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon now happens at a rate of three football fields a minute. This horrifying statistic proves how effective the “out of sight, out of mind” mantra is – without seeing this destruction of nature first hand, it’s nigh impossible to understand its true extent. Research shows that responsible ecotourism in the area could help reduce deforestation and protect endemic Amazonian species by promoting the value of culture, engaging local communities and educating tourists.

5. Everglades, Florida

Famed for its subtropical wetlands, this network of forests, prairies and wetlands is as magical as it sounds. Home to several endangered species such as the manatee, American crocodile and Florida panther, the wilderness has been under threat in recent years. Although some of the destruction has been a result of sea levels rising, much has been caused by man-made canals and dams built to provide agriculture and housing. As a result, ecosystems and habitats have been increasingly waning, placing endangered species and their homes as risk of extinction. Visit this International Biosphere Reserve to take part in conservation practices that aid the wetlands survival, and help local authorities preserve and protect stretches of land across the Everglades.

6. Majuli, India

In the middle of the Brahmaputra River in the state of Assam, Majuli is an entirely flat island – and is slowly sinking. Come rainy season, each monsoon swallows more land and homes, shrinking the island at an incomprehensible rate – research shows that the island will completely disappear within 20 years. Visit in October to take part in conservation projects, in which locals plant trees to help save the island from erosion. While the island itself has shrunk by two-thirds over the last 70 years, locals have managed to plant a forest larger than Central Park.

7. Madagascar

While the eponymous film depicts lemurs as fun-loving party animals – King Julian’s rendition of I Like To Move It, Move It will now be stuck in your head for the next week – in reality the Madagascan lemur is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. Largely due to deforestation, the country has lost almost 80 per cent of its original forests – an issue not just damaging to the lemur population but also to some 90 per cent of Madagascar’s endemic species, all of whom rely on the forest for survival. Visit lemurs in their natural environment rather than zoos. We recommend the Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, where the Lemur Conservation Foundation has several programmes helping reforestation, lemur repopulation and educating local people about sustainable agricultural practices.

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11 Ways to be a More Sustainable Traveller

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