So I know I usually write the silliest blogs ever, but I’m not quite the air head I seem to be(!). Camps International means a lot to me, not just because of the incredible people I work with, or the beautiful places we visit. Camps International is not a company that plans holidays, what we do is create expeditions, which in turn create opportunities for people to grow and learn things they may otherwise not get the chance to. It takes a long time, and a lot of planning, and that is just the logistics of getting volunteers to the country they want to go to. What is sometimes difficult to see is the work that goes on all year round, and the commitments we make to each of our projects.

I’m sure if you are reading this you have probabaly all heard us mention the ‘project work’ you will do on expedition, and you have probably seen blogs showing the finished product of the hard work that we put into our projects, but sometimes without the background story it can be hard to understand why we do them or how they are important. I know that when I first started working here I never really properly understood what we did, and it never really became clear until I visited Borneo and some of our project sites. Everything dropped into place even more when I started working to co-ordinate our project reports from all over the world. This blog is my chance to tell you guys in a bit more depth about what we do.

I really wanted to write this blog to address the BBC link that we posted on social media this morning, if you haven’t already, please have a read (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30924523). I just wanted the opportunity to really talk about the differences we do make in the world, because the work we do as Camps International helps a lot more than you probably think it could.

As you may know, we pride ourselves on the projects that volunteers help with whilst out in country. Our projects are located exclusively in areas where poverty levels are high and there is virtually no form of income beyond small-scale farming. All projects are developed in partnership with the local people, providing them with better access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities, whilst at the same time safeguarding natural resources for future generations and protecting fragile wildlife habitats. Conserving biodiversity, ecosystems and landscapes are only one of the areas that we focus our work on, we also do project work within education, sustainable livelihoods, water projects and healthcare, sanitation & housing. With regards to our biodiversity, ecosystems and landscape projects, we are currently helping to protect more than 130,000 acres of wildlife habitat in four of the world‰Ûªs top biodiversity hotspots that hold especially high numbers of endemic species, yet are facing extreme threats from human activities.

What really cemented the wonderful things we do for me was reading a bit more about specific projects, and seeing some pictures. Please bear in mind that these are only a few of the many projects we do across the world, and these are the ones focused on the wildlife and environment.

In the lush surroundings of Borneo, it is sometimes difficult to imagine the amount of deforestation that goes on until you have seen it. The two biggest causes of deforestation in Borneo are logging and the ever growing demand for palm oil. Unfortunately, the decreasing amount of rainforest means that many animals have lost the habitat that they thrive in.

To preserve these habitats, we have been running a reforestation project since October 2009 in Bata Puteh.

We also run a similar programme in Beng Pae, Cambodia.

Every volunteer that visits these sites will participate in reforestation work, including education in the tree nursery, collecting seeds, planting them, tending to them within a nursery, taking them to be replanted and tending to them to ensure maximum growth of each tree.

Latin America has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, especially Ecuador. The Rio Blanco community are conscious about this and want to preserve the forest with native trees. One of our projects in Rio Blanco is to make an ethno-botanical garden to plant medicinal plants and native trees for reforestation.

However, it is not only the jungle habitats that are rapidly decreasing, but the environmental pressure on delicately balanced eco-systems within the reefs around the world is increasing. This is due to increased fishing using unsustainable methods, increased boat traffic, and pollution from tipping rubbish into the sea.

I’m sure you have all seen beautiful pictures of the breathtaking Mantanani Island, however, the parts you sometimes don’t see are that the island coasts are covered in rubbish.

We run marine conservation and awareness projects in Borneo, Ecuador, Kenya and Tanzania.

The aim of these programmes is to educate both visitors to the camp and members of the community. We discuss the problem as a whole, what can be done to stop it, particular species it affects, a beach clean up and art session and finally an interactive session with the school children, further reinforcing the issue and solutions.

In Ecuador, one of our projects at the moment gives visitors the chance to build octopus houses to help restore the reef at “El Pelado” Island. So far with help from our volunteers, we have built around 60 of these octopus houses and taken them to the island.

We also work directly helping animal welfare, we have projects in both Kenya and Tanzania that center around making sure that there are watering holes available during the dry season, we also try to create additional water holes to reduce the pressure on the already existing ones.

In Tanzania rangers clear any snares around the Ndarakwai Ranch, and we then use these to create art that can be displayed around the ranch.

At camp Tsavo in Kenya we created a fence complete with oil and chilli dipped rags to deter wildlife from the farms. (Elephants do not like chillis, however, they very much enjoy rooting around farms in the area, making them a threat to the communities). The creation of these fences has succeeded in protecting the farms, and therefore protecting the safety of the local elephants.

As I did say before I started, these are only a small sample of the many projects we run in Borneo, Cambodia, Peru, Ecuador, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, meant to give you an insight into the ways that Camps protect the wildlife and environment around our camps, as well as contributing to the future of the planet.

For more information on our projects and how you can help, please contact us at: projects@campsfoundation.org.