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New York Times - Travelling the World to Help Save It

"As exotic destinations become more commonplace and travelers seek out more unusual and broadening experiences, nonprofit groups are responding."


'By promoting and helping to organize ecotourism, nonprofits benefit by raising awareness -- and money -- for their causes. The draw for travelers? Gaining access to places that they wouldn't be able to get to otherwise.

..."Tourism can be a powerful conservation tool," said Alasdair Harris, founder and executive director of Blue Ventures, a British nonprofit that offers three-to-six-week expeditions for scientists and volunteers to its marine field station in secluded Andavadoaka, Madagascar. The nonprofit-meets-travel model has worked well for the organization. In three years, Blue Ventures has won the United Nations Seed Award and opened the world's first community-run marine-protected area for octopus, which has improved catches among local octopus fishermen and led the national government to use the project as a model for other marine-protected areas in the country.

Gabrielle Johnson, 35, a teacher from Santa Barbara, Calif., traveled to Andavadoaka as a volunteer in 2004. ''I loved interacting with the local people, and learning how they respect the area where they live while still having to fish and depend on that for a living,'' she said. ''And getting to dive every day, getting to know the corals and the fish and collecting data, was amazing.'' Blue Ventures' latest project is to develop a community-run eco-lodge in Madagascar...'

The New York Times, December 17 2007

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