Sustainability Sunday #21

Go and see before it’s gone: places you need to travel to before they fall down the cracks of climate change.

January is well-known as being the most depressing month, it’s dark, it’s cold and there’s an irritatingly large gap between December and January’s pay cheques. There’s only one thing that can pull you through: a holiday. You don’t have to actually be going in January, or February, it just needs to be planned and you immediately feel better.

We now travel more than we ever have, with a network of transportation modes across the globe, a multitude of holiday styles – everything from camping in a Mongolian yurt to sleeping in a glass bedroom under the sea – and some pretty great travel companies who make it easy for you to travel anywhere (shout out to AirBnB!) you can basically do what your heart desires. A large part of any holiday is exploring new lands and basking in the natural beauty of beaches, cliffs, mountains and forests, but some of the most beautiful places on Earth are under severe threat from the impacts of climate change, unless we stick to our 2 degree promise. These places are going to be disappearing much faster than we thought and if, like me, your work holiday allowance means you’re cancelling Christmas holidays just to get away in summer, by the time we’ve taken 2 weeks a year to see the world, some of the greatest sights may be gone.

In 2016 the UN released a report on all the World Heritage Sites that are currently at risk from the impacts of climate change, and with 2017 being the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, here’s 5 locations from the at-risk list that you should make your way to ASAP:

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
At risk due to: rising sea temperatures and acidification of the ocean killing coral, the foundation of the marine ecosystem.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most beautiful ocean landscapes you’ll ever see, with warm, crystal clear waters and and abundance of sealife it’s like entering a completely different world.

Barrier reef.jpg

Yellowstone National Park, USA
At risk due to: low river flows and groundwater levels, reducing water availability to flora and resulting in declining living conditions for aquatic species in the Park’s waterways.  Increasing climate temperatures also lengthen the natural fire season.

This one has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, officially created in 1872 Yellowstone was the world’s first National Park. An area of majestic landscapes and even more majestic trees, the Park has it’s own ecosystem and is one of the last remaining ecosystems of it’s type (large-scale temperate). This National Park looks beautiful any time of year and is a bucket list must.

yellowstone-national-park-usa

Iulissat Icefjord (Greenland), Denmark territory 
At risk due to: rising temperatures melting away ice sheets and rising sea-level. 

I’m not normally a cold holiday person, I went to Lapland a few years back and got stuck in the middle of the night on a skidoo and was so cold that my tears froze on my cheeks. I also went skiing once and I’m fairly sure it’s not for me, but visiting the Artic or Antarctic is another of my bucket-list destinations. Exploring the Icefjord is an opportunity to see an environment that really is disappearing in front of your eyes, experience life in an extreme location with unbelievable scenic views AND a chance to support mitigating the impacts of climate change as Greenland is using it’s link between tourism and climate change to drive positive changes in both.

icefjord

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
At risk due to: changing climate means a changing El Niรฑo pattern and a heavier rainy season which disrupts the food supplies for the island species. Without the intricate web of species that inhabit these islands they’ll eventually become desolate, losing their beauty as well as their role in maintaining species diversity.

As one of the most biodiverse environments on Earth the Galapagos Islands are crucial for providing habitat to rare and threatened species. These species include the native Komodo dragon, giant tortoises and mockingbirds. Galapagos will give you lush green highlands to explore, tropical beaches, volcanic treks and an array of wildlife you won’t see cohabiting anywhere else.

the-galapagos-islands

The Atlantic Forest, Brazil
At risk due to: sea-level rise and extreme weather causing landslides and floods followed by droughts which in turn cause habitat degradation and thus loss of species and the land left bare.

Another biodiversity hotspot, the Atlantic Forest is an incredible expanse of forested area and wetlands in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Here you can visit the nature reserve, trek through the forest and stay at eco-lodge bases. A real explorer’s holiday!

atlanticforest

 

So I recommend booking some time off and packing your bags, or even just quitting your job and getting out there to see these places before our cars, our heating and our cereal ruin it for us!

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