Photo: Rostasedlacek/Shutterstock

Matador 2022 Travel Awards: Cause to Rally Behind

by Matador Creators Dec 23, 2021

As travelers, we directly impact the world’s most beautiful places, and we can be a major force in protecting them. Which is why rewilding is our Cause to Rally Behind for 2022.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has perhaps the best description that gets to the heart of what rewilding means: “Rewilding aims to restore healthy ecosystems by creating wild, biodiverse spaces. It rebuilds ecosystems previously modified by human disturbance, using the plant and animal life that would have been present had the disturbance never occurred. In doing so, rewilding restores the natural processes that provide humanity with clean air, water, food, shelter, and medicine.”

Across the globe, governments and NGOs are partnering with tourism businesses to rewild spaces in both cities and remote areas, revitalize wildlife, and bring back tourism in a way that benefits local communities. African Parks, Tompkins Conservation, and The European Nature Trust are three organizations leading the way while making space for travelers to be a part of the solution.

One of the biggest success stories from the past decade is Rwanda, our sustainable tourism winner. Akagera National Park is a 100,000-hectare park situated in eastern Rwanda. It was decimated during Rwanda’s genocide, and has been managed by African Parks in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board since 2010. The park has been brought back to its former state through donations and government funding, and it’s now home to Africa’s Big Five. Sustainability minded options to stay in the park include Akagera Game Lodge, the rustic Ruzizi Tented Camp, and the upscale Magashi Camp, which Wilderness Safaris operates.

Photo: Alexandre G. ROSA/Cape Horn/Shutterstock

Tompkins Conservation has been working on large-scale conservation projects that focus on restoring the full scope of native species to the Southern Cone of South America for more than two decades. The organization creates parklands, protects and restores wildlife, promotes regenerative agriculture, and shows that national parks can benefit local communities. For the serious hiker, they helped conceive and promote the Route of Parks of Chilean Patagonia, a scenic route stretching 1,700 miles between Puerto Montt and Cape Horn that encompasses 17 national parks and more than 60 gateway communities.

Photo: Romania/The European Nature Trust

The European Nature Trust (TENT) creates travel experiences that connect people to nature and raise funds for conservation projects. With less than 3 percent of global charitable giving focused on environmental causes, there is much room for growth. TENT’s week-long conservation trips take guests to Italy, Romania, Spain, and the Scottish Highlands. Each is expertly guided and include time with ecologists and wildlife experts to learn about the local flora and fauna. Accommodations range from rustic lodges to boutique hotels to wildlife hides to family-owned estates. All trips adhere to the eco-localism model of sustainable tourism and include a donation to local foundations and charities.

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