Voluntourism Operator Discusses Sustainability Model



By Dr. Matthias Hammer, Managing Director of Biosphere Expeditions


logo-small2We are delighted to be announcing the opening of the Biosphere Expeditions Hanyini Research Station in the Caprivi region of Namibia. The station was built by our local scientists, Julia Gaedke and Francois de Wet of the Wildlife Community & Development Fund (WCDF) and funded by Biosphere Expeditions through a very simple, but effective model. 



How it works: 

Biosphere Expeditions provides an interest-free loan to the scientists and this loan is then paid back over the years with the scientists providing “free” accommodation for Biosphere Expeditions’ research teams until the loan is paid back.


That way we generate capacity, local jobs and facilities and in the end our scientists have a research station that belongs to them for their research & conservation work, generate income from and provide employment for local people. A “win/win situation” for everyone concerned.


Situated right on the border of Mamili National Park, the Biosphere Expeditions Hanyini Research Station boasts 14 twin room huts, an office, a kitchen & communal area, showers, toilets, stores & a workshop and elephants migrating past on an almost daily basis. It is built from local materials using local labour exclusively on community land in the Caprivi region of Namibia and provided employment for 25 local people during its construction phase and now 12 for its day-to-day running. Local resources are not touched as the station is self-sufficient in its power generation, biological sewage treatment and has its own water source and biological filter system.


The station will serve as the base for Biosphere Expeditions’ Caprivi expedition and negotiations with universities and NGOs are under way to also make the station one of their research bases.


Kathy Wilden, a Biosphere Expeditions Director, says, “We at Biosphere are immensely proud to be involved in this project and to have our name on this beautiful research station. It will stimulate research, provide local employment and help secure the future of conservation in and around Mamili National Park. This park, the Caprivi expedition’s main study area, is directly adjacent to famous wildlife hotspots such as the Okavango and Chobe National Park in Botswana, but it is rarely visited by foreigners at all and as such is one of the last true wilderness areas left in southern Africa. We are delighted to be well placed now to make sure that this wilderness is protected and enjoyed in a sustainable way for future generations.”


Learn more about this expedition and Biosphere Expeditions at www.biosphere-expeditions.org


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OK – so I was slightly shocked the other day to see that this blog was on page 1 of Google when I searched ‘voluntourism.’ It changes everyday and today we’re back on page 2, but since that wasnt the goal of this blog its kind of cool.

I realized that having that rank also means that potential travelers will also stumble upon this site so I added a page called Looking for Volunteer Trips? If you’d like to be listed just send me a blurb about your organization and a logo and I’ll get you up there (obviously no charge). I know its not pretty right now but I’ll change it to be more user friendly soon.