Conserving Our World To Travel

Interview with Katie – A Traveller and A Conservation Ecologist

Published By Andy Marty - The Travel Hub

Andy is the curator of The Travel Hub. A passionate traveller, photographer and story-teller. An interest in the conservation work done by Katey of @ameytravels inspired this pice.

Instagram: Andy Marty: @andrewmarty_
                  Katey: @ameytravels

“Travel is the best way of being able to educate people”

Like many of us, Katie is a keen traveler, harbouring a strong desire to see as much of this amazing planet as she can. On top of that though, her wanderlust is coupled with a passion for protecting the world for future generations. A large part of travelling is the opportunity to experience vast and diverse landscapes. We can immerse ourselves in different societies, cultures and ecosystems. We can witness first hand, nature’s beauty - whether on safari in Africa, witnessing glaciers of Alaska or diving colourful coral reefs. What most of us probably don’t take the time to appreciate as we tick items off our bucket-list, is the fragility of the world we are enjoying. 

Katie graduated from the University of Worcester with a degree in Conservation Ecology, a course that provided her with the education and platform to develop a greater perspective of the impacts humans are having on the planet and things we can do as travellers to better protect it. But it was from a much earlier age that Katie grew to love nature…..

“I was really lucky to grow up in the countryside, I became really interested in nature and would spend my days outside, rather than inside playing video games” 

“I noticed that the countryside I lived in was getting smaller and smaller”

It was through the opportunity to travel that Katie became more aware of the connections between the environment, human interactions and different cultures – a year 10 exchange trip to China was an eye-opening experience that inspired her to pursue studies in conservation.

“In addition to the nature and conservation side of things, I became really interested in the human element too. The more I learned, the more interested I became”

Katie was fortunate to undertake a very practical, hands-on degree that allowed her to be an interactive part of research work. This also provided a stimulus to travel, through volunteering to be a research assistant. This was an amazing opportunity to have the world as teaching ground, with both the practical aspects and also regular seminars.

“I went to Peru and South Africa with the charity Operation Wallacea. I fell in love with the idea of going to South Africa, but it wasn’t somewhere I had previously been able to travel to.  They were doing research on how elephants impact their environment and then looking at changes different populations were having. The project was considering the effects of dropping park fences, encouraging lots of smaller games reserves to become much larger game reserves. The research we did all went to local universities in South Africa, so that the research I was being involved in was actually getting used for the future planning of South Africa”

“I then went across to Sodwana Bay for some marine conservation research. Previously all my studies had been terrestrial, so I did a SCUBA certification and was able to go on a couple of dives”. It is great the way travel and in this case, volunteer conservation travel, opens doors into experiences you had previously not considered. We both agreed about the way SCUBA diving is literally like venturing into another world. It is also an insight into some of the world most fragile ecosystems, ones that are so dramatically affected by climate change, pollution and other human impacts.

Another ecosystem that is extremely vulnerable to damage from the effects of humans is the Amazon Rainforest. Through her role with Wallacea at Worcester University, Katie found the opportunity to travel to Peru and be involved in research work in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.

“We looked at how climate change had affected the flooded rainforest – looking at fluctuations in times of year and temperature variations. It’s a project that has been going on for a long time, so more and more of the local villagers have become interested in how environmental impacts are effecting them”

There is no doubt that travel and experiencing so many vast and unique places, provides a greater perspective of just how important it is to protect the planet. “This is why its so important that people do have the opportunity to travel. Its not just the environmental side of things, its seeing the way different people live and appreciating how you can change the things you do at home to improve the way you live”

Travel provides the opportunity to learn from different cultures – providing the chance to change the way communities approach issues of sustainability, or simply changing the way we as individuals live our lives with these considerations in mind. “Traveling should be about immersing yourself in another culture, not just about staying in familiar chain hotels, but trying to ensure that the money you are spending is being spent in the local economy and hopefully getting to experience the traditions of local communities and the environment”

There are a lot of things we can all do, at home, at work and when we are travelling that will make a big difference in sustaining the planet we all enjoy so much. Specifically related to travelling, Katie suggested,  “its really about being mindful”, thinking about the simple things we can do to change what impacts we are having. “Be conscious of what you are purchasing. From the simplest thing like carrying a refillable bottle to avoid throwing away plastic water bottles, it causes so much less of a footprint. And when you are looking at buying food or souveniers, don’t just go for something where the money funnels back into large international companies, look at buying street food or locally made items, where the money will go back into communities and families”.

In addition to the simple everyday things, there are also the larger scale considerations, like literally changing the ways we travel from place to place that are important. “I like to minimize my carbon footprint - so I’m very keen on using bikes and public transport and maximizing the experience from plane trips to overseas destinations”. This makes obvious sense from a financial view-point, but its also a really important consideration from an environmental perspective. If we are planning a trip that involves a long-haul flight, take the time to really see as many of the places as you can from that plane flight.

In talking to Katie, it became abundantly clear, that a lot of the things that we can all do to improve the way we travel are quite simple things. They involve keeping some perspective of the way we interact with local communities and the environment. On a larger scale, there is some great work being done by organisations around the world like Wallacea, that are constantly looking into ways humans are impacting the environment and changes we can make that will ensure the future is all about positive changes. Hopefully, whilst The Travel Hub is all about “socially inspired travel”, we can also help to inspire travel that protects our beautiful planet.

Follow Katie on her Instagram @ameytravels